US and Israeli Jews divided on life-and-death issues

It is in the field of foreign relations that Jewish backing of a Joe Biden presidency bodes particularly ill.

President-elect Joe Biden. Source: Facebook/Joe Biden Campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden. Source: Facebook/Joe Biden Campaign.
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project.

The policy preferences of much of American Jewy seem even more paradoxically perverse, as they undeniably lend support to political regimes that comprise the diametric opposite of the enlightened liberal values they purport to cherish.

The dichotomy over the U.S. elections between Jews in America and Jews in Israel is stark and startling. While more than 70 percent of U.S. Jews supported the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, almost 70 percent of Israeli Jews prefer the GOP incumbent, Donald Trump.

It is, of course, not hard to understand the Israeli position.

After all, despite Trump’s sometimes unendearing personal demeanor, he has produced a long list of highly favorable policy decisions for Israel that began to fundamentally change the Middle East and the basic parameters of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

They include recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; moving the U.S. embassy to the city; defunding URWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem; cutting funding to the Palestinian Authority for its payments to terrorists and their families; acknowledging the legality of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria; recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the strategically vital Golan Heights; and pulling out of the perilously defective Iran nuclear deal, and then imposing harsh sanctions on Tehran’s tyrannical theocracy and driving its faltering economy to the brink of collapse.

On the other hand, fathoming U.S. Jewry animus to Trump is considerably more difficult. Indeed, putting aside for the moment Trump’s robust support for their kinfolk in the Jewish nation-state, one might have reasonably expected that many domestic policy initiatives launched by Trump would have been eagerly embraced by much of the American Jewish community, which traditionally subscribes to left-leaning liberal political views.

‘Palestinians, desperate for a Biden victory … ’

After all, Trump introduced prison reform and brought unemployment lower for minorities. Likewise, he appointed the first woman ever to head the CIA and the second woman ever as Secretary of Homeland Security. Despite fierce opposition from large drug manufacturers, he has pushed for lower prices for prescription drugs, signing several executive orders towards this goal. All of these should have militated to drawing greater support from the wider Jewish electorate.

Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of U.S. Jews chose to adhere to their almost Pavlovian, anti-GOP knee-jerk reaction.

But it is in the field of foreign relations that U.S. Jewish backing of a Biden presidency bodes particularly ill.

For while the Trump administration was prepared to confront Israel’s principal enemies with firm resolve, it appears that a Biden administration leans towards charting a course that would be far more considerate of Israel’s foes—and far more compliant in meeting their demands.

Indeed, one election day headline proclaimed “Palestinians, desperate for a Biden victory, hold their breath as America votes.”

In a similar vein, The New York Times wrote: “The Palestinians are counting on a Trump defeat. … They don’t even want to think about Plan B. … Isolated diplomatically and running out of money … the Palestinians are … more desperate than ever for a change in Washington.”

Iran: Biden the ‘more promising’ candidate

Thus, Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas, declared: “He has been the worst American president as far as our cause is concerned. … The most important thing as far as we are concerned is that Trump goes,” while P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh made the point even more bluntly: “If we are going to live another four years with President Trump, God help us … .”

Likewise, the ayatollahs in Iran harbor a strong preference for Biden. In a piece headlined “Why Iran sees Biden as the ‘more promising’ candidate in the U.S. election,” CBS News conveyed: “Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has indicated to CBS News that the Islamic Republic’s leadership would prefer Joe Biden win the U.S. election … .”

Bloomberg news echoed a similar assessment: “Joe Biden … has signaled he’ll seek to bring Iran back into the 2015 nuclear accord the U.S. brokered … under Barack Obama. That means the economic sanctions President Donald Trump imposed—and tightened further this week—could eventually be eased … .”

The Abraham Accords

A Biden administration would be likely to gravely undermine the emerging Trump-brokered peace/normalization process between Israel and several Arab countries such as the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

According to a recent paper by a leading Israeli strategic studies center: “Joe Biden’s intended policies for the Middle East would completely undermine any existing potential for progress toward normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. It would be stopped dead in its tracks. This is because Biden and his advisors have stated unambiguously that they intend to reverse all the … aspects of current U.S. Middle East policy—in other words, all the policies that allowed the Abraham Accords to come to fruition.”

These matters—Iran’s nuclear program, the conflict with the Palestinians and peace with the wider Arab world—are all life-and-death issues for Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Yet not only do their kinfolk in America seem largely indifferent to them, they seem stubbornly bent on support for a candidate committed to policies benignly accommodating to Israel’s mortal enemies.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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