Shany Mor is a former Director for Foreign Policy on the Israeli National Security Council. In these first thoughts on the implications of a Trump presidency for the US-Israel relationship, first published in Fathom, he assesses the likely impact for Israel’s diplomatic position while warning of the re-normalisation of antisemitism in democratic politics in the West, the alarming rise of illiberal democracy and some worrying trends in Israeli media.
It would be reckless to predict what Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election this week portends for the US-Israel relationship because it would be reckless to predict what Trump’s victory means for America itself.
There are a few trends worth keeping our eyes on, however. Israel and the US recently signed a new ten-year Memorandum of Understanding on defence aid. The details have been analysed elsewhere, and it no doubt constitutes a renewal of America’s commitment to Israel’s security and a further fortification of Israel’s qualitative military edge.
But beyond that, it symbolises a deep rethink of the relationship on behalf of both American and Israeli elites. For the Obama administration, it is the culmination of a long-term tactic of separating security cooperation from the rest of the relationship. This has occasionally baffled American critics of Israeli policy, as previous administrations have always used defence aid as a means of leverage over Israel. Obama, in contrast, has used defence aid as a way of neutralising pro-Israel critics at home and, unsuccessfully sometimes, as a way of softening Israeli reluctance to move forward diplomatically. Most importantly for him, he has removed the lever that most involves Congress — sparing himself showdowns over Israel that plagued Presdients Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George W. H. Bush.
Read the full article in Fathom.