Monday, December 5th | 12 Kislev 5783

September 14, 2020 5:30 am

Trump Deserves the Nobel Prize for Middle East Peace

avatar by Shmuley Boteach


Israeli model May Tager, holding an Israeli flag, poses with Dubai-resident model Anastasia Bandarenka, holding an Emirati flag, during a photo shoot for FIX’s Princess Collection, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 8, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Christopher Pike.

When I was a rabbi at Oxford for 11 years, we hosted an annual lecture that was delivered by a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Among the prize recipients we hosted were Elie Wiesel, twice, Mikhail Gorbachev, Joseph Rotblat, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Rabin, whose speech was canceled a few hours before it was delivered because the first of the horrific bus bombings that followed the Oslo Accords, for which he won the prize.

I have been around many other recipients of the prize, from Desmond Tutu to Jody Williams to Henry Kissinger — and also the Dalai Lama.

Through all these experiences, I was conscious of the fact that I was in the presence of a recipient of the world’s most prestigious prize, but also that the prize had been severely compromised in recent years. The worst example was the bloodstained hands of Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism, receiving the prize, which undermined a piece of the prize forever.

If Trump is denied the prize in October it will further erode the credibility of the world’s most prestigious award. This prize is not about whether you love or hate Trump. It’s about the man or woman who has done more to advance the cause of peace than any other over the past year.

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The Israel-UAE peace treaty is transformative. Unlike the peace accords between Israel and Egypt and Jordan, it is not a cold peace. Unlike Jimmy Carter’s Camp David accords, it does not require that Israel return vast tracts of land that were conquered in a defensive war. Unlike Bill Clinton’s efforts to bring peace between Israel and Jordan, it heralds not only a relationship between Israel and a single neighbor, but a transformative new era in the entire Middle East.

For decades, the region has been defined by the three “T’s” — tyranny, terrorism, and tribalism. Israel’s enemies have been allowed to scapegoat the Jewish state as the reason for the region’s conflicts, something the Obama administration naively bought into. The Gulf states are not so blind. They know that the cancer in the region is the government of Iran and its expansionist, revolutionary vision for Mullah-based Middle East hegemony. That’s the principal reason President Trump has been successful in the Middle East where Obama failed.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen winners of the Nobel Peace Prize who are not widely known to the public. Those who are well-known are often celebrated not necessarily for making peace, but for heroic acts that sent a message to monsters who harm innocents, like the 2014 choice of Malala Yousafzai for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” The greatest American of the 20th century, Martin Luther King, Jr., was chosen for the prize not because he brought peace — just look at the racial strife that is tearing America apart — but to acknowledge his heroic struggle for racial justice. Mother Theresa won the prize for her outstanding humanitarian work in Calcutta. The Dalai Lama did not bring peace to Tibet. It is occupied by an authoritarian China still today. Rather, he won the prize for advocating peace.

Don’t get me wrong. These are all extremely worthy recipients. But the prize’s ultimate purpose is not just to celebrate great individuals or achievements, but to celebrate those who bring peace.

Trump is different from many of those I just mentioned. He is polarizing, lacks universal popularity, and is hated by many. But he has actually brought peace. The Middle East landscape before and after Trump is very different — and for the better.

I was in Oslo last November. I visited the Grand Hotel where the Nobel Peace Laureate stays in a beautiful suite with a balcony from which he or she is cheered. The Nobel Committee in Norway has just a few weeks to decide who will be on that balcony (if conditions allow). But the decision should be based not on what their colleagues might think of them, but on which person did the most to ensure that there is less war and greater peace.

Shmuley Boteach is a writer and rabbi.

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