“[Peace] is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”
In a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, May 23rd, President Donald Trump boldly asserted that one of the modern world’s most intractable diplomatic nightmares plaguing and daunting negotiators for decades is “not as difficult” for this man who put his name on the book, The Art of the Deal (which was actually written by a ghost writer, Tony Schwartz).
“We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done,” Trump said. “We will be working so hard to get it done. I think there is a very good chance and I think we will.”
The prior day, when conferring in Jerusalem with Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, and other Israeli leaders and U.S. diplomats, Trump betrayed his utter lack of understanding and apparent lack of interest when he stated that:
Our Secretary of State [Rex Tillerson] has done an incredible job. We just got back from the Middle East. We just got back from Saudi Arabia.”
At this point, Ambassador Dermer was seen attempting to stifle a grimace and a laugh since by the third grade in the United States students know that Israel is a Middle Eastern country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Trump seems to have taken as his world history and geography tutor, his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.
Donald Trump admitted to The Washington Post that he does not read: “I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.”
Rather than concern himself with the “Three R-s”, Trump relies on the “Four I-s” (Impulsiveness, Instinctiveness, and Intuition in his I-first worldview) when making decisions. He has never read a biography of any of our past presidents, and his grasp of U.S. and world history is slight at best.
Continuing, he said he has no need to read extensively because he arrives at the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense, and I have a lot of business ability.”
During his stay in Jerusalem, Trump visited Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Center. Like others before him, he wrote his inscription in the guest book. When then Senator and Democratic Party presidential nominee, Barack Obama, came to Israel in July 2008, he left a poignant dedication:
I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man’s potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Let our children come here, and know this history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim ‘never again.’ And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.”
Trump, however, seemingly unaware, or more likely, incapable of considering time and place, focused only on himself in this brief writing:
It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends — so amazing and will never forget!”
Why, though, should we find this surprising? On International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27, 2017), in his ceremonial speech commemorating the Holocaust, Donald Trump denounced the “horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror” while never once mentioning Jews and anti-Semitism.
While the Nazis targeted several groups for interrogation, incarceration, and death, the regime singled out the Jewish people for mass genocide in their “final solution.” Though Donald Trump has only a limited grasp of world history, we could have at least assumed that even he would know this basic fact.
My body shook with rage and my blood thickened at the sight of Donald Trump laying a ceremonial wreath at Yad Vashem. This sacred site stands as a testament and memorial to the victims and to the righteous under Nazi atrocities. Just by stepping foot on the hallowed ground of Jerusalem, the place of confluence between three great monotheistic world religions, Trump committed an outrage with his hypocrisy, vested self-interests, and moral bankruptcy.
When speaking to Arab and Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his trip, Trump pushed for unity in stamping out “Islamic extremism” in their territories, but he reversed previous U.S. policy by not pushing for democratic values and human rights in the Middle East. Neither did Trump speak out in Israel against the harsh treatment of Palestinians under the occupation.
But this is no surprise since Trump and his administration have been continually undermining democratic values and human rights in his own country, the United States.
Donald Trump’s lack of knowledge and little apparent interest in learning even the fundamentals surrounding the issues in world and domestic affairs, combined with his enormous power imperils not only the United States, but nations across the globe.