In a poll conducted recently, Israelis indicated their preference for President Trump by an overwhelming 63 percent, demonstrating that even Israelis on the left think Trump is better for Israel. Shouldn’t we trust Israelis to know what’s best for their own country? To think otherwise evinces yet again the paternalism and self-righteousness that plagued the last administration’s US-Israel policy.
In their Oct. 21 opinion piece, “The Jewish state is less secure because Trump has not been Israel’s friend,” Eric Lynn and Dan Shapiro, who served during the Obama administration, tried to persuade pro-Israel voters that Trump’s policies were against the interests of Israel. But the authors gloss over how Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, ignore his recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strategically critical Golan Heights and contend that ending the Iran deal made Israel less secure — a position at odds with Israel’s own security establishment. They claim that the US has compromised Israeli intelligence and jeopardized the country’s military edge in brokering a once-in-a-generation peace deal with the United Arab Emirates.
None of that has any validity.
The president’s recognition of Jerusalem — a promise many presidents made but only Trump kept — finally put America in compliance with a 25-year-old act of Congress and honored a 2,000-year-old quest of the Jewish people for international acceptance of the heart of their ancient homeland. His recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan removed a 52-year cloud over Israel’s right to territory without which it would never be secure.
Trump’s maximum pressure on Iran has made it weaker and less dangerous. The authors endorsed and helped implement a terrible deal in which Iran became wealthy and on a path to a nuclear weapon. Despite bestowing upon Iran unimaginable benefits and piles of cash, they never demanded that Iran curtail any of its malign activity in Yemen, Iraq, Syria or Lebanon and, of course, Iran did not. That such activity continues to this day is the fault of the prior administration, not the president.
But Iranian-sponsored activity against Israel has been diminished, partly because of Iran’s dire finances resulting from America’s crippling sanctions, and partly because of unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation between Israel, our cherished ally, and the United States. The president has put Iran, the world’s most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism, on an irreversible path to defeat — unless a different occupant of the Oval Office reverses his policies.
The authors also failed to mention the United Nations, a hotbed of anti-Israel behavior. The Obama administration permitted passage of the outrageous Security Council Resolution 2334, which deemed even the Western Wall to be illegally occupied territory. The Trump administration has stood with Israel at the U.N. like none before it.
Finally, while begrudgingly acknowledging the benefits of the peace agreements between Israel and UAE and Bahrain — and let’s remember the latest achievement, peace with Sudan, birthplace of, “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel — the authors argue that Israel paid a high price in sacrificing its military edge. There is no evidence for this. Indeed, recently, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz met in Washington and jointly proclaimed that Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge was stronger than ever. Do we think that Israel, a state that has been under constant threat from the moment of its formation, would be silly enough to give up such an important policy, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?
From peace deals with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan (with more to come, it is hoped), to an unprecedented Vision for Peace with the Palestinians that protects Israel’s key strategic and security interests and gives the Palestinians, if they negotiate and act in a realistic, good-faith manner, the opportunity for an incredible future, to recognizing Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel and moving the United States embassy to Jerusalem, to an unqualified commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself by itself, and to exposing many of the distortions and myths of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict, President Trump has been Israel’s best friend ever to occupy the White House.
Some policy issues in this election are subject to reasonable debate. This one is not.
Jason D. Greenblatt was the White House’s Middle East envoy for nearly three years.