Neal Urwitz
Caring for Israel from America

A second Trump presidency should terrify Israel

I’m a pro-Israel voter. My career began at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as a 19-year-old intern with few skills, just core beliefs. My earliest commentaries were in my college newspaper, lamenting the rise of Hamas as the governing party of Gaza (I dearly wish I wasn’t so prescient.) Israel has an ally in me; it is a kinship I feel in my kishkes.

And it is precisely because I am a pro-Israel voter that I do not want the likely Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump, to become President again. A second Trump presidency would be a disaster for the Jewish State.

I concede Trump’s first administration somewhat benefitted Israel. Moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a long-time wish list item. The Abraham Accords, though now in shambles, marked progress.

Yet a second Trump Administration would be far different. First, Trump now surrounds himself with people holding nakedly antisemitic views. He dined with Nick Fuentes, a notorious antisemite, and Kanye West, most recently famous for praising Hitler. Trump receives regular advice from Steve Bannon, who sees himself as a vessel for the alt-right and who has actively courted overtly antisemitic parties in Europe. Trump himself offered support to tiki-torch wielding fanatics chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not identical, but they rhyme. The prospect of antisemites making Israel policy, or even having a voice in it, is terrifying.

Worse, those voices would not be challenged by rock-ribbed Israel supporters in a second Trump Administration. Mainstream supporters will not be welcome. Indeed, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have already said they will not take part. As Trump is prone to agreeing with whomever he hears from last, Steve Bannon could well have the final word on US support for Israel.

Israelis have many other reasons to believe a second Trump administration would be dangerous for the Jewish State. While Trump was able to foster a close relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we have to assume Netanyahu is on his way out. The fact that just 15% of Israelis want him to stay in office following the war doesn’t bode well for his political future.

Netanyahu’s possible successors are unlikely to get along with Trump. Yair Lapid is a former journalist (Trump’s kryptonite) committed to the two-state solution. Benny Gantz’s military service shaped him and, as former generals John KellyJim MattisMark Milley, and HR McMaster, can attest, Trump does not respect military leaders or the military ethos.

One can imagine Trump exploding at Lapid or Gantz in the same way he lambasted conservative, allied leaders like Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Israel should be further concerned about the Republican Party to which Trump would be answerable; as the GOP’s sudden and aggressive opposition to Ukraine aid shows, the MAGA movement can quickly and unexpectedly abandon allies and partners. The Kurds have similarly found Trump and the MAGA movement abandoning them without reason or warning.

The same fate may befall Israel.

There was a time, of course, when that was unthinkable, but Trump’s praise of Israel’s enemies may signal that Trump’s own views on Israel have shifted. He called Hezbollah’s leaders “very smart” and, offered the chance to correct himself, vehemently refused to do so. Further, in the immediate, horrible days following the October 7 massacre, Trump chose not to offer words of comfort to Israel or even to direct outrage at Hamas; he chose to criticize Netanyahu for “let[ting] us down” and lectured him about the need to “step up [his] game.”

Israelis may assume a second Trump administration would be more of the same. That is a dangerous calculation. Israel has no margin for error. It cannot afford to trust a man with so many red flags concerning his support for our blue and white one.

About the Author
Urwitz is a Washington, DC native who has spent his career at the intersection of national security, politics, and public relations. He has worked in the communications shops of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, and served in the Biden Administration.
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