U.S. President Donald Trump told American lawmakers gathered to hear him deliver the State of the Union in the halls of Congress on Tuesday night that one of the most complex challenges his administration has faced is in the Middle East.
“Our approach is based on principled realism — not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress,” Trump said.
“For this reason, my Administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.”
He noted that American troops have been fighting in the Middle East for nearly 19 years. “In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives,” he said. “More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.”
Trump said “great nations do not fight endless wars,” and while the U.S. military continues to work with its allies to destroy the remnants of the Islamic State terrorist organization, he said “it’s time to give America’s brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.”
On Iran, Trump reviewed his administration’s record of achievement in the withdrawal from the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, and reinstating tough sanctions on Tehran. He also talked about Iran’s current behavior towards the United States, and towards Jews.
“We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants ‘death to America’ and threatens genocide against the Jewish people,” he said.
“We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs.
“Tonight, we are also joined by Pittsburgh survivor Judah Samet. He arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began. But not only did Judah narrowly escape death last fall — more than seven decades ago, he narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps. Today is Judah’s 81st birthday. Judah says he can still remember the exact moment, nearly 75 years ago, after 10 months in a concentration camp, when he and his family were put on a train, and told they were going to another camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then, his father cried out with joy: “It’s the Americans.”
“A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp. He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. “To me,” Joshua recalls, “the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.”
“I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War,” the president went on. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom.”