“We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight,” Vice President Pence said to the Knesset on Jan. 22. “We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”
The vice president may have made the greatest declaration of friendship toward Israel by any American politician ever. He had come with a “simple message” – that America stands with Israel. But the speech went further, identifying America’s and Israel’s interests as identical.
Nitpickers and naysayers have attempted to find fault with Vice President Pence’s speech, or some aspect of his trip, but to no avail. He took Israel by storm. The public was rocked by his repeated references to the Bible, the kind of unvarnished religious belief they hadn’t heard since Menachem Begin’s time – itself a problem worth deeper reflection, but not one I’ll delve into here.
On the plus side, it is as if the Obama administration never took place. Its total embrace of the Palestinian Arab narrative, its belief that Israel only exists because of the Holocaust, the humiliations it heaped on Israel, its demands for apologies, its pressure tactics – they all seemed to wash away with this one speech.
Stephen M. Flatow, vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, today writes “The sad truth is that ‘standing with Israel’ was not the policy of the Obama-Biden administration. But it is now, and that’s what matters most.”
Flatow is right up to a point. The fact is that Israel and its supporters can’t rest on their laurels. Diplomat Dennis Ross, in his 2015 book Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama points out the recurring pattern where a pro-Israel president is replaced by one with less-than-warm feelings toward the Jewish State. This appears to happen with such regularity among U.S. administrations that it’s almost a safe bet that Israel can expect hostility down the road.
The best thing Israel can do is to fully embrace the friendliness American shows it now to strengthen its position for the less-friendly days that are sure to come.
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Photo Credit: GPO Israel