Trump and Clinton.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This is one peculiar presidential election. Hillary Clinton’s popularity and credibility are performing Olympic-level synchronized diving, and even Republicans understand that Donald Trump may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Yet, after weighing factors beyond the candidates’ personalities, voters for whom Israel’s future is a priority will find it clearly preferable to vote Republican, and to vote for Trump for president. Here are a few main reasons:
The Republicans have the more solidly pro-Israel presidential team. A vote for president is really a vote for an entire administration. Besides being vocally pro-Israel himself, the people with whom Trump has surrounded himself include Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and John Bolton – as rock-solid a team on Israel-related issues as has ever been assembled. Furthermore, his Israel specialists are two kippa-wearing aides with intimate knowledge of this country.
Clinton’s team, by contrast? J Street favorite Tim Kaine, who boycotted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s congressional speech; Huma Abedin; Madeline Albright... feeling reassured yet?
Republicans will repeal FATCA. Democrats won’t. FATCA (the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), arguably the dumbest law passed during the Obama years, treats ordinary Americans abroad as if they are money-laundering criminals. It coerces every non-US financial institution to segregate their American-citizen clients, collecting reams of private information on them and sending it all to the IRS. The benefits are minimal; the intrusion great – but the compliance costs are staggering.
To avoid those costs, financial institutions in Israel and worldwide are increasingly slamming their doors shut on Americans and their businesses, denying US citizens even basic financial services. Besides the implications for 360,000 Americans already living in Israel, this can only hinder aliya, and, by extension, harm the Israeli economy.
The Democrats own FATCA, having rammed it through Congress without a single Republican vote. Republicans worldwide – led by Republicans Overseas Israel – have fought it, successfully getting FATCA-repeal included in the Republican platform, as well as likely new FATCA congressional hearings. The Democrats have been AWOL.
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Clinton’s actual record on Israel issues is deplorable. Granted, she says the right words when pandering to AIPAC conferences, New York voters and wealthy Jewish donors, but facts are facts, and her actual Israel record is incriminating:
• Getting Iran wrong. Repeatedly. In 2009, the “Green Revolution” had the apocalyptic Islamofascist Ahmadinejad gang on the ropes. American support might have made all the difference, but the secretary of state, intent on delusional “engagement” with the world’s most evil and dangerous regime, gave the democratic dissidents the cold shoulder. OK, Clinton did take some action: she cut off funding to organizations supporting Iranian human rights. And then sat by as thousands of brave Iranians were imprisoned, tortured and executed. Not exactly hope and change.
Iran. Hezbollah. Hamas. Syria. Yemen. Islamic State. Iraq. How different might the dark forces in Israel’s neighborhood look today had Clinton not betrayed America’s democratic values in exercising her “smart power”? Clinton also repeatedly watered down sanctions against Iran, and it was during her tenure that negotiations began with the Ahmadinejad regime, culminating in the Iranian nuclear deal. Which she supported, and still supports.
• “Daylight” between the US and Israel. The Obama administration ostentatiously sought to put “daylight” – diplomatic distance – between the US and Israel. Clinton made sure there was lots of room for daylight to fall. Whether by comparing the status of women in Israel to that in Iran, rejecting the “legitimacy” of all Jewish – and only Jewish – construction across the Green Line (Jerusalem neighborhoods included), publicly berating Prime Minister Netanyahu for announcing Jerusalem home building, demanding reckless concessions from Israel to promote peace talks (not actual peace, of course – just talks) while never making serious demands of the Palestinian Authority or ever holding it accountable, granting legitimacy to George Soros-sponsored J Street or questioning Israel’s commitment to its American alliance, Clinton guided US-Israel relations to what the Israeli ambassador reportedly called the “lowest level in 35 years.”
The Republicans have become the pro-Israel party. Democrats talk big about their commitment to Israel, but in reality most have only been fair-weather friends. When Clinton and President Barack Obama were abusing Israel diplomatically, where was the pushback from congressional Democrats? Even the dozens of Jewish Democrats in Congress meekly stood with the administration. Republicans, on the other hand, have stood up for Israel unapologetically, and just passed the most pro-Israel platform in history.
The degree to which support for Israel is no longer bipartisan is lamentable and worrisome. Today’s Democrats are not the pro-Israel centrists of yesteryear, but have lurched to the Left, and include swelling ranks of anti-Zionists. That makes it important to vote Republican in Senate and congressional races, as well as for president.
We understand: for many voters, this election presents a choice that is not pleasant. But in the end, it also presents a choice that is not hard. For Israel-focused Americans, that choice is to vote Republican.
The author is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as counsel to Republicans Overseas Israel.
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