The Jewish world welcomed a “new beginning” on Wednesday after Donald Trump ungraciously handed over the White House to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Recent days have offered the horror of a Trump-fuelled insurrection alongside glimmers of hope such as the election of the first ever Jewish senator from Georgia.
Jewish American groups such as J-Street as well as Jewish commentators and journalists all pointed to Biden saying the nation “must confront” white supremacy in his inauguration speech. Several said it “felt significant”.
President Reuven Rivlin wrote to Biden, inviting him back to Jerusalem, after he visited the holy city as Vice-President to Barack Obama.
Saying all the people of Israel “salute you and wish you great success”, he added that “sometimes even the obvious has to be said. The United States of America has no greater friend than the State of Israel”.
He reflected on the Middle East going through “rapid change, much of it positive” saying the Abraham “bring new hope, and I look forward to working with you to help build further bridges, including with our Palestinian neighbours.”
“At the same time we continue to face the rising threat of Iranian aggression and expansionism, as well as rising antisemitism and global terrorism, all of which during the unprecedented global challenge of Covid-19. Only by standing together as allies and as fiends can we face these challenges.”
He invited him back to Israel “as soon as possible” as president.
In November after Biden’s victory was confirmed, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews congratulated him, saying, “after a divisive and tumultuous few years in American and global politics, we hope that he will lead global efforts to tackle coronavirus, strengthen ties with allies like the uK and heal the wounds between different groups in American society”.
“We also hope that he will continue in the strong tradition of bipartisan support for the world’s only Jewish state, the state of Israel, and reverse the rise of antisemitism and racism in America and beyond.”
Just hours earlier, in one of his last official messages, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who wants to run for president in 2024 – said “multiculturalism is not who America is”.
Trump’s departure from the White House, in which he said he would be back “in some form”, drew tears from his daughter Ivanka, whose Jewish husband Jared Kushner has led US efforts to forge new Arab-Israel accords.
Meanwhile the newly elected Jon Ossoff was sworn in on a book of Hebrew scripture once owned by the rabbi who forged the alliance between Black and Jewish Georgians that helped propel Ossoff to his stunning electoral win earlier this month.
Harris was sworn in with her Jewish husband Doug Emhoff at her side, after Lady Gaga sang the national anthem in a black and red ball gown adorned with a giant gold dove near her shoulder.
Hours earlier, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who is Jewish, was trying to reassure American supporters of Israel that the White House would consult Jerusalem before it rejoins a “stronger and longer” Iran nuclear deal.
In a strong rebuke to Trump’s habit of withdrawing from multinational institutions, Blinken said his work “starts with showing up again”, adding: “We are much better off being at the table than we are being outside the room.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said: “We congratulate President Biden. Israel values the unbreakable relationship we have with the United States and we look forward to continuing to develop the strong ties between our countries.
“The issue of a nuclear Iran is the most pressing challenge facing the region today. We hope that the new administration will continue to apply the necessary pressure on the Iranian regime.”