9 March 2018

Note from Norm: Leaders May Change But Our Relationship Stays The Same

The relationship between the United States has withstood the test of time. It has even withstood decades of changes in leadership.

Long before Donald Trump became President and Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister our two nations have found common ground rooted in democracy, freedom and liberty.

In 1948 President Harry Truman said, “I had faith in Israel before it was established, I have faith in it now.”

President Dwight Eisenhower declared “Our forces saved the remnant of the Jewish people of Europe for a new life and a new hope in the reborn land of Israel. Along with all men of good will, I salute the young state and wish it well.”

The fate of Israel was not lost on President John F. Kennedy when he mused “Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”

Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin, after the 1967 war, asked President Lyndon Johnson why the U.S. supported Israel when there were tens of millions more Arabs and just a fraction of Israelis, Johnson responded bluntly, “Because it is right.”

Richard Nixon “Americans admire a people who can scratch a desert and produce a garden. The Israelis have shown qualities that Americans identify with: guts, patriotism, idealism, a passion for freedom. I have seen it. I know. I believe that.”

America’s commitment to Israel has remained strong during the best of times between our two nations as well as the worst of times.

From Gerald Ford’s promise to never be found “wanting” in America’s support for Israel to President Carter’s exhortation that “The survival of Israel is not just a political issue, it is a moral imperative” to Reagans understanding that we are “…historic partners in the global quest for human dignity and freedom.” and George Bush’s “…profound desire for a lasting peace in the Middle East.” to Bill Clinton’s reflection that “Our relations are unique among all nations.” to George W. Bush firm conviction that “The alliance between our governments is unbreakable…” America and Israel have stood strong together.

President Barack Obama whose relationship with Israel has been as strained as any modern American President made it clear that “America will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.”

To put an exclamation point on where America stands, in 2017 President Donald Trump was crystal clear where America stands: “I make this promise to you: My Administration will always stand with Israel.”

The world now sees our two nations standing together this week in the capitol of the most powerful democracy the Earth has ever seen.

Both Netanyahu and Trump are seminal figures in both of their respective nations.

Trump has already broken with conventions of the past by announcing in December that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and open a US Embassy there in May.

Netanyahu has consistently, and correctly, called out Iran as the single greatest threat to regional stability in the Middle East and has kept its intentions in check with a steadfast commitment to peace and security.

There are enormous challenges facing both of our nations across the globe.

After eight years of an Administration that largely abandoned America’s place in the world President Trump has made it clear that America’s role remains one rooted in standing up and speaking out for freedom, democracy and liberty across the globe.

It’s a commitment that Prime Minister Netanyahu has never wavered from in his leadership of Israel while surrounded by hostile nations committed to his nation’s destruction.

This week Netanyahu addressed nearly 20,000 attendees at the American Israeli Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C. He received his usual hero’s welcome. His presentation was proclaimed by friends and foes as spectacular.

He vividly described the Iranian threat – the “darkness” that it casts in the region. He extolled the virtues of Israel’s start up nation technological success. He aptly applauded President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

With mounting legal challenges at home, this may have been his farewell appearance on the AIPAC stage as Israel’s Prime Minister. But the strength of the U.S – Israel bond transcends individual political figures- even one as enduring and inspiring as Netanyahu.

Presidents, and Prime Ministers, come and go through the history of both of our nations.

It is a testament to strength of each of our nations that the more some things change the more some important things stay the same.

And, when it comes to the Israel and the United States, no matter who is its Prime Minister or its President, both nations remain bound together, as steadfast allies -and the most powerful forces for freedom and democracy in the Middle East.