Nikki Haley left her post as ambassador at the UN on New Year’s Eve and entered the pantheon of the pro-Israel community’s greatest heroes. There was palpable sadness upon her departure. When she announced in October that she was resigning, I remember feeling down the whole day.
The UN has been a cesspit of anti-Israel hatred for so long, then along came a champion of unsurpassed courage who stood up for American values and the Jewish state.
Can anyone replace her?
President Donald Trump, who deserves enormous credit for nominating Haley and supporting her ferocious pro-Israel posture, says he will now nominate State Department Undersecretary for Public Policy and Public Affairs Heather Nauert, whom I met in Washington a few weeks back.
As the State Department’s chief spokeswoman for the past two years, Nauert has shown the steely reserve of Haley, and then some. She was charged with going before the media and the world to explain Trump’s summary execution of Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran, reenacting sanctions, and bringing the Iranian rial to its lowest point in years. Obama’s appeasement of Iran had been embraced by most of Europe. Nauert had to communicate the regime’s brutality in a manner that overcame the expediency of making billions off the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world.
In consecutive briefings, Nauert made it unmistakably clear that the hatred and discord being sewn by Iran would be met with the strongest sanctions, and that any countries that sought to violate these sanctions would be held accountable.
Nauert also used her platform to give a voice to those suffering under the brutal rule of the mullahs.
In a tweet last October, Nauert again stood up for the people of Iran, calling on the Islamic Republic to embrace the type of religious tolerance introduced to the world by Cyrus the Great, who assisted his Jewish subjects in erecting the Second Temple in Jerusalem, then under his control. “The Iranian regime should learn a few lessons from his leadership and stop persecuting #Bahais, Christian converts, #Gonabadi Dervishes and other minority groups in #Iran” – shedding light on crimes entirely ignored by Obama during his negotiations with Iran.
When members of the Gonabadi Dervish community were murdered at the hands of the Iranian government – one in a summary execution, and the other at the hands of his interrogators – Nauert used her platform to make both their sacrifice and the true face of their murderous government known throughout the world.
Nauert has used her position to draw the world’s attention to the total disregard for democracy and human rights of even its nonminority citizens. When Iran’s bloodthirsty leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laughably claimed Iran had the world’s only “real democracy,” Nauert reminded the despot that “real democracies don’t arrest laborers for peacefully protesting about their unpaid salaries.”
In a world that has, for the past decade, tried to downplay Iran’s evils in the hope of lucrative business contracts, Nauert’s efforts to lift the veil on the regime’s awful record of human rights abuses have never mattered more.
With regard to the horrific civil war still playing out in Syria, Nauert has been at the front line of the administration’s efforts to stem civilian deaths in Syria, and make Bashar Assad pay a price for his use of poison gas against his own people. When reports emerged that Assad had used poison gas against his people in Duma in April of 2017, Nauert conveyed that the United States would “use all efforts available to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.” “Russia,” she insisted, “with its unwavering support for the regime, ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks.”
Nauert has also emerged as one of the world’s leading advocates for Syria’s White Helmets, a group of a few thousand volunteer rescue workers that have saved more than 70,000 lives since the Syrian civil war began. A makeshift emergency response team, the White Helmets was featured in an Academy Award-winning Netflix documentary, earning the world’s praise for its courageous operations to save helpless civilians amid the aerial bombardments of Assad’s blood-drenched offensives.
The White Helmets has been targeted across Syria for its work, with seven members being executed this past spring as they slept, awaiting the next emergency call. Beyond facing unthinkable physical dangers, the White Helmets is also being globally maligned by pro-Assad forces and periodicals, such as Sputnik and Russia Today, each of which has accused the group of having terrorist connections simply because it operates in rebel-held areas. Of course, those are the areas being ceaselessly bombarded by Assad and his Russian enablers.
Even former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, a rabid antisemite who has made it his life’s mission to destroy Israel economically, stopped a Barcelona concert to tell his audience that “the White Helmets is a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists.”
Through all this, Nauert repeatedly employed her powerful platform at the State Department to voice American backing for the struggling organization. In statements, briefings and even tweets, Nauert has gushed with unequivocal support for the “incredible group of individuals” known as the White Helmets.
“The Assad regime and Russia continue to falsely accuse the White Helmets through a massive disinformation campaign, leaving its volunteers at significant risk,” Nauert told reporters this past fall.
Speaking in no uncertain terms, Nauert asserted that “we recognize and appreciate and are very grateful for all the work that the White Helmets continues to do on behalf of the people of their country and on behalf of the US government and all the coalition forces.”
Nauert forcefully made the case this past June for “these heroic first responders [who] have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and continue to be deliberately targeted by the Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes.” She also paid solemn tribute to the “more than 230 of these brave volunteers [who] have been killed while working to save innocent Syrian civilians.”
The ability to convey American values with courage and conviction on the floor of the UN is the most important qualification for America’s ambassador. Adlai Stevenson is best remembered for his bold confrontation with the Soviet ambassador at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, during which he declared his adversary to be standing “in the courtroom of world opinion.” Patrick Moynihan is best remembered for his heroic defense of the State of Israel in a speech where he railed against the “Zionism is racism” resolution of 1975. And Haley will be remembered in UN lore as the mighty protector of a small and righteous American ally whom the amoral body bullied and picked on for decades.
Nauert, no doubt, will follow in the path of her distinguished predecessors, serving as a voice of the oppressed and an American hammer against tyranny. She will, I predict, be a worthy successor to Haley and distinguish herself in her own steely way.The writer, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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