One central theme emerged from Monday’s Jerusalem Post Conference at Gotham Hall in New York City: the robust US-Israel relationship that has endured despite changes of administrations and election campaigns in both countries, as well as the ongoing differences over the Iran nuclear deal and other issues.
Speaker after speaker lauded what US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides called “the unbreakable tie” between Israel and the United States.
“My North Star is maintaining a democratic Jewish state,” said Nides. “That is the single most important thing I believe that I can do as an American ambassador. And to do that, we have to send a message of the important, unbreakable security alliance between the United States and Israel, and the importance of making sure everyone understands this relationship with the United States, between the IDF and the Defense Department and our security industries.”
“My North Star is maintaining a democratic Jewish state. That is the single most important thing I believe that I can do as an American ambassador.Tom Nides
The ambassador downplayed the recent dispute between the two countries over the US calling on Israel to review its rules of engagement, following the IDF’s announcement that Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was probably killed unintentionally by an Israeli soldier. “Israel is a sovereign country and will make their own decisions,” he stated.
Fighting antisemitism online
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, called for a joint Israeli-American effort to combat the spread of antisemitism, especially on social media platforms. “We have to stand together, my friends, united as two countries – and certainly the State of New York with Israel – to identify the people who are perpetrating these (hate) messages before it does any further damage.”
Congressman Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for New York governor, said in an interview with Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz, “The US’s strongest ally in the world is Israel, a beacon of hope and freedom in the darkest region in the world. We should be doing everything to strengthen that bond. One of them is calling out the Palestinian Authority at every opportunity. We cannot be silent. We as a nation must be proudly and unapologetically defending the strongest and most powerful alliance we have on the planet.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey), who last month led a bipartisan group of 50 lawmakers – 34 Democrats and 16 Republicans – to raise their “deep concerns” with the administration over a new Iran deal, told Post reporter Zvika Klein: “Every time it looks like the deal could go forward, a bunch of us would say, ‘Hold on a second. First you should come to Congress.’”
“The US’s strongest ally in the world is Israel, a beacon of hope and freedom in the darkest region in the world. We should be doing everything to strengthen that bond.Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Mira Resnick assured JPost.com’s editor, Tamar Uriel-Be’eri, that the US is committed to Israel’s security, pointing to the $3.8 billion allocated annually in military aid approved by the Obama administration, as well as an additional billion dollars for Iron Dome replenishment approved by US President Joe Biden last year.
“We want to make sure that we make good on our unshakable commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge,” she said. “That is our law, that is our policy, that is our moral obligation.”
It was fitting that Jay and Shira Ruderman, whose Ruderman Family Foundation funds the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at Haifa University that they established in 2012, were presented with the Jerusalem Post Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022, both for their advocacy for the inclusion of people with disabilities and for strengthening US-Israel ties.
“The US-Israel relationship for Israelis was not a sexy or an important issue 20 years ago, and today people pay more attention,” said Shira Ruderman.
Israel’s consul-general in New York, Asaf Zamir, said that his top strategic goal is “to build or rebuild the connection between the younger generation of Americans and Israelis... to a point that they will understand the shared values and history, and will continue strengthening this relationship in the future.”
Ultimately, Israel and the US are bound to have differences, but as we’ve seen with the current discussions regarding the Iran nuclear deal, they are conducted with the mutual respect and trust that comes with a longstanding partnership. Israel will always have to take care of itself, but maintaining a close bipartisan relationship with the US must be a top priority.