American and Israeli politics are more alike than you think

by Leah Rosenberg

Although this is an insightful short video, it is clearly an oversimplification of a complex reality between American & Israeli politics. The United States is indeed a country that is in the midst of some major changes in both the Republican and Democratic party. Israel on the other hand is not in the midst of any major upheavals. As of now, it seems that the Likud party will retain power yet again.

But to say that the Likud party and the Republican party have alot in common is indeed correct. This was felt the most when Mitt Romney ran for President. He and Benjamin Netanyahu once worked at the same consulting firm many decades ago. They probably would have agreed on around 99% of economic issues. And indeed, the Democratic Party in the US is probably more aligned with the more left-wing parties in Israel today.

A Mixed History – The US & Israel Political Relationship over the Years

The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, performed a remarkable turnaround right around the time of the formation of the State of Israel. Despite the fact that he was an avowed Socialist, he moved the country to a more Western mindset right from the get-go. He received the support of President Harry S. Truman, and that was a major accomplishment, as the oil that flowed from the hostile Arab countries was so vital to US interests. In the years that followed World War II, the United States had many reasons to not side with the young State of Israel. But President Truman did what he believed was right even when it was unpopular. One can argue that until President Trump, Israel never had a greater friend in the Oval Office.

The administration of President Eisenhower had more of a cold relationship with Israel. John F. Kennedy was somewhat more friendly, but nothing very historic happened during his tenure in the Middle East. Lyndon Baines Johnson was not close with Israel, but warmed up – especially after Israel’s major victory in the Six Day War. One can argue that Richad Nixon proved to be a true supporter of the Jewish State in the fateful Yom Kippur War. Israel was caught off-guard and needed urgent supplies to rearm. He provided it, and that helped Israel ward off it’s attackers from the 3rd day of the war onward.

Mid 70’s Until Today

Both Gerald Ford & Jimmy Carter were not friendly to Israel. But Ford, at least spoke a bit differently after he left office. Carter was basically an Obama-like anti-Israel President who has never stopped attacking Israel since he left office. That all changed with Ronald Reagan who kept a friendly atmosphere with Israel through most of his tenure. George H. Bush was generally hostile to Israel and prone to pressuring Israel. Bill Clinton was rather neutral, yet enjoyed enormous popularity in Israel. George W. Bush was generally supportive, and of course Barack Obama was consistently hostile to Benjamin Netanyahu. Today, Israel has an opportunity that may not repeat itself with a close friend in the Oval Office. Donald Trump has a uniquely pro-Israel attitude. Israel should be thankful and take advantage of this time to solidify it’s place in the Middle East.

Dr. Risch

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