Do Israelis understand Israel’s best interests?

The Times of Israel has just reported that 70% of Israeli Jews believe that Israel would be better off if Trump beats Biden in the upcoming election.  Because Jews make up more than 74% of the total Israeli population, that means that, even if not one, single non-Jewish Israeli shares that belief (which is impossible to believe), it would still be true that a majority of 52% of all Israelis favor Trump over Biden.

But, when you think about it, what the heck would Israelis know about Israel’s best interests?  After all, we’ve read in the ToI dozens of blog posts, all of which have been “featured” and written by American academics, rabbis, activists, talking heads, etc., and they tell us that it is Joe Biden who is the best choice for those American voters who are concerned about the security and success of Israel.  I’m not going to try to list all the posts, but representative exemplars are here, here, here and here.

All these posts are written by Americans who, I believe, are sincerely interested in advancing Israel’s best interests.  So, a question arises.  Who is likely to know what is best for Israel: a majority of the Israeli population, or American academics, rabbis, activists, talking heads, etc.?

I would think that this question is one that answers itself, that is, that the answer is so obvious that it need not even be stated.  After all, suppose someone announced that he or she had deep insight into everything there is to know about you, and suppose that person then wrote an essay setting forth all the choices you ought to make in life to attain what is best for you.  Would you be likely to pay a lot of attention to those recommendations, or would you continue to rely on your own best judgement as to what is best for you?  I’m guessing you would do the latter.

As I’ve said, the self-appointed “experts” who know better than the majority of Israelis do not lack a sincere concern for the well-being of Israel.  But what they do certainly lack is an appropriate degree of humility with regard to very complicated, weighty issues that they can only be fully appreciated by those who will have to live with the consequences of the resolution of those issues.

We’ve heard American “experts” decry Trump’s decision to exit the Obama/Biden administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, whose supreme leader has vowed to wipe Israel off the map.  But Israel’s democratically-elected government fully supported Trump’s decision, and that government represents a majority of Israelis.  So, who would know better whether Israel is better off as a result of Trump’s decision: a majority of Israelis, or American “experts”?

The Obama/Biden administration abstained from vetoing U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which identified Israeli settlement activity as the only specific threat to the viability of the two-state solution.  No activities of Palestinians—not the firing of mortars and rockets from Gaza, nor the digging of tunnels into Israel, nor the launching of incendiary balloons—were similarly specified as threatening the two-state solution.

The democratically-elected Israeli government deplored the U.S. abstention.  Joe Biden has never criticized or publicly regretted the decision to abstain, which was made while he was Vice President.  So, who knows best what is in Israel’s interests: Biden and his supporters, or a majority of Israelis?

When Pres. Trump finally decided to fulfill the long-standing U.S. intention to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a majority of Israelis were strongly supportive, as was Israel’s government.  At that time, Mr. Biden said that, while he would not reverse the decision if he were elected president, he nevertheless would not have made the decision in the first place.  Was the decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel’s best interests?  Israelis think so, but Joe Biden and his supporters beg to differ.  Who do you think is the best judge of Israel’s interests?

I could go on, but I think the point has been made.

Once again, I want to emphasize that I’m not claiming, and I don’t believe, that the American “experts” who purport to know what is best for Israel do not have Israel’s best interests at heart.  What I am claiming is that all those “experts” lack a very necessary degree of humility.  It borders on the absurd for them to contend that their views regarding Israel’s future should be preferred over the views of a majority of Israelis.  “I know what’s best for you” might work (but not for very long) when asserted by a parent to a child, but it’s not at all convincing in the context of international affairs.  In that context, “You know what’s best for you” will almost certainly work better.

About the Author
David E. Weisberg is a semi-retired attorney and a member of the N.Y. Bar; he also has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The University of Michigan (1971). He now lives in Cary, NC. His scholarly papers on U.S. constitutional law can be read on the Social Science Research Network at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=2523973
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