US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a news conference at UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York, 2018.
(photo credit: JEENAH MOON/REUTERS)
For Israel’s supporters in America, Nikki Haley was a superstar.
She won them over with a memorable speech at the AIPAC convention in 2017, right after US President Donald Trump was elected and she became ambassador to the UN.
“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick them every single time,” she said, to enthusiastic applause. “So for anyone that says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.”
She became the new darling of the pro-Israel crowd, and her appearances at AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups often included media reports that she received a “rock-star” ovation.
That’s for good reason. Unapologetically, calmly and intelligently, Haley passionately called out the UN over its anti-Israel bias; eloquently defended Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem; and firmly called the Palestinians out for the folly of many of their policies – such as insulting her and her boss.
Her uncompromising support for Israel at the UN conjured up memories of former US ambassadors to the UN, Daniel Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Many American Jews, pleased with Trump’s policies on Israel but equally unhappy with Trump’s behavior and governing style, have said – some quietly, while others more openly – that they wished Haley were president. Maybe one day she will run for the Oval Office – and maybe quitting now is part of an overall strategy to do just that.
Israel, undeniably, has lost a staunch advocate and eloquent defender inside the Trump administration. However, it has other such advocates and defenders in the president’s inner circle – unlike in the days of the Obama administration.
When Dennis Ross left the White House in November 2011, Israel lost its last strong proponent in the president’s inner circle, someone who could argue on behalf of the Jewish state.
Today, in addition to Haley
, there are a number of key people in Trump’s inner circle who are strong supporters of Israel. Vice President Mike Pence is one. National Security Advisor John Bolton is another. Then there is Trump’s senior advisor and son-in- law Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Haley eloquently defended Israel at the UN, but the positions she so elegantly articulated were not hers alone – they reflected the overall thinking and world view of the current administration.
Haley’s presence at the UN, her style and her avid defense, will surely be missed by Israel. The consolation to Jerusalem is that there are other influential officials inside Trump’s national security team who share her opinions about the UN, Israel and the Middle East.
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