US presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) and Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Throughout the US presidential election campaign, The Jerusalem Post will not endorse a Democratic, Republican or any other candidate.
This has been the paper’s policy in past elections and it will remain so in the present one, despite the possible misperception of some readers.
Part of the reason has to do with the fact that bipartisan support for the State of Israel continues to remain strong in the US. Regardless of whether the Democratic or the Republican candidate is voted into office, we are confident that Israel will continue to have the backing of the US. Ties between the countries will remain unshakably strong.
The two countries share common values and beliefs that are rooted deeply in their respective societies. Regardless of who is elected in November, cooperation between Israel and the US will continue to be close.
Our paper’s reporting strives to reflect this position as well. We make every effort to report fairly and evenhandedly on developments affecting both candidates, rising above the temptation to favor one or the other. Of course, we criticize, analyze and expose the positions of both candidates, particularly on issues of import to Israel or to the Jewish people, as part of our duty to inform our readers.
And because there are more than 300,000 American citizens living in Israel with voting rights, the Post also serves as an important component in the democratic process by enabling US expats to make a more educated decision when they vote in November.
Hillary Clinton’s main challenge from the point of view of Israelis who tend to be hawkish on matters concerning Israel is overcoming her legacy as the former secretary of state under US President Barack Obama. It is no secret that relations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration have deteriorated since Obama took office in 2008.
As secretary of state under Obama, Clinton put pressure on Netanyahu to impose a settlement freeze in 2009, which hurt relations between the two countries’ governments.
Admittedly, Clinton later came to regret the move, writing in her 2014 memoir Hard Choices: “In retrospect, our early, hard line on settlements did not work.”
She has nevertheless continued to be outspoken in her criticism of settlements, telling CNN that they are clearly “a terrible signal to send if at the same time you claim you’re looking for a two-state solution.”
Clinton also helped lay the ground for the Iran nuclear deal, so hugely unpopular among Israelis, and is now working hard to defend the deal and reassure its critics.
Donald Trump’s challenges are very different. While Clinton has a track record that makes her unattractive to many who are hawkish on Israel, Trump lacks a track record altogether. And many are concerned with his utter lack of experience or knowledge of foreign policy matters.
In September, during an interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, for instance, Trump was unable to distinguish between Hezbollah and Hamas and confused Iran’s Quds Force with the Kurds.
Trump has also been inconsistent when it comes to his positions on Israel. In December he said he would remain “neutral” in any peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but in March during an AIPAC speech he said it would be difficult to remain neutral.
Another potentially worrying aspect of Trump’s foreign policy position is his tendency toward isolationism. He has questioned the fairness of America’s huge role in interventions abroad and has demanded that other countries do their part. His inconsistencies and unpredictability are of particular concern to America’s allies – including Israel.
The upcoming US presidential election present a unique challenge for those contemplating which candidate to support. Both Clinton and Trump have made it clear they view Israel as an important ally. Both candidates have made it clear that they will continue to provide strong support to the Jewish state and maintain its qualitative military edge. And both acknowledge the shared values of US and Israeli societies.
There are aspects of both candidates’ policies toward Israel that should be viewed critically. As a paper that caters to a readership that cares about the success and strength of the Jewish state, we will continue to report critically and accurately on the positions of both. Refraining from endorsing either as the preferred candidate to become the next president of the US enables us to do our job better.