By: Fern Sidman
In a presidential inauguration that will take its rightful place in the annals of history, populist candidate Donald John Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on Friday afternoon, January 20th.
Surrounded by his family, close friends, several former presidents and members of Congress, the billionaire businessman turned “change agent” in his much anticipated presidential role, delivered a highly impactful address. True to his campaign promises, Trump said he would put America first, make it great again and fight terrorism.
Unlike the Obama administration’s position on terrorism, President Trump actually gave voice to the genesis of contemporary barbarism and referred to underpinnings of the global terrorist threat as “radical Islam.”
He said before a record breaking crowd in front of the Capital:
“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.
“We will face challenges. We will confront hardships, but we will get the job done. Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power. And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent. Thank you.
“Today's ceremony however, has very special meaning, because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people.
“For too long, [those in politics] have reaped the rewards of government while people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth.
“Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs, and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
“That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
“Because what truly matters is not what truly controls our government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” Trump said.
“The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans,” he stressed.
“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first,” he promised.
“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow. We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and reform the world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth,” promised the new President.
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
“When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
“Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage, goodness, and love will forever guide us along the way.
“Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again.
“And yes, together, we will make America great again.”
Moments after the speech, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier, delivered a benediction in which he said, “Bless President Donald J. Trump and America and our great nation.
“By the rivers of Babylon we wept as we remembered Zion. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning,” said Rabbi Hier, quoting Psalms 137.
On Sunday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone to President Trump in what was described by the Prime Minister’s Office as a “very warm conversation,” as was reported by the World Israel News web site.
Netanyahu expressed his desire to work closely with the American leader and to forge a common vision to advance peace and security in the region, “with no daylight between the United States and Israel,” the PMO said.
WIN also reported that the discussion was focused on the Iran nuclear deal and a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, among other issues.
Trump “affirmed his unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security and stressed that countering ISIL and other radical Islamic terrorist groups will be a priority for his Administration,” the statement said, using the alternative acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group.” according to a White House statement.
“The President emphasized that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Israel to make progress towards that goal.”
Moreover, the statement said that Trump invited Netanyahu to visit the White House in early February, making him one of the first foreign leaders invited to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. under the new administration.
Over the weekend, Israel announced plans to build nearly 600 Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, with Netanyahu pledging “unrestricted” building in East Jerusalem soon.
“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, said on Sunday.
The Trump administration, however, has been treading cautiously on the issue of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the candidate has promised. Its spokesman said that it has yet to decide on when to make the move.
INN reported that on Monday, Sean Spicer, in his first Q&A with reporters as White House press secretary, said that President Trump had not yet made a decision about the embassy move.
“There’s no decision,” Spicer said when he was asked about whether the administration had considered the strategic consequences of a move. “We’re at the very early stages of that decision-making process.”
Later, asked whether Trump would order the move through executive action, Spicer said: “It’s very early in this process. We’re at the beginning stages of this decision-making process and his team will continue to consult with stakeholders there.”
Finally, a third reporter asked Spicer whether he meant there was no decision yet — not just on when, but whether to move the embassy.
“If it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through the process,” Spicer said.
Trump said while he campaigned and reportedly as recently as last week that he planned to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. Last week, Spicer said there would be an announcement “soon.”
The PA leadership has said in recent days that an embassy move could bury any vestiges of the peace process, which Trump has said he would like to advance. MSNBC reported Monday that Trump believes that advancing peace is a greater priority than moving the embassy. Jordan, a close U.S. ally, has also warned that the move could destabilize the region.
Congress in 1995 passed a law mandating a move to Jerusalem, but allowed presidents to waive it every six months for national security reasons; successive presidents have done so. Trump would need to issue a waiver by the end of May if he chooses not to move the embassy.
Over the past two decades, presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have used security waivers to defer transfer of the embassy from Tel Aviv.
On Tuesday, INN reported that influential Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said that moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital, Jerusalem, would be a declaration of war on Islam.
"Transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem would be a public and more-explicit-than-ever declaration of war against Islam," he said in a statement.
Al-Sadr responded to reports by the White House that deliberations on the possible move had begun.
Sadr, a firebrand Shiite cleric whose militia once fought US occupation forces in Iraq, called for the "formation of a special division to liberate Jerusalem were the decision to be implemented."
The US is also concerned that the embassy move would alienate its allies in the Middle East who are helping to fight the onslaught of ISIS.
According to a report on ABC News, aides to Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz over the weekend that that no announcement of a U.S. Embassy move was imminent, leaving questions about when a decision could be announced or if it might be a gradual process.
The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, said that the Trump administration is committed to the move, telling Army Radio today that he’s had conversations with people in the new administration that show “they are serious about their intentions.” Barkat has long advocated for the move.
“I applaud President Trump on his historic announcement that the White House has begun discussions regarding moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem,” Barkat said in a statement. “President Trump has proven that he is a true friend of the state of Israel and a leader who keeps his promises. This evening’s announcement has sent a clear message to the world that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of the state of Israel. We will provide any and all necessary assistance to the U.S. administration to ensure that the embassy move is done seamlessly and efficiently.”
In December, Trump spokesman Jason Miller affirmed Trump’s commitment to moving the embassy, telling reporters on the phone that Trump made that promise “numerous” times during the campaign. Miller did not speculate on a timeline for a move or a site for the embassy.
At an October Trump rally in Israel, Trump’s nominee for the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told ABC News that if State Department employees refuse to move the embassy, they would be fired. The most recent ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, a veteran policy adviser, has already packed up and vacated his office in Tel Aviv.
By: Fern Sidman