Trump Focuses on Terrorism

Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, Hezbollah and Hamas are terror groups, Trump says, and we can only applaud. Maybe he can convince the Palestinians that peace with Israel depends on ending terrorism.

By Moshe Arens

All Israelis can identify with U.S. President Donald Trump’s desire to eliminate terrorism. Some may not agree with his policies in other areas, others are still waiting to see what his intentions really are, but as for fighting terrorism, Israelis stand with him.

Israelis have been the foremost victims of acts of terror – planes have been hijacked, cities and towns have been racked by rockets, athletes have been murdered, restaurants and places of entertainment have been blown up. Israeli civilians have been deliberately targeted by terrorists.

As the years go by, other nations have seen their civilian population attacked by terrorists. Civilians have been murdered in New York, Madrid, Paris, London and a long list of other cities around the world. Israel has become a member of a family of nations that have been struck by terrorists. Many are looking to Israel for help in combating terrorism.

But for many years terrorism directed against Israel was seen around the world as somehow different than the terrorism experienced by other nations, maybe more understandable. The hijackers and suicide bombers were pictured as “freedom fighters” fighting for Palestinian independence, using presumably the only weapon available to them – hitting at civilians, the easy target.

Trump is saying the obvious: All terrorism is evil, all terrorism must be fought tooth and nail. No cause can justify the killing of innocent civilians. There is no difference between an attack on the Twin Towers in New York, the shooting of civilians in the streets of London or the suicide bombing of a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist organizations, he says, and we can only applaud. When he declares that Iran is a state that sponsors terrorism, Israelis don’t need to be reminded that they have been the victims of that terrorism. Iran was behind the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the bombing of a Jewish community center there. Hezbollah is trained, equipped and funded by Iran and takes its orders from Tehran. Iran is supporting Bashar Assad in his battles against the Islamic State. These are terrorists fighting terrorists.

Assad, who claims to be fighting terrorists, is responsible for the death of half a million civilians in Syria. The Middle East has become a battleground for all kinds of terrorists, and Israel is caught in the middle.

Fight terrorists, Trump tells Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority. Stop giving subsidies to the families of convicted terrorists in prison. Stop glorifying terrorists. And Abbas has a problem.

Not all Palestinians are terrorists, and many like Abbas have concluded that acts of terrorism are a disservice to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people. And yet there is support for terrorism among many Palestinians. The methods used by terrorists around the world – the blowing up of airliners, the use of suicide bombers, the knifing of civilians, the car-rammings against pedestrians – were invented by Palestinian terrorists. The patents for these grisly acts are listed in their name.

Trump may be under the impression that Abbas has agreed to stop payments to the families of convicted terrorists, and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has already announced it, but the PA was quick to deny it. Maybe Trump can convince Abbas that the road to peace with Israel leads through a cessation of terrorism against Israelis. There can be no peace between Israelis and Palestinians as long as terrorism continues.

Unlike Barack Obama, Trump seems to understand this. Maybe Abbas understands this as well but is incapable of putting an end to Palestinian terrorism. In that case he’s not likely to be a partner for peace with Israel.

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