Even in Israel, it’s been difficult to find anyone in the media talking about anything but the US presidential election today.
As numerous Israeli commentators, including our own Tsvi Sadan, have pointed out, this race for the White House is perhaps even more fateful for the Jewish state than any before.
Earlier this week, leaders of the Jewish settler movement gathered at one of Judaism’s holiest shrines to beseech God to grant four more years to Donald Trump.
Israel’s electorate leans firmly to the Right, and polls conducted over the past week have shown that a strong majority would choose Trump if they could vote in US elections. That stands in sharp contrast to the voting habits of America’s large Jewish population, which traditionally votes overwhelmingly Democrat.
While most non-religious American Jews are focused primarily on domestic issues in the US, Israeli Jews are naturally more concerned with the potential foreign policies of whoever sits in the Oval Office.
Over the past four years, Trump has demonstrated a willingness to make moves beneficial to Israel that no other president before him has been ready or able to make. On the other hand, Joe Biden previously served as vice president to Barack Obama, perceived by many here as the most anti-Israel president in US history. A recent poll revealed that nearly half of all Israelis fear that a Biden presidency would weaken and even harm US-Israel relations.
On the other side of the “West Bank” security fence, the Palestinians feel exactly the opposite. For them, a Trump victory would be an unmitigated catastrophe.
While Obama was seen as the most pro-Muslim, if not pro-Palestinian, president in US history (and they expect Biden would be similar), the Palestinians take Trump to be an unrepentant Zionist eager only to promote the Jewish state’s agenda.
For those paying attention, there are two points of irony here:
- While the Palestinians see Trump as the Jewish state’s great champion, back in the US he’s routinely accused of antisemitism and other forms of racism, even by Palestinian representatives in Congress;
- Trump flipping the peace process on its head in Israel’s favor was forecast to unleash a wave of hostility and violence in the Arab world. Instead, his policies have fostered an unprecedented peace movement that’s seen three Arab states normalize relations with Israel, and a promise that many more will follow.
But back to the Palestinians.
For decades, the PLO has managed to make their nationalist agenda the foremost concern of the entire Arab world. Trump changed all that by giving moderate Arab regimes that would rather focus on their own interests the international backing they needed to break free of the quagmire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Naturally, this is a major blow to those who cling to Yasser Arafat’s vision of one day replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian state, and they would love nothing more than to see Joe Biden send Trump packing.