We vote not just for a President, but for a presidency. Particularly for voters concerned about Mideast policy, it’s hard to argue with the accomplishments—too many of which we already take for granted. You might (grudgingly) concede that this presidency has been, by-and-large, a success.
Originally published in the Jerusalem Post
I know. Many of you loathe President Trump. He triggers your contempt, disdain, scorn and various Trumpian synonyms still to be coined. You find him vulgar, narcissistic, dishonest, ignorant, bigoted, divisive, uncouth, misogynistic, racist, nativistic, Islamophobic and antisemitic, not to mention a fraud, con-man and tax cheat. You “sat shiva” mourning his unimaginable election; your revulsion has only snowballed since. You disbelieve his every word, including “and” and “the.” Evidence or not, you remain convinced that he colluded with Russia to unfairly defeat Hillary Clinton. His lack of moral compass and coddling dictators and white supremacists sickens you. And, embarrassed as you are that he is President, you are even more appalled by his voters. (Did I leave anything out?)
Understood. I may disagree, but I certainly understand where you are coming from. I respect that this is how you not-unreasonably see things. I won’t try to convince you otherwise. For real.
Now, take a deep breath. Hold your nose. And vote for Trump anyway. For real.
We vote not just for a President, but for a presidency. Put aside, momentarily, your visceral hatred for the President; you might grudgingly concede that this presidency has been, by-and-large, a success. Particularly for voters concerned about Israel’s security and American Mideast policy, it’s hard to argue with his accomplishments—too many of which we already take for granted.
First, this administration truly values Israel as a loyal and helpful ally, and won’t publicly project any annoyance, disagreement or frustration (“daylight” in the Obama-Biden parlance) with Israel. That loyalty to an embattled ally pays dividends; it gets noticed in Tehran, Moscow and Abu Dhabi as much as in Jerusalem.
Rather than browbeating Israel into formulaic never-successful land-for-peace concessions, the Trump administration turned conventional peacemaking on its head: it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, fulfilling US law that other administrations pushed off for decades; recognized the Golan Heights as Israeli territory; and recognized Israel’s legal and historical rights in the West Bank, including repudiating the Carter administration’s malicious Hansell memorandum declaring settlements illegal. All, remarkably, in three-plus years.
While every one of these moves was criticized by Washington’s wise-men for “inevitably” angering the Arab states and streets, the Trump administration was busy brokering unprecedented peace accords between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, and others states soon to follow. It strengthens both the US and Israel when countries see that better relations with Israel help put them in America’s good graces.
The Trump administration blocked relentless UN anti-Israel mischief at every turn. Compare that to the Obama-Biden perfidious parting shot at Israel: UN Security Council Resolution 2334, declaring Israeli activity in all “Palestinian” territory—including the Old City of Jerusalem—a “flagrant violation of international law” and of “no legal validity.” Did that bring peace any closer? (Beware: that resolution may be a ticking diplomatic bomb, to be activated once the Trump administration is out of the way.)
In fact, Biden was reportedly the “point man” in getting that resolution passed, including a phone call to—incredibly—the president of Ukraine pressuring him to support the resolution.
Trump famously tore up the JCPOA, that Obama-negotiated, much cheated-on Iran nuclear deal that so alarmed Israel and the Sunni Arab states. Seen as nuclear appeasement, it also gave Iran sanctions relief and access to some $150 billion used mostly to finance Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias. Trump has almost singlehandedly reimposed sanctions that have Iran’s mullah-cracy teetering, and its Hezbollah subsidiary in financial straits. His administration engineered the elimination of Iran’s Republican Guard Corps leadership, not to mention crushing ISIS and its leaders.
Biden has pledged to rejoin the JCPOA.
Trump’s domestic accomplishments also spawned foreign policy benefits. Trump cut taxes and an astounding amount of red tape, stimulating immediate economic growth and record employment (pre-Covid) which outpaced every one of Obama-Biden’s sluggish eight years. This especially fostered an American energy production boom: the US is now the world’s top producer of both oil and natural gas, and, incredibly, a net oil exporter . About two-thirds of that energy is produced through fracking. Biden advocates banning or severely curtailing fracking.
The effect of energy independence on American national security and foreign policy cannot be overstated. Compare OPEC’s monopolistic leverage, wielded to the detriment of the US and Israel during its 1970s embargo, to today: Persian Gulf kingdoms are de-radicalizing, diversifying their formerly one-dimensional economies, seeking greater cooperation with the US, and finding peace and normalization with Israel to be in their interests.
That is quite a record for any administration, no matter how distasteful the President. On the flip side, Biden himself may be OK (though not great) regarding Israel support. But his team is composed primarily of old Obama hands and Bernie Sanders advisors who are frighteningly unsympathetic to Israel, as is much of his party. How much confidence is warranted that Biden will really be the one commanding Israel policy for four years?
Recoil if you must from Trump’s tweeting and speaking style; gag from his personality, and wallow in disgust at his pervasive Trump-ness. I get it.
Still, consider the alternative; then, force yourself to vote to keep this solid administration in place.
Abe Katsman is an American lawyer and political commentator in Israel. He serves as Counsel to Republicans Overseas Israel.