Trump and Netanyahu go under the ‘missiletoe'
Israeli elections are fast approaching. On April 9, the 21st Knesset, Israel’s parliament, will be elected and Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent prime minister, would like to keep himself and his Likud party in power. However, the attorney general of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit, announced his intention of indicting Netanyahu on criminal corruption charges. As he faces competition from other parties, as well as a threat to his name, Netanyahu is campaigning aggressively.
The Likud campaign took out sizable billboards on major highways in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem that featured a photo of Netanyahu shaking hands with President Donald Trump. The ad depicts the two leaders shaking hands underneath a Hebrew slogan that reads: “A Different League.” Netanyahu is standing side-by-side with the president of the United States, implying that he is the one responsible for the favor the Trump administration has shown toward Israel since 2016. Netanyahu knows his crowd — Israelis support Trump at a much higher rate than other U.S. allies. In response to a 2018 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Israelis showed confidence in Trump.
The campaign strategy Netanyahu is utilizing could persuade the majority of Israelis who have historically prioritized national security to vote for him. One of the main reasons Netanyahu has been prime minister for three consecutive terms is because the right-wing Likud party runs on a platform of strong defense and preventative security measures. In the aftermath of intifadas, knife stabbings and hundreds of civilian terror deaths, Israelis understand first-hand the paramount importance of security.
American Jews have traditionally supported a more liberal U.S. policy regarding Israel. Fourty-eight percent of American Jews supported the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, while 28 percent opposed it, a survey taken by the Los Angeles’ Jewish Journal reports.
By pulling out of the Iran deal, Trump aligned with Netanyahu’s staunch policy of preventative security. However, what does this alliance of Israeli and American right-wing leaders mean for left-leaning Jews who have always been pro-Israel?
Trump reinstituted sanctions against Iran and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, a deal that Netanyahu and a majority of Israelis had vehemently opposed. Additionally, in 2017, Trump made a historic decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, becoming the first world leader to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Support of Israel, or lack thereof, must be a bipartisan issue. Netanyahu’s campaign isolates Jewish Americans who approve of Israel as an ally but may not approve of Trump.
It is worrisome that Jewish Democrats, non-Jewish Democrats and non-Trump supporting Republicans may retract their support of Israel if it remains tied to Trump’s face staring down on Israelis while they commute.