Biden’s election reminds us of what is really good for the Jews. Israel has an interest in the United States continuing to be the leader of the free world — democratic, egalitarian and not racist, committed to a stable world order and to peace. That is what is really good for the Jews, for Israel and for the world.
It will soon be 25 years since the Israeli elections of 1996. The Australian millionaire Joseph Gutnik, a Hasidic rabbi, came up with the election slogan, “Netanyahu. It’s good for the Jews.” Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister and since then the concept of “good for the Jews” has become a kind of litmus test and official stamp of approval for measuring leaders both in Israel and the world; a first step for many Israelis according to which they measure their foreign affairs and their internal policy.
A few days ago, Yoram Dori wrote in this publication that he is convinced the composition of the Democratic Party and the conciliatory personality of the new president will lead to a decrease in the level of hate crimes against Jews and will quickly prove that “Biden is good for the Jews.”
The departing president, Donald Trump, was also assessed this way. Among the right in Israel, there is a widespread belief that there has never been such a friendly president in the White House as Trump, and for this reason, he deserves gratitude.
There is no need to rejoice at Trump’s misfortune, but the period of his administration was difficult and severely damaging. It will take years for the United States to recover from four years of one of the most childish, narcissistic leaders ever to sit in the White House. A leader who continuously undermined the democratic foundations of the American form of government.
Many in Israel were willing to shut their eyes, block their ears and evaluate his actions only from one point of view — is he good for the Jews or not— and to hell with his lies, the provocation and the division that he cultivated with his foolish talk and tongue lashings to anyone who did not support him, not to speak of the reports of tax evasion and unsettling testimony connected to his relationships with women. Trump is tainted with racism, he is a racist in the full sense of the word, and cannot be a good leader. Period. On this topic, for Jews who have suffered throughout all of history from racism, there should be no confusion.
You could talk about the nature of the symbolic gifts that Trump heaped on Netanyahu — moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights, and the declaration that settlements in the areas of Judah and Samaria do not violate international law — and see that they did not really change Israel’s situation very much.
On the other hand, the agreements with Arab countries late in Trump’s administration, which brought to light relationships that were already in existence, were praiseworthy, but don’t forget that they were not reached without cost. Netanyahu was forced to shelve the dream of annexation despite his clear promises, and tacitly agreed (in the beginning he denied it and did not share it with his security network, according to senior advisers) to the deal of F-35 jets that the United Arab Emirates had wanted for years. Who knows what other elements of the Middle East arms race were included in exchange for the agreements that Netanyahu insists on calling “Peace for Peace.”
Personal friendship, tributes and gifts in “another league,” as Netanyahu likes to boast, cannot alone serve as a basis for relationships between countries. Neither can flattery. Relationships between countries are based on common values and interests. Personal friendship between leaders is a bonus, but no more. The Barack Obama administration gave Israel more security assistance and hard cash than the Trump administration did. We will see whether the departure of the United States from the nuclear agreement with Iran accelerated its nuclear program. We will see whether Trump’s alienation of the Palestinians will damage Israel’s interests, and what the price of the rift between the prime minister and the Democratic Party will be.
Netanyahu waited 12 hours to acknowledge Trump’s defeat. Dragging his feet, he subsequently sent a message to president-elect Joe Biden: “I would like to start with congratulations for @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. I have a long and warm personal connection with Joe Biden for nearly 40 years, and I know him as a great friend of the State of Israel. I am certain that we will continue to work with both of them in order to further strengthen the special alliance between Israel and the United States.”
Netanyahu’s priorities are clear: personal relationships first, and international relationships second. It doesn’t matter who sits in the White House, a continuation of good connections with the United States depends on the continuation of Netanyahu. Without him we have no existence.
It is in Israel’s interest that the United States continues to be the leader of the free world: democratic, egalitarian and not racist, committed to a stable world order and to peace. Only this will be good for the Jews, good for Israel and good for the world.
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