Blinken is ‘a friend of Israel,’ ex-officials say

“I think he's worth investing time in and I think he can be a very positive influence.”

US Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken speaks on Syria at the White House in Washington. September 9, 2013. (photo credit: REUTERS)
US Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken speaks on Syria at the White House in Washington. September 9, 2013.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Israeli officials who had worked with US President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, had overwhelmingly positive things to say about him.
Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the US, called Blinken “a great diplomat and true friend of Israel.”
“I had the honor and pleasure of working with him for years in Washington and know him to be brave and clear-sighted statesman,” Oren tweeted. “I can think of no finer choice.”
Blinken was National Security Advisor to Biden when he was vice president from 2009-2013, then Deputy National Security Advisor to former president Barack Obama and then Deputy Secretary of State. He also was the foreign policy adviser to Biden’s 2020 campaign. Blinken is Jewish and his stepfather was a Holocaust survivor.
Former Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold visited the State Department in 2016, which included a meeting with Blinken.
Gold said he was “impressed with him and found him to be very professional and a good listener.
“I didn’t detect any kind of anti-Israel undertone. To the contrary, he was very open,” Gold added. “The meeting was an eye-opener. We saw he was a really good guy.”
Blinken’s attitude towards Israel was contrary to some officials in the Obama administration who were “simply difficult,” Gold said.
“I think he’s worth investing time in and I think he can be a very positive influence,” Gold added.
Blinken tweeted after their 2016 meeting: “In face of unprecedented regional threats, affirmed ironclad support for [Israeli] security with Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold.”
Months after Gold’s meeting with Blinken in Washington, there was a US-Israel strategic dialogue in Jerusalem, with Gold and former national security advisor Jacob Nagel leading the Israeli side.
Nagel said he thinks Blinken is an “excellent appointment.”
“I was impressed by his fairness,” Nagel said.
Rabbi Tovia Singer, who served as the head rabbi of Indonesia’s Jewish community from 2014 to 2019, related that Blinken once held up a diplomatic flight from Jakarta back to Washington DC because he was busy participating in a communal Passover Seder in the Indonesian capital.
Singer said that Blinken was in Jakarta during a formal visit as US deputy secretary of state in 2016 and told his hosts that it was important for him to be able to participate in a Passover Seder since the Passover holiday coincided with the trip.
Blinken was only supposed to have stayed a short while at the Seder before his return flight to the US, but was so engaged in the festivities that he delayed the diplomatic flight by several hours in order to remain at the Seder.
Singer said that Blinken expressed “admiration and support” for Israel, and was very interested in what could be done to foster better relations and possible future diplomatic relations between Israel and Indonesia.
The then deputy secretary of state also inquired of Singer how Jews were treated in Indonesia, and whether they were able to openly practice Judaism.
And Blinken actually brought box-loads of matzah and other Passover accouterments for the Indonesian Jewish community for the holiday on his diplomatic flight, since some of these items were not available en masse in the Muslim-majority country.
“He’s an amazing pick for Israel and a really impressive individual,” said Singer of Blinken.
Former US national security advisor Susan Rice, who was reported to be someone else Biden considered for the post of secretary of state, wrote that she recalled 25 years working with him as a colleague and said he would make an excellent secretary of state. “Competence, decency, strength and respect,” were the words she used.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, praised Blinken, and Michele Flournoy, Biden’s likely pick for secretary of defense, as a “superb national security team. The country will be very fortunate to have them in public service.”
Jason Horowitz, who wrote a profile of the pick at The Washington Post, called Blinken the most cosmopolitan man in Washington. He noted that Blinken also has a background in film and hosted American film director and producer Spike Lee in Paris.
US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib seemed to be the highest profile Democrat critical of Blinken, criticizing him for not speaking out against Israel.