White House winner: hopes, fears

White House winner: hopes, fears

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump. Photos: Angela Weiss and Mandel Ngan/AFP
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump. Photos: Angela Weiss and Mandel Ngan/AFP

“IF the Trump era ends with this election, he will be remembered as one of the finest allies Israel has ever had.”

That was the sentiment from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) this week as Americans headed to the polls in one of the most crucial and controversial elections in recent history.

Noting incumbent President Donald Trump had ended US participation in the “disastrous” Iran deal, recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s “true and permanent capital”, and brokered peace with Arab states, “effectively ending the Arab-Israeli conflict”, ECAJ co-CEO Alex Ryvchin warned, “Yet under his presidency social cohesiveness, stability and absolute rejection of conspiracy theorists and fringe groups – all things that go to the core of Jewish life in America – have been alarmingly undermined. 

“Meanwhile, while Joe Biden has long had a strong relationship with Israel and US Jewry and projects decency and moderation, many Jews in America and abroad will be concerned about whether a Biden presidency will bring the left fringe of his party, which is deeply hostile to Israel, into positions of real power.”

Regardless of the outcome, the roof body hopes the “march of peace in the Middle East will continue, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital and the American Jewish community and its leadership … will continue to work relentlessly to enhance the Israel-US relationship and preserve the Jewish way of life”.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein said AIJAC hopes the next administration will “sustain the military and financial pressure on Iran’s regime to curtail its violent, destabilising activities and agree to a new deal which genuinely ends Tehran’s quest for nuclear weapons”, and “build on the Abraham Accords, expanding the circle of Arab and Muslim partners with Israel, while recognising the limited and negative role increasingly accorded the Palestinian issue by the Arab states”.

Rubenstein also called on the next president to “recognise the reality that Palestinian promotion of hate education and terrorism is an ideologically driven phenomenon that must be confronted to make peace possible, not a product of despair which must be appeased”, and “continue to invest in the extraordinary US-Israel relationship, which is based on both shared values and shared interests”.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler stated, “If President Trump loses the election, there is no doubt that his dysfunctional leadership style and poor management of COVID-19 will be a major factor. However, one cannot deny his major foreign policy achievements in the Middle East.”

Noting the longstanding relationship that Joe Biden has with Benjamin Netanyahu, Leibler cautioned, “If he is elected, a key challenge for Mr Biden will be resisting pressure from some of the more extreme elements in his party.”

Leibler said in recent years, a clear division had emerged between the political leanings of the majority of American Jewry and the majority of Israelis. 

“These divisions and the US election campaign reinforce the importance of maintaining bipartisan support for Israel in Australia,” he added.

Australian Jewish leaders shared their thoughts as a new poll found that some 70 per cent of Jewish Israelis believe a victory for Trump over Biden would be preferable for the Jewish State. The Israel Democracy Institute survey, released on Monday, asked whether the Republican incumbent or his Democratic challenger is better, “from the standpoint of Israel’s interests”.

Among Israeli Jews, 70 per cent said Trump would be the preferred candidate, 13 per cent said Biden, and 17 per cent didn’t know.

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