by Lyla Souccar
In Donald Trump’s four years in office, he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declared Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and negotiated peace treaties between Israel and four Arab nations. Despite the changes Trump initiated, many wonder if President Joseph Biden will ultimately be better for Israel as he may be more respected by the global community and be viewed as a fairer arbitrator.
According to an exit poll by Associated Press, 68 percent of American Jews voted for Biden, while just 30 percent voted for Trump. “President Trump said all the right things but I don’t know if, in the end, Israel benefited
from all of his positivity,” Associate Head of School Rabbi Harry Pell said. “The way he approached the situation, in the long run, was not necessarily beneficial for Israel.”
Trump’s decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem was America’s way of showing recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, an issue disputed by many Palestinians. Few other nations followed suit.
“Many of Trump’s attitudes about Israel basically antagonize people, which lead to more hate and distrust,” High School Hebrew Department Chair Rachel Kirschbaum said.
Experts believe that Biden will be a strong friend to the Jewish State. His record in the Senate and as vice president in the Obama administration show his support for Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East. One significant development that came out of the close relationship between the two countries was the Iron Dome. The anti-missile system was developed during the Obama-Biden administration as a way to stop the missiles launched by Hamas from Gaza to Israel. This close collaboration will continue with Biden as president.
“Biden has been able to offer both support and critique of Israel over time,” High School Principal Eric Bassin said. “He’s trying to be able to do both as any good friend would.”
Israeli Jews believed Trump was better for Israel than Biden would be. Seventy percent of Israeli Jews said a victory for Trump in the United States presidential election would be preferable for the Jewish State, according to a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute which was released a day before the election. In the survey, more than 40 percent of Israeli Jews said the US-Israel bond would weaken if Biden won the race.
Another issue facing the Biden administration with regard to Israel is Iran and its race to obtain nuclear weapons. All eyes will be on Biden and whether he decides to return to the Iran Nuclear Deal that Obama put in place in 2015. It called for a reduction in Iran’s nuclear program and international inspections. The Atlantic indicated that Trump pulled out of the deal because he said it was ineffective and that Iran was continuing to develop nuclear weapons in secret.
“I’m worried Biden wants to reinstate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal,” senior Lily Zuckerman said. “Under that deal, it is possible that Iran could get nuclear weapons which of course would be detrimental for Israel.”
Biden is already under pressure to deliver on his campaign promise to go back to the 2015 deal. Iran says it is willing to stop uranium enrichment if the U.S. lifts the sanctions put in place by Trump which are hurting Iran’s economy, but many don’t believe what Iranian rulers say.
“The Iran deal is very controversial to this day,” Pell said. “All the major countries in the world agreed to it, and it definitely slowed down Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.”
Biden’s ability to work with other countries on issues facing Israel and the Middle East may end up benefiting Israel. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Biden is likely to better help Israel and Jews all over the world as a more moderate friend not just to Israel but to the Arabs as well.
“The added element is the anti-Semitism that we’ve seen in this country that has been uncovered over the last four years,” Kirschbaum said. “Mostly from the left, but also from the right, there is a lot of opposition to the notion of supporting Israel. Biden will be better for this.”