With our nation still reeling from the insurrection in our nation’s capital, struggling to move past the divisiveness that threatens to tear apart the fabric of our democratic society and contending with a pandemic, all eyes are on Joe Biden as he enters the Oval Office after nearly 50 years in public service.
As he works to unify our nation, Biden will find himself facing some skeptics in the Jewish community. There are many American Jews who believe our new president has big shoes to fill and question whether he is capable of doing so.
The fact is, former President Donald Trump engendered tremendous support in pockets of the Jewish community because of his actions relative to Israel.
For many pro-Israel voters, Trump was a dream come true. Whether it was facilitating the normalization of ties between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the embassy to Jerusalem, proclaiming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights or freezing aid to the Palestinian Authority because of the remuneration it makes to families of terrorists, Trump undoubtedly claimed iconic status in the eyes of numerous individuals who view the U.S.-Israel relationship as paramount.
However, let us not forget that Biden has a lengthy track record when it comes to the American Jewish community and strengthening the bond between the United States and its sole democratic ally in the Middle East. Joe Biden has been outspoken regarding the need to combat anti-Semitism, further enhance the U.S.-Israel relationship and preserve Jewish values in the United States. He is a steadfast supporter of Israel, not just through his words, but through his actions as well.
It was during his time as vice president that the administration entered into a historic 10-year memorandum of understanding which pledged a record $38 billion for Israel’s security. Biden also played a role in bolstering Israel’s missile defense system, including the lifesaving Iron Dome and he strongly opposes the BDS movement, which attempts to delegitimize Israel. During the Democratic primary, Biden set himself apart from some other candidates when he said that placing conditions on aid to Israel would be a “gigantic mistake” and “absolutely outrageous.”
As president, Biden will work to ensure that the United States remains committed to Israel’s security and its ability to maintain the qualitative military edge that is essential to its survival, and will call on the Palestinian Authority to condemn terrorism, curb incitement and cease its despicable “pay to slay” program.
At a time when there are Democratic members of Congress who unabashedly criticize Israel and far too many discordant voices in the Democratic Party concerning the U.S.-Israel relationship, it is critical that American Jewry and the pro-Israel community have a stalwart supporter like Biden leading his party. American support for Israel must remain bipartisan in order to be sustainable, and Biden has the ability and opportunity to be the champion we need.
The domestic issues facing Biden are important and indisputably require his immediate attention. However, he must make certain that the U.S.-Israel relationship, the frightening rise in anti-Semitism and the ongoing efforts to delegitimize Israel are not put on the back burner.
If history is our guide and his past performance is any indication, Biden will not allow these issues to fester, even as he addresses other pressing matters.
Biden can and will be a partner for the American Jewish community and the state of Israel. Although there will inevitably be areas of disagreement, it is imperative that we “listen to one another” and “show respect for another,” as the president pronounced in his inaugural address.
As he spoke to the nation moments after taking the oath of office, Biden quoted from Psalms when he said, “weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.” Regardless of who you voted for on Election Day, it is unquestionably the beginning of a new dawn in America and the sun is rising on a new day for our nation. Whereas “joy cometh in the morning,” I believe that when it comes to U.S.-Israel ties, this new day ought to bring with it a sense of optimism for what tomorrow holds in store.
The United States’ strategic relationship with Israel is replete with military, security and technological collaboration. It is a longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership, and it is vital that it prevails with bipartisan support. The American Jewish community should be united in the hope that when it comes to issues pertaining to Israel, Biden will be the leader we know he can be and pray he will be. JN
N. Aaron Troodler is the principal of Red Apple Strategies LLC, a public relations and strategic communications firm, and has extensive experience in the Jewish non-profit world.