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Speaking at virtual symposium on Israel’s role in American politics, Former US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro also asserted that no US President since FDR has faced as many great challenges entering the White House as Joe Biden
Haifa, Israel (April 20, 2021) – The American Jewish leadership must choose between supporting its Jewish constituents or a Biden administration that is in a “hurry” to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the annual symposium of the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Program for American Jewish Studies at University of Haifa, Danon said, “We are at a time when the United States’ Jewish political leadership has to make a decision: whether to side with Israel or with an administration that is in a hurry to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Since American Jews sided with Israel when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was initially established in 2015, he believes the same will be true today if the Biden administration re-enters the deal. He also cited attempts in Congress to limit American military aid to Israel as part of a change in policy toward the Jewish state.
Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, however, had a different take on the likelihood that a rift with the US will impact military aid to Israel.
“There’s no conditionality and there hasn’t been. That was not the approach and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. There are such voices [advocating for this] within the Democratic party, but they have not gained significant support,” he said.
He disagreed with Danon’s take on Iran as well, providing a much more optimistic perspective: “Israel can offer intelligence and security insights and there are many things that the US and Israel can agree on together like imposing restrictions on Iran. So maybe there will be disagreements on the preliminary steps, but there are long term goals as well [where common ground can be found]. Disagreements are natural and can be managed with good will.”
He also spoke glowingly of US President Joe Biden’s agenda amid a range of highly contentious issues with which to contend.
“No president since (Franklin D.) Roosevelt has entered the White House with as many great challenges as Joe Biden,” Shapiro said, citing the president’s “ambitious” agenda to combat a variety of issues including the dire health and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that has left over 550,000 Americans dead.
“He’s willing to break traditions and take political risks in order to achieve the needs of the moment; including racial justice, voting rights and the climate crisis,” he said, but questioned whether he’ll be able to “sustain” his 59% approval rating considering the polarization of the American people.
The symposium was held in what the Ruderman Family Foundation considers to be a critical time in the Israeli-American relationship.
“We are at a crossroads regarding future relations between Israel, the new US administration, and the American Jewish community. The Biden victory, with the support of the vast majority of US Jewry, illustrated the growing differences of opinions between American Jews and Israelis,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Recently, a number of Israeli public figures have made disparaging remarks against Reform and Orthodox streams to which most Americans belong. Such statements only succeed in exacerbating tensions. Additionally, the inclusion of extreme parties into Israel’s mainstream political system also increases polarization among American Jews – especially the younger generation.”
“Therefore, our challenge is to rebuild relations, to re-establish a dialogue with mainstream liberal Jews and to erect a bridge between Israel and the Biden administration. The institutions responsible for this conversation on both sides need a restart and must acclimate themselves to the digital world of 2021.”