WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump promised to put “America first” in his inaugural address, pledging to prevent other countries from taking advantage of the US and to return control of the country to its people.
Taking office at noon on Jan. 20 following a tumultuous and divisive presidential campaign, Trump said his term would herald a return of power from the elite in Washington, DC, to the American people.
“Their victories have not been your victories, their triumphs have not been your triumphs,” the former reality TV star said. “That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”
Trump said the US economy and military have suffered at the expense of other countries that benefit from American dollars, either in the form of military subsidies or factories built by American businesses.
Israel, which just signed a $38 billion military aid agreement with the US, is the biggest beneficiary of American foreign aid, which, however, is spent almost entirely in the US.
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military,” he said. “We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.”
Trump promised to prioritize “America first,” repeating the term.
“America first” was the name of an isolationist and often anti-Semitic movement leading up to WW II. Trump has said previously that the slogan has no connection to the movement.
“From this moment on, it’s going to be America first. America first,” he said. “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”
Following the inaugural address, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, delivered a benediction composed largely of quotes from the Bible.
Hier has known the family of Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for decades, and his center has received donations from them.
“Dispense justice for the needy and the orphan, for they have no one but their fellow citizens,” Hier said. “A nation’s wealth is measured by its values and not its vaults.”
Reacting to last week’s inaugural address of President Donald Trump, Jewish groups stuck to their ideological bearings.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations praised the unifying portions of Trump’s speech and called on him to safeguard Israel’s security and other Jewish interests.
“We welcome President Trump’s acknowledgement of the need to heal the divisions in our country, to improve the lives of all Americans, to reinforce alliances and to strengthen our security,” the statement said.
“We look forward to working with President Trump and his administration to deepen the historic special relationship between the US and Israel, enhance the safety and security of the Jewish state and its people and on other issues of vital importance to the American Jewish community.”
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, which opposes bigotry and promotes Holocaust remembrance, castigated Trump’s speech for failing to reassure the minorities the president’s statements targeted during his campaign. The statement also linked the president to the “alt-right,” a loose movement that traffics in white nationalism.
“He gave the most hateful speech based on alt-right nationalism we could have feared,” the center’s executive director, Steven Goldstein, said in a statement.
“Mr. President, you cannot make America great again if you make it exclusionary again. You did nothing to heal the wounds you inflicted upon women, people of color, LGBT people, immigrants, refugees and the differently abled.”
The Zionist Organization of America, a right-wing group whose leaders have praised Trump, congratulated him on “initiating a great new era of the US.” ZOA also praised Trump for using a verse quoted often by Jews from the Bible. In his speech, Trump said, “The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when G-d’s people live together in unity.”
“We appreciate our new President’s determination to eliminate the scourge of radical Islam, and his quote of one of our favorite lines from Psalm 133, often sung by the Jewish people, about dwelling together in unity,” the statement from ZOA President Morton Klein and Chairman Michael Goldblatt said.