ONE POLITICAL party says that a “strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance and pluralism.” The other says that “support for Israel is an expression of Americanism.”
One party vows, “We will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.”
The other says it recognizes “that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel.”
Unless you have carefully studied this year’s Democratic and Republican party platforms, you would not know which quotes came from which platform.
There is a reason for that: Israel is, has been and always will be a bipartisan issue. Since the early days of Israel’s founding, Americans have recognized that of all countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one that shares our democratic values.
The critical difference this year is not in the platforms, but in the presidential candidates themselves.
Democrat Hillary Clinton has a history of support for Israel, having long spoken about the “unshakable ties” between the United States and Israel, and noting that fighting for Israel is “a personal commitment to the friendship between our peoples and our vision for peace and security.”
Clinton knows the players in Israel — from the Israelis she befriended as first lady, to the government officials she met at the negotiating table.
As a senator, she fought to ensure that Israel’s Magen David Adom be accepted by the International Red Cross, spearheading a successful amendment to withhold money from the international body until the IRC ultimately admitted MDA. She introduced and sponsored bills to support Israel, including the Palestinian Anti- Terrorism Act in 2006 to block foreign assistance to Hamas.
As secretary of state, she negotiated a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, decried the UN Goldstone Report as biased, annually requested increased military assistance to Israel, condemned the United Nations Human Rights Council for its “structural bias against Israel,” and opposed dozens of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and other world bodies.
Clinton rightfully and forcefully has denounced BDS. A devoted Methodist, she had no problem warning her church that BDS is an effort to delegitimize Israel and is “counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
Republican Donald Trump, meanwhile, time and again, has demonstrated not only his unfamiliarity with foreign policy, the Middle East included, but also, stunningly, his seeming unwillingness to step up his game in this campaign.
In an echo of 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who said she read “all” the papers, when Trump was asked where he gets his foreign policy advice, he responded from “the shows,” referring to political talk shows.
He could not distinguish between Hamas and Hezbollah, though he promised that he would study up before taking office.
Trump brought up an anti-Semitic stereotype when talking to a Jewish audience, saying, “This room negotiates deals. Perhaps more than any room I’ve spoken to.” And not only has he rarely denounced some of his followers for their outrageous anti- Semitic rants, he also has a penchant for retweeting musings from known anti-Semites and racists.
Trump’s two top Israel advisers are lawyers with no foreign policy experience. One, David Friedman, is a bankruptcy lawyer, who says, contrary to demographic forecasts, that “it is simply not true that Jews will become a minority in their own land if a two-state solution is not implemented.”
The other, Jason Greenblatt, is the executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Trump Organization, who, after the candidate offhandedly identified him as a top adviser, said, “I knew that he was relying on me for certain aspects of Israel, but I didn’t know I was his top adviser.” Greenblatt has said that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be handled like “a business transaction.”
And, although Trump claims to be a good friend to Israel, he also said he would be the “neutral guy” in negotiating the Israel- Palestinian conflict.
Conservative foreign policy experts are breaking ranks with the Republican Party, fearing a Trump presidency. An open letter with more than 100 signers called Trump “fundamentally dishonest” and “utterly unfitted to the office.” Trump, they wrote, “would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.”
A presidency that threatens the United States and its world standing threatens Israel as well.
A Clinton presidency, by contrast, will be good for the United States, good for Israel, and good for the world. Greg Rosenbaum is chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council
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