A Pro-Jewish State of the Union

At Tuesday night’s address to the American people, writes Abe Greenwald, the president made multiple pronouncements of particular relevance to the Jewish people—all of them for the good:

President Trump used his State of the Union address in part to celebrate the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, call out Iran on its genocidal hatred of Jews, confront anti-Semitism generally, and tie his conception of American greatness to the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. . . .

For Trump, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was, as he put it, a matter of “principled realism.” Based on that realism, his administration “proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.” Nothing here about both sides having to bend or about Israel now having to “do its part for peace.” The president of the United States simply noted that he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because it is. And that’s the most powerful thing he could have said on the matter.

The president [also] called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terror” and emphasized that “it is a radical regime.” He went on: “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants ‘death to America’ and threatens genocide against the Jewish people.” No garbage about make-believe moderate mullahs, no specious conflation of the Iranian people and the regime, no wishful fantasies about Iran’s tyrannical theocracy showing heartening signs, and, finally, no equivocating about the nature of its obsessive anti-Semitism. In all, a welcome return to moral sanity.

Trump talked about a great many other things [as well], but it’s remarkable the extent to which his speech acknowledged, celebrated, and urged on America’s doing right by the Jews. It would be welcome enough if he emphasized such things in an address to an exclusively Jewish audience, but this was a State of the Union speech, and so his words were meant to shape our very understanding of America.

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More about: American politics, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Politics & Current Affairs

 

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations