Special Report – US Election: ‘Israel is neither a blue nor red state’
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

Special Report – US Election: ‘Israel is neither a blue nor red state’

Whether Trump or Biden, analysts in Jerusalem say the president’s record on Israel matters more than their party.

Stephen Oryszczuk

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Joe Biden and Donald Trump

Foreign policy experts in Israel this week eyed Tuesday’s US presidential election, considering what any new-look White House might mean for the Jewish state.

Donald Trump is widely seen as the most pro-Israel president in US history, having cut funding and ties to the Palestinians, moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognised territory taken in war as Israeli.

However, for others his lack of progress on the peace process has given him a tarnished legacy, while others see Israel’s thawing relations with Gulf states as likely to continue regardless of who is in the White House.

Polling suggests that American Jews are still more likely to vote for Democratic challenger Joe Biden than Republican, but president of the Israel Democracy Institute Yohanan Plesner said: “Israel is neither a blue state nor a red state.”

A defaced Biden-Harris sign is spray-painted with the word “Trump” near Centre Hall, Pennsylvania on October 24, 2020. (Photo by Paul Weaver/Sipa USA)

On voting preferences, he said: “While Israelis genuinely appreciate the values they share with the American people, their relationships with US presidents have often been based on their perceived commitment to the US–Israel alliance.

“When a US president displays a credible commitment to Israel’s security, Israelis usually make what they perceive to be the safer choice and support the incumbent, as with Bill Clinton in the 1990s and George W Bush in the early 2000s.

“In 2016 this was taken a step further – most Israelis preferred Hillary Clinton over the lesser-known Donald Trump, thanks largely to the positive track record of her husband, who was admired here for respecting Israel’s security interests.”

Richard Pater, chief executive of UK-Israel think-tank, said any Biden administration was likely to be “less obsessive about Israeli concessions and in forging Israeli-Palestinian ties… unlike President [Barack] Obama. “Biden has already stated he would not relocate the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, so at least part of the Trump legacy will remain in place.”

Richard Pater with President Rivlin

Pater said the most significant question of any Biden presidency in relation to Israel would be his approach to Iran, given that he was vice-president when Obama agreed the multilateral nuclear accord.

“He may seek to reopen dialogue,” said Pater. “Israel will be hoping that this is an opportunity to fix some of the missing components [within the deal], particularly the ending of all restrictions – the sunset clause.”

Pater said Trump “deserves credit for pushing the recent peace deals over the line”, adding: “I think there is enough momentum now building between Israel and Gulf countries that it can be sustained independent of the US, though clearly the UAE will still want those [American] F-35 fighter jets.” 

Others were more damning, with Tel Aviv University’s David Freilich saying Trump had “proven himself to be monumentally incompetent, so it behoves any friend of the US, which Israel is, to wish it a competent leader”.

US president Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . Photo by: JINIPIX

Freilich, an adjunct professor specialising in security and diplomacy, said: “Recognising Jerusalem as the capital, recognising the Golan [Heights], these were acts that should have been saved as carrots for Israel in the context of negotiations, but he had no intention of doing anything serious about the peace process.

“Trump did some good things – we owe him for the Bahrain/UAE deals – but he didn’t do much on the Palestinian issue except for the plan, which was a non-starter.”

Former diplomat Nadav Tamir, who now works for the Peres Center, said Biden would be likely to re-engage international allies over Iran, revisit the nuclear accord and aim to empower Iran’s more moderate forces, “which the Trump Administration crushed”, before Iran’s presidential election in June.

Nadav Tamir (Wikipedia/Author רוני ידידיה/ Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0))

He expected Biden to resume US aid to the Palestinian Authority, which Trump eliminated, “thereby restoring an important lever of influence over Palestinian moderates”.

Freilich said the Democrat would probably return to “more realistic proposals” from Israel’s point of view. “But Biden is a true friend of Israel, unlike Trump, who is a true friend of Trump.”

 

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments