Opinion editor Logan Heller faces off against Aaron Arnstein about which 2020 presidential candidate is best for Israel.
Rationalism vs. Radicalism: Why a Biden White House is Desperately Needed (Logan Heller)
Joseph Biden Sr. introduced the idea of a Jewish homeland to young Joe during dinner conversations in 1948. These talks surrounding the necessity of the Jewish homeland ingrained in the young boy the uncompromising fundamental values that Israel offered the Jewish people. Since then, Biden has continued furthering U.S.-Israel relations. During Israeli times of need, Biden stepped forward. Despite hailing from a state with a small Jewish population of 15,000, Biden made a point of taking his first few overseas trips to Israel just prior to the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
During the Obama White House years, Biden personally advocated on Capitol Hill for support of the Iran Nuclear Deal, which at the time was a remarkable international effort to curtail Iran’s desire for nuclear equipment. Although the Iran Deal had been heavily criticized for failing to prevent Iran from developing its ballistic missile program further and provide funds for terrorist networks, it is critical to note that the Iran Deal never intended to address those issues. Lamenting such factors is simply a tired tactic of the deal’s opponents who prioritize perfection over what is possible.
Others have denounced Biden due to the White House’s refusal to veto the controversial United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 that condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank. While the move could be seen as helping to legitimize claims made by Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Mahmoud Abbas regarding the legality of settlement building, many within the Biden camp have made clear that Biden himself did not play a role in this policy creation. With this added factor, it is unfair to hold Biden personally responsible for the move directed by then-president Obama.
The latest accusation that Biden detractors have been making is that the Democratic Party, which has nominated him as their presidential candidate, is deeply opposed to Israel. This claim is entirely contingent on the ultra-left wing caucus that has expressed harmful views varying from tone-deaf at best to blatantly antisemitic at worst, with the likes of House Members Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib holding critical leadership positions with the ability to transform the longstanding party platform. Given that these individuals’ powers are often found almost entirely in media coverage rather than in many positions with the Democratic National Committee leadership, these claims are often exaggerated to fit a political agenda for Democratic opponents. It is a stretch to argue that the views of so few represent a massive, national party with many critical leaders expressing only staunch support for the state of Israel.
The Trump White House, absent Biden’s influence, quickly deteriorated due to President Trump prioritizing rhetoric over realpolitik, allowing rushed decisions with radical consequences in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Trump epitomizes his ineptitude in understanding Israeli issues by his administration moving forward with Trump’s Peace Plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis earlier this year. This plan fell short almost immediately, with the PLO accusing Washington of acting as a biased mediator. It is rather curious that Trump failed to serve as a proper mediator, given all of his experience in previous legal disputes that involved mediators over arbitration ranging from sexual assault allegations to Federal housing discrimination cases. This is critical because the more disenfranchised the PLO feels, the greater the incentive for this political group to unite with the terrorist organization Hamas. Hamas is both committed to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis and has the capacity to do so. Instead of peace, Trump has created a new pathway for Hamas and the PLO to hold talks as a direct response to these failed talks. While Trump is not alone in struggling to address one of the most complex issues in the Middle East, he is solely responsible for the unprecedented collapse of Palestinian-U.S. relations that is a basic prerequisite to any viable future, peace talks.
Trump has struggled with creating peace, and judging its costs, in the Middle East. The unintended consequences of diplomatic engagement regarding Trump’s highly touted peace deals between Israel, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates are very dear to the president. They are also the key to the demise of long term American foreign policy in the Middle East.
The Trump White House argues that engagement between Israel and regional Arab nations is critical to promoting Israel’s long-term stability. While there is some overall merit in the U.S being engaged in Israeli affairs, it is essential to examine which bargaining chips are being spent on these endeavors. Trump justified the UAE deal for Israel by arguing that the alliance cemented a united front against Iran; however, he failed to consider the long term cost: Israel losing its regional air superiority, which it has enjoyed for decades. This is the case because America granted permission to begin exporting the stealth fighter F-35 to the UAE. Now that both Israel and the UAE have access to the F-35, Israeli air superiority, arguably one of the most critical components to Israel’s national security, has been lost.
For Sudan to recognize Israel, Trump gave the go-ahead to remove Sudan from the State Department’s State Sponsor of Terrorism list, despite Sudan still actively relying on terroristic tactics to execute its foreign policy. Trump foolishly set the precedent of press headlines being worth Israel losing its air superiority and nations not being held accountable for sponsoring terrorism.
On the other hand, Biden is a staunch supporter of diplomatic engagement, but on America’s terms. He is a true believer in realpolitik. Trump, based on these far too generous concessions, clearly is not. A vote for Biden is a vote for a stronger, safer, and more secure Israel.
Why President Trump is Israel’s Choice on Nov. 3 (Aaron Arnstein)
How often does nearly an entire nation back the President of the United States?
However, one of America’s tight-knit allies, Israel, has expressed overwhelming levels of support for President Trump in recent years.
From exiting the Iran Nuclear Deal, to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, President Trump has established a strong relationship with Israel and its people.
Supporting Israel has long been a major policy priority for Jewish Americans. According to the Jerusalem Post, 80% of American Jews consider themselves as holding “pro-Israel” views. Jewish Americans are a crucial demographic in the election due to their high voter turnout and many of them holding residence in swing states like Florida and Ohio.
The numbers further corroborate the powerful relationship between the U.S. and Israel: According to the Jerusalem Post, a mid-October poll published by i24News conducted by the Direct Falls Research Institute found that 63.3% of Israelis preferred the re-election of the incumbent in 2020, while 18.8% favored former vice president and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. For comparison, under the Obama Administration, The Times of Israel found that only 19% of Israelis strongly approved of former President Barack Obama.
There are three crowning achievements of the Trump administration in relation to Israel during the past four years, suggesting Trump is the more favorable candidate for Israel than former vice president Biden.
The first occurred in early May 2018, when President Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal, marking what he called the end of “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, was agreed upon in 2015 under the Obama Administration between Iran and a group of world powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany. The deal removed economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on the country’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. America and the international community believed that Iranian nuclear weapons would threaten Israel, destabilize the region, and present a global security risk. However, Iran experienced an economic windfall shortly thereafter and used some of the money towards the funding of anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas, according to CNN. Additionally, Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria received nearly $15 billion in aid from Tehran in 2015 alone, while Iran continues to dole out $700 million to Hezbollah each year. Iran remains committed to developing its ballistic missile program. For example, in 2019 Iran broke a key agreement in the JCPOA in announcing they had exceeded their allowed limit of low-enriched uranium.
Iran has made it no secret that they are enemies of the Jewish state, and Israel has been in constant fear of a potential Iranian nuclear strike for many years. In 2019, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the elimination of the State of Israel, and Iran has refused to recognize Israel’s sovereignty since its Islamic Revolution in 1979. By pulling out of the agreement, President Trump was able to reenact sanctions, dealing a blow to the Islamic republic’s economy by targeting its main economic lifeline of oil exports. Iran has since left the nuclear deal as well. This has made it harder for Iran to potentially develop nuclear weapons, thus decreasing the possibility of a possible nuclear strike on Israel.
One week after stepping out of the nuclear deal, Trump announced he would be moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a historic although controversial move. Its fellow Western powers feared a massive Palestinian uprising that could potentially lead to a Fourth Intifada, but to the surprise of many, the Palestinians stayed quiet. The move further cemented Israelis’ belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
As expected, President Trump was overwhelmingly praised by Jewish Israelis over both of these moves. According to Brookings, a University of Maryland poll showed that 73% of Israelis supported the embassy’s move and its timing. This further strengthened the president’s reputation for the unwavering support of Israel.
The president’s most recent accomplishment made in the best interests of Israel has been a series of peace treaties, with multiple more on the way, between Israel and Middle Eastern countries. In mid-September of this year, President Trump brokered a peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (the first such agreement between Israel and a major Arab country since 1994), and did the same with Bahrain. An additional peace agreement was made between Israel and Sudan, which was also orchestrated by Trump.
The president helped these Arab nations and Israel find a common enemy in Iran, which has helped build ties between Israel and the Middle East. The normalization of relations will accelerate economic opportunities throughout not only Israel, but the entire region.
Despite an American’s political affiliation, it is hard to argue against President Trump’s commitment to a pro-Israel policy agenda during his time in the Oval Office.
From day one, the president set his sights on several key issues involving the Jewish State. While many deemed his goals too ambitious, he followed through with his word.
The United States remains a crucial ally to Israel in its fight for existence. Without the actions of President Trump, the Middle Eastern landscape may look a whole lot different.
Through much of the uncertainty during this election season, one thing is certain: President Trump has Israel’s back.