America is Israel's most strategic partner, particularly when it comes to security issues, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told a panel discussion at The Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem’s conference yesterday.
“On security matters, Israel and the US are lock-step,” Nides said during an exchange with his predecessor, David Friedman, moderated by Post Editor-in-Chief Avi Mayer.
“We’re the most important friend of Israel and Israel is the most important friend of the US,” Nides emphasized at the "Celebrate the Faces of Israel" conference.
“It’s like any great relationship. We have to keep working it and nurturing it and when we have problems we have to work it through, but I am confident that the relationship is strong and enduring,” the ambassador said.
“We’re the most important friend of Israel and Israel is the most important friend of the US.”Ambassador Tom Nides
He spoke as Jerusalem and Washington are experiencing a deep dispute over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform.
But on the conference stage, the two ambassadors projected bipartisan unity when it comes to Israel, security and antisemitism.
The envoys had just returned from a trip to Poland with the March of the Living. “It was one of the most meaningful things I have ever done,” said Nides, as he thanked Friedman for proposing the idea.
US-Brokered Abraham Accords are a success
The trip, Friedman said, showed that “people with very different views can still like each other and have civilized discussions.”
Friedman said that the 2020 US-brokered Abraham Accords normalizing ties with four Arab countries is proof that allies could disagree and still move forward on substantive matters.
“We can’t let the perfect get in the way of the possible,” said Friedman, noting that this is the reason he gets along well with Nides, who has exactly the same approach and looks to see what problems he can solve rather than the ones that get in the way.
The US-Israel relationship is “rock-solid,” Friedman said, adding that there is a “deep affection, respect, [and] trust between our two countries in terms of keeping each other safe, ourselves safe and keeping the world safe. That is not going anywhere and I do not see that as being at risk at all.
“The American people love Israel,” he declared. This is true, even though “the winds of politics change all the time,” Friedman said, adding that, despite this, “the relationship has endured. There is nothing in the friction that arises from time to time that jeopardizes the relationship.”
Nides said that the US and Israel are like a mishpacha, a family. He has been impressed since arriving by how much US politicians and citizens care about Israel.
On this job, Nides said, “You have to talk to everybody. Regardless, if you agree or disagree, it’s important to hear their perspectives. It just makes you a better person, a better diplomat and a better representative of America.”Friedman said that, between the two of them, one could get a good understanding of the US, given that they bring two very perspectives.
“As Tom says, ‘I’m a liberal, Reform, secular Jew from Duluth, Minnesota,’” Friedman said as he described Nides. Then of himself, he said, “And I’m an Orthodox, right-wing Jew from the Five Towns [of Long Island], and those are different perspectives. Together we help Israel understand America.”