The waning influence of the US in the Middle East and around the world will have
far-reaching consequences for the Jewish people and Israel, a former US diplomat
told a Knesset committee on Tuesday.
Stuart Eizenstat, the former US
ambassador to the UN and a Jewish policy expert, said Washington is having to
come to terms with its shrinking economic might and the rise of Islamists in
countries like Egypt, drastically changing its diplomatic capabilities in the
“The US has always been an ascendent power – not always a
dominant one... but after the Second World War it become a dominant one,” he
said. “We remain and will remain the dominant power but others are closing the
gap military, economical and politically.”
The ex-diplomat, who recently
released a book called The Future of the Jews, said his nation is now competing
for power with the BRICs, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and
others. These countries, he said, will have more of a say in world politics
commensurate with their new economic status.
At the same time, Eizenstat
said the US would continue to play an important part in international politics
in the future.
“We’ve dug ourselves a deep hole but continue to produce
25 percent of world GDP and of particular importance to Israel we continue to be
the only power to project air, land and sea power globally,” he
Eizenstat, who is a well-connected Democratic party lobbyist, also
commented on Iran’s nuclear program. He praised US President Barack Obama for
putting together an “unprecedented” set of sanctions against Tehran, which
Israel has accused of trying to obtain nuclear weapons.
“On the broadest
level, the US and Europe share a common goal with Israel, that is to deny Iran a
weapon,” said Eizenstat. “Obama has got together an unprecedented set of
sanctions – including those against South Africa and North
Eizenstat then turned his attention to ties between Israel and
the Jewish Diaspora. The balance of power in the Jewish world has shifted, he
Since 2007, the largest single Jewish community in the world lives
in Israel, surpassing the US. This trend, which he said he expects to continue,
mirrors global politics.
“Just as there has been a profound shift of
power from the US elsewhere there has been a shift of power from the Diaspora to
Israel,” he said.
For that reason he expected Israel to become
increasingly responsible for setting up and funding programs fostering Jewish
ties. He cited Taglit- Birthright, which brings young Jewish adults on free
trips to Israel, as an example.
Eizenstat called on the Israeli
government to increase its funding of the program assuming responsibility from
private donors like US businessmen Michael Steinhardt and Charles
He said Birthright and other programs were the best way to
reduce intermarriage and assimilation in Jewish America.
“When my wife
and I get an invitation to a Jewish wedding that’s not the rule,” he said,
“that’s the exception.”