- - Sunday, May 20, 2018


Donald Trump isn’t the first man to point out that life in the Middle East is built largely on a mirage of fantasy and resentment. But he is the first man in a long time to do something about it. Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is simply a long-overdue recognition of the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and the Jews aren’t going anywhere.

Now there’s something else to work on, a task considerably more difficult than merely moving an embassy. Forging peace in the Middle East and carving out a homeland for the Palestinians will require eliminating the corrosive influence of the mullahs in Iran. Like an unforgiving manager pushing his punch-drunk fighter back into the ring for another round of punishment, the dead-end Islamic regime in Tehran has spent 40 years using the Palestinians as a blunt instrument with which to batter the state of Israel. The Iranian religious extremists demand that Muslims must occupy the place from which they believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven.

The Palestinians of Gaza marked the opening of the new embassy by hurling themselves by the thousands against restraining fences at the Israeli border with Gaza, urged on by holy men of Hamas, Iran’s proxies. The bamboozled men, women and even children brought to the scene of conflict and deployed to throw stones and burn tires, were trying to degrade Israeli defenses. Many were surprised by the determined resistance of a nation they are told, over and over, has no right to exist. Dozens were killed. The holy men who urged the assault, however, remained safe and sound in Tehran, taking their ease.

Predictably, the Europeans blamed Israel for defending itself, reading off the usual denunciations they should by now know by heart. Ireland’s Foreign Ministry called the Israeli ambassador in for a lecture and to express “shock and dismay” at the Palestinian casualties. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called the Israeli defense “unacceptable violence,” and said it betrayed a “clear lack of proportionality.” The German government, which ought to restrain its criticism of Jews defending themselves, said the violence “concerns us greatly.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley rightly rebuked the United Nations for its double standard, which holds Israel guilty for defending itself rather than blaming the persistent instigators for the assault. “Let’s remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years,” she said, “long before the United States decided to move our embassy.”

The flood of terror has washed westward, surrounding Israel on all sides, financed in large part by the Iranian proceeds of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which sent billions of dollars trickling down to Hamas. Since they never go near the scene of their crimes, the Iranian mullahs can’t get enough death and destruction. After the Israelis, responding to a rocket attack, destroyed Iranian installations just over the horizon in Syria, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami threatened from his place of ease in Tehran to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The West should harbor no illusions about the Islamic state’s ill intentions, and last week President Trump took the bold and prudent step of withdrawing the United States from Barack Obama’s sweetheart nuclear pact with Iran. Bold and prudent response to Iran’s funding of conventional warfare and assymetrical terror is no less crucial. The mullahs have little tolerance in their own nation for violence like they encourage on the Israeli border.

When evidence of election fraud tainted the results of Iran’s 2009 presidential election, the government crushed protests with deadly force and arrested the organizers of the protests. The regime has taken pains to rehabilitate its legitimacy, succeeding only with those who wish Israel ill, but Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate who says his victory was stolen, has been under house arrest with his wife for seven years.

Mr. Obama ignored the Iranian depredations and smoothed its path to regional hegemony built on fantasy. Mr. Trump should remind the mullahs that revolution is a double-edged sword. The turmoil the holy men incite at the Israeli border could catch fire at home. Only deceit and malevolence has kept the Palestinians at Israeli throats for generations, fueled by the vain hope that one day the Jews will be swept off the land. This won’t happen, and the holy men know their speeches are lies that prevent peace and the prosperity that could come with it.

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