OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Why US Jews must interfere in the Israeli election

Israelis need to be told that the U.S. peace plan must be implemented immediately to ensure Israel’s future, and that this is not the time for a dangerous change in Israeli leadership.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House unveiling details of the Middle East peace plan, Jan. 28, 2020. White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House unveiling details of the Middle East peace plan, Jan. 28, 2020. White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
Martin Oliner
Martin Oliner
Martin Oliner is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity, president of the Culture for Peace Institute and a committee member of the Jewish Agency. He was appointed by former U.S. president Donald Trump and serves as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The views expressed are his own. Martinoliner@gmail.com

There are two adages that have been sacrosanct for decades when it comes to decisions about Israel’s future. One is that such decisions must be made by Israel’s democratically elected government alone, and that American Jews who do not live in the Jewish state must keep their opinions about Israeli politics to themselves. The other is that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

It may be controversial to say this, but at this fateful juncture for Israel’s future, neither of these adages apply.

As someone who has advocated for Israel for decades and prayed for the Jewish state three times a day since its establishment, I cannot be silent, and neither should other Jewish leaders who understand the importance of the present moment in history.

I was privileged to be present in the White House when U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan, which is appropriately called both “Peace to Prosperity” and the “deal of the century.” Hearing the details of the plan firsthand, I was extremely impressed by the hard work and in-depth research that went into it.

This plan would safeguard Israel’s future and ensure its existence amid the security threats to the Jewish state that will never end. Maintaining Israeli security—a challenge in previous plans proposed by previous American administrations—would no longer be an issue because the Israel Defense Forces would maintain security control, and protect both Israel and the entrances to where the Palestinians would continue to live.

As soon as the required maps are prepared, the plan allows Israel to immediately start applying Israeli law to the lands where the Jews of Judea and Samaria live now and where our forefathers and mothers lived before.

Palestinian and European leaders, as well as Democratic Party presidential candidates in the United States, have criticized the plan, as was expected. It is not their opposition that could prevent the plan from getting carried out.

Amazingly, the plan is in danger of being held up and perhaps never even being implemented at all not because of any of them, but because of the voters in Israel’s fateful March 2 election.

Israelis must be told that this plan must be implemented immediately to ensure Israel’s future, and it needs an experienced leader who has built a fruitful relationship with Trump. This is not the time for a dangerous change in Israeli leadership.

Israel needs the best leader possible at this critical moment, and no one has more experience than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After Trump’s peace deal is implemented, there will be less need to have a monumental prime minister like him in place, and it will then be safer to take the risk of electing a new leader.

This is not the time to initiate unnecessary negotiations with the Palestinians or wait for the support of the international community that will never come. This is the time to draw the maps of Israel’s borders and start implementing the plan the moment the maps are ready, regardless of Israeli politics.

Waiting for a government to be formed in Israel to implement the plan would be a huge mistake, because there could be a fourth or even a fifth Israeli election. Trump waited patiently during the first two Israeli elections, but there is no guarantee that he will win a second term in office, so there is no time to waste.

The Netanyahu-Trump era must be exploited to the fullest because we don’t know who the next Israeli prime minister will be, who the next U.S. president will be, or the makeup of the next Congress. Listening to how uneducated some of the Democratic presidential candidates are on Israel reinforces the urgency of the moment.

Religious Zionists in America have a particular responsibility to ensure that the plan gets implemented because it would not have happened without us.

Religious Zionists have thankfully overcome—or at least balanced out—the left wing that may return to positions of influence in the future, both in the United States and in Israel when Netanyahu is no longer in power. While religious Zionists will always be the backbone among Israel’s supporters in the United States, it is questionable whether self-proclaimed progressive American Jews and their children can be counted on to support Israel two decades from now.

The plan is currently bilateral between the United States and Israel, though American leaders have said they hope that the Palestinians will join it in the future. That gives Americans and Israelis equal footing in ensuring that it gets shepherded towards implementation as soon as possible.

Not only can American Jewish leaders speak, but we also have an obligation to make our voices heard by Israelis as they go to vote. We must tell Israelis that waiting too long could result in Israel missing the ultimate opportunity: the opportunity of the century.

Missing this opportunity would be a tragedy that would be added to the long list of too many tragedies the Jewish people have endured throughout our history.

Martin Oliner is co-president of the Religious Zionists of America and chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity, and serves as a committee member of the Jewish Agency. 

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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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