It was the night before Israel’s repeat election in September. As I scanned the usual news journals and periodicals for the latest horserace detail the collective sentiments of pundits and prognosticators mirrored catchwords and phrases we have come to associate with U.S. elections heading into our own presidential election years.
“Netanyahu fighting for survival…” —Times of Israel
“It will all come down to turnout…” —Jerusalem Post
“High drama unfolding…” —The New York Times
“Nothing short of political survival at stake…” —Reuters
In the spring, the Likud Party and Prime Minister Netanyahu won thirty-five seats in the Knesset, as did a coalition called Blue and White under the leadership of retired Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, then tapped Netanyahu to form a government. Coalition negotiations stumbled when the parties Netanyahu needed to join the government refused to compromise on several critical issues. Rather than allow Gantz an opportunity to try to form a coalition, Netanyahu called new elections this fall. Then came September’s general election, which subsequently also ended in deadlock.
I don’t mean to dismiss the significance of these elections. All elections are significant — and in this day and age, stable, open, democratic elections respectful of norms and established precedent should be cause for praise and even celebration, especially when you’re the only stable democracy in the Middle East.
Yet, despite all the added drama inflated by media clickbait, American interests in the region remain largely unaffected by the result. The Trump administration remains rightly focused on Iran aggressions and combating violent extremism, critical areas where Israel remains steadfast as America’s strongest and most trusted ally.
In fact, the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel has been one of the most stable features in U.S. foreign policy for nearly 40 years.
More than $3 billion in military and economic aid is sent annually to Israel by Washington, and aside from the protests of the occasional BDS-supporting freshman Democrat from Minnesota, or lonely isolationist rhetoric from a small minority of Republicans, support for Israel is rarely questioned in Congress.
It’s also notable that this is one area where Congress is in lockstep with the sentiment of the broader American public.
As the Trump administration prepares to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and is finalizing a broader Middle East peace plan, Gallup has indicated Americans' stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as ever. Last year, 64 percent say their sympathies in the dispute lie more with the Israelis, tying the high previously recorded in 2013 and 1991.
The United States rightly defines Israel’s survival and security as important to its own national interests. As part of the strategic partnership, America provides the Middle East’s sole democracy with security assistance so that it can defend itself. For its literal — not political — survival.
Israel in turn shares innovative and highly sought after technologies and counterterrorism techniques that greatly benefit both nations in the realms of defense intelligence and homeland security.
Together, America and Israel face many shared challenges. Maintaining enhanced strategic, political, and diplomatic ties between them, regardless of election outcomes at home and abroad, ultimately furthers American interests, promotes regional peace, and strengthens the security and safety of both nations.
My life, as the founder of Susan G. Komen, as someone who battled breast cancer, and as a diplomat who reported overseas in the hours after September 11, has come to be defined by the very notion of survival.
It’s also a thread that runs through my Jewish faith and the tales I have known for most of my life.
I have a personal appreciation for the fact that one of the most difficult things to accept in my Jewish faith is the acknowledgement that when they came to murder my ancestors, no one was there to rescue them. That’s the reason Israel exists today, and why they will never choose to leave their fate in the hands of others.
Yet, the fact remains that America — the greatest force for good the world has ever known — and her people continue to stand by Israel’s side as an indispensable ally. That’s bigger than any one election because it makes the world a safer place.
Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen, the world's largest breast cancer charity, has served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary, U.S. chief of protocol, and as a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control to the U.N.'s World Health Organization. She is continuing her work in efforts to end death from cancer. The opinions expressed here belong solely to the author. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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