From Israel’s Perspective, Joe Biden Is as Good as It Gets—for a Democrat

August 12, 2020 | Shmuel Rosner
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Most Israelis would, if given a choice, want Donald Trump to get another four years in the White House, not because of his domestic policies or his personal style, but because they see him as having been unusually favorable toward their own country. To Shmuel Rosner, this evaluation is essentially correct—but that doesn’t mean a Biden presidency would be disastrous:

As far as Israelis are concerned, Mr. Biden has two disadvantages. He is not Trump, and he is a Democrat. In other words, he is not the candidate they support and he comes from the party many of them distrust. In recent years, there’s been a steady drift of Democratic voters—and some Democratic politicians—away from Israel. They are more likely to say that the United States should be an impartial broker in the Middle East, rather than take Israel’s side—and they tended to oppose recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. So it’s not unjustified for Israelis to worry.

Of course, it would be foolish to predict the exact policies of a Biden administration in the Middle East. But there is history to consider. Biden is hardly a newcomer, after all. [He] understands Israel’s concerns. He understands the need to use force.

Biden could [even] provide an opportunity for Israel to re-emerge as a truly bipartisan cause in America. Biden is a self-defined Zionist and a longtime supporter of Israel familiar with both the issues and the main players, who instinctively understands of the country’s security concerns. Sure, pressures from within the party could be a problem. Sure, there would be thorny disagreements to surmount if he becomes the next president. But from an Israeli perspective, Biden is as good as it gets—for a Democrat.

As for Biden’s choice of Kamala Harris as a running mate, Rosner is above all relieved that she got the spot over Susan Rice—who was reportedly under consideration and whose long diplomatic career has established a record of frostiness toward Israel, appeasement of Iran, and ineffective policies. Rosner adds:

Of all the realistic potential Democratic vice-presidential candidates, Senator Harris was Israel’s choice. . . . [L]ike Biden, she is neither an ideologue nor a dreamer. She understands that under certain circumstances there is a need to use force and therefore would be open to the option that Israel occasionally must use force.

Representative Rashida Tlaib once tweeted that Harris’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meant that Harris is no longer “part of the resistance to racism against all people.” That’s another reason for Israelis to be pleased. Not because Tlaib would be unhappy but because Harris was never a part of a group or a movement that targeted Israel as a symbol of misbehavior.

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