Naftali Bennett’s Meeting with Joe Biden Began to Repair the Cracks in the U.S.-Israel Alliance

Oct. 12 2021

On August 27, the Israeli prime minister met with the American president in the White House, in what the former hoped was an opportunity to move away from the tensions between Washington and Jerusalem—and specifically between Jerusalem and the Democrats—of the past twelve years. Eran Lerman is sanguine about the meeting, but notes there are serious threats to the Jewish state’s most important alliance.

Israel’s new prime minister, despite being politically identified with the right wing and with Judea and Samaria settlements, has been given an opportunity to shake off his predecessor’s “baggage,” as it is referred to in American political jargon. . . . As far as we know, Bennett did find common ground with Biden. On a personal level, their interaction was amicable. Bennett is not perceived by the president and his staff as tainted by overidentification with Republicans. Although Biden was distracted by the Afghanistan crisis, he spent longer than expected in conversation with Bennett and reportedly found in the prime minister an attentive listener.

[Moreover], it can be argued the prime minister’s visit to Washington at this sensitive time reminded the public, the professional echelon, and U.S. politicians of Israel’s value as a democratic, reliable, and strong ally that does not ask American soldiers to bleed in its defense. In other words, Israel is everything that Afghanistan never was and never could be. Therein lies the importance of the U.S.-Israel “special relationship,” now more than ever.

Nonetheless, Lerman writes, the Jewish state faces a serious challenge from the growing influence of anti-Israel sentiment in the left wing of the Democratic party, which it “needs the help of American Jews” to counter. But getting this help requires:

an intensive and consistent effort to restore significantly Israel’s relationship with American Jewry, which has reached a dangerous threshold of erosion. . . . Improvement in the Washington-Jerusalem relationship has implications for the atmosphere in ties with members of the Jewish community.

Israel’s top political leadership must be harnessed for this effort, alongside relevant ministers and ranking professionals in the [government]. It must also be reflected in policies on sensitive issues in Israel, especially the Western Wall question and attitudes toward non-Orthodox denominations. Only if a strong foundation of support is rebuilt within American Jewry and with both sides of the party divide that is tearing America apart will the Israeli government be able to conduct a pragmatic conversation [with the U.S.] on the complex subject of Iran.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: American Jewry, Israel and the Diaspora, Joe Biden, Naftali Bennett, US-Israel relations


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy