Daily Kickoff: JI experts answer our questions about the implications of Trump’s win | Will Trump & AIPAC get along? | Iran agreement on shaky ground?
ABOUT LAST NIGHT — Questions On Our Mind After Trump’s Upset Victory: (1) What does this mean for the U.S. – Israel relationship? (2) Will the Obama Administration now push for an Israeli Palestinian peace effort at the UN in their remaining weeks? (3) What’s the state of the Iran agreement going forward? (4) Will AIPAC and Trump get along, especially after the organization’s unprecedented apology over Trump’s remarks at their last policy conference? (5) Who will be Trump’s Ambassador to Israel? (6) Will that Ambassador work from Jerusalem? (7) Why was Jared Kushner not given a shoutout on stage last night from his father-in-law? Seperately, Trump noted the presence of his daughter-in-law Lara, who is Jewish, and married to Eric Trump.
We asked some prominent JI readers to respond to these questions. Here are their replies… includes comments from Yossi Klein Halevi, Ken Weinstein, Mindy Finn, Noam Neusner, Ari Harow, Tevi Troy, Aaron David Miller, Jeff Ballabon, David Siegel, and Trump advisor David Friedman…
Q: Will the Obama Administration now push activity at the UN?
Hudson Institute’s Ken Weinstein: “The prestige of the Obama administration has been dealt a serious blow by the Trump victory, especially given the political capital spent by the President, the First Lady and the Vice President on behalf of Clinton. This particular moment of a lame duck presidency is definitely not the time for pushing a Palestinian state at the UN.”
Noam Neusner: “There would have to be something to achieve out of some kind of anti-Israel UN gambit — at this stage, there aren’t many Democrats who would give Obama cover for abandoning Israel. He has no political juice — it just disappeared.”
Netanyahu’s former Chief of Staff Ari Harow: “I don’t believe they will. With the incoming Trump administration most likely to take a different approach to the UN, any such activity would be for naught.”
Yossi Klein Halevi: “If Obama does go to the UN, it will be a fit of pique that will have no positive consequences. It would be Obama throwing a temper tantrum. If I were Obama waking up to the news today, the last thing on my mind would be the Palestinian issue. Obama is looking at the ruin of Obamacare, at a very shaky Iran deal, and some other of his key initiatives. If he goes to the UN, he will just be compounding his failure on the peace process.”
Tevi Troy: “I’m generally not a fan of outgoing presidents pushing new policy agendas after the president-elect is determined. In the Bush administration, for example, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told cabinet secretaries to stop new regulatory efforts in July of 2008, months before the election took place. That said, it wouldn’t shock me if President Obama took steps out the door to handcuff President-elect Trump and to put Israel in a more difficult situation vis a vis the UN. I hope he resists the temptation.”
Q: What does this mean for the U.S. – Israel relationship?
Interesting to note: A JI reader emailed us this morning, “Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer is a big winner… This will be much more of his environment… Dermer worked together with Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, at Frank Luntz’s shop back in the day.”
Aaron David Miller: “With so much of its governance in a box, a Trump Administration will adopt a kind of if ‘it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it’ mentality to any relationship that isn’t in need of immediate attention. Relations post Obama are likely to improve as Trump’s hostility to the Iran nuclear deal increases and any pressure on Israel with respect to the Palestinian issue diminishes, Expect Netanyahu to come to the White House before Passover.”
Neusner: “Probably a neutral event from a relationship point of view. If Trump is inconsistent and provocative, it would be bad for Israel and the US both in the Middle East.”
Weinstein: “Netanyahu is one of the few big foreign winners of the 2016 election. He will have a sympathetic ally and ear in President Trump, one who doesn’t believe that the key to Middle East peace is a Palestinian state. Trump can start to help repair other rifts caused by the policies of President Obama, especially with regards to Iran.”
Harow: “There is most definitely a belief that the Trump administration will show greater understanding for Israeli concerns, be it on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Palestinian conflict, and the war on terror. An interesting point to remember is that after serving as Prime Minister for over a decade, this is the first time Netanyahu will work with a Republican president.”
Klein Halevi: “Trump, as we know has very thin skin, and does not take slights, whether real or intended, well. The great danger in navigating the relationship with this president is to avoid personal complications. Trump is not about ideology, or even policy, but about emotion. We’re going to have to tread carefully, not to insult or provoke this president, and develop a good working relationship. The fact that Trump has Jewish family members is potentially of special significance for a leader for whom everything is personal.”
“For me, this is not ultimately about Israel. It is about the fate of the world. We are part of this world, and many Jews have a tendency to think of Israel in isolation of the fate of the rest of the world. And as it happens, we are part of humanity, and where humanity goes the state of Israel goes. And so whether Trump moves the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or not, there are much deeper questions about world stability and global economy. What was so disturbing to me as an Israeli, watching this election, was that it reminded me of Israel in the 1990’s, where Left and Right saw each other as illegitimate and that led to a political assassination. Democrats and Republicans saw each other’s candidate as an existential threat to America, and I am deeply afraid for the mental health of the country I grew up in. I am feeling the fragility of America society, as an Israeli, and I am terrified.”
Jeff Ballabon: “It’s an understatement to say that Donald Trump and his team are a breath of fresh air. I worked with Trump’s advisors on the revolutionary Republican platform and they clearly understand the issues better than any diplomatic or policy team I’ve worked with or observed in 25 years. They are independent, they understand that Israel is our ally, that Israel is not legally or morally an occupier anywhere in the indigenous Jewish homeland and that Jews should have the right to live freely, in peace and security, including in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Finally, they respect Israel’s sovereignty and so will resist any international pressure on Israel to sacrifice its security to please the rest of the world.”
Troy: “I am hopeful that the Trump election leads to an improvement in the US Israel relationship. Clearly, these were a rocky eight years under Obama for that special friendship.”
Former Israeli Consul Gen. David Siegel: “I have no doubt that President-elect Trump will be a great friend and ally to Israel and will work closely with Israel to advance our shared interests for a secure, stable and peaceful Middle East.”
Q: What will the relationship between a Trump administration and AIPAC look like especially after the unprecedented apology from AIPAC over Trump’s speech during the last policy conference?
–Worth Noting: AIPAC national board member David Cordish is friendly with Trump and publicly introduced the President-elect at a Maryland GOP dinner in the summer of 2015. In the video we captured at the time, Cordish describes how Ivanka was the matchmaker for his son, Reed Cordish and Margaret Katz. Trump and David Cordish first met when Trump sued Cordish Co. over a Florida casino project. The judge pushed for mediation, Trump and Cordish met in-person, worked things out and became friends.
–Key Player: Michael Glassner, who we profiled last year, was spotted standing on stage at Trump’s victory party last night. Glassner served as AIPAC’s Southwest Regional Political Director immediately prior to joining the Trump campaign.
Weinstein: “AIPAC was able to get along with President Obama. It should be able to rally around U.S. Middle East policies that are tilted more favorably towards Israel. Given the way he ran his campaign, a President Trump may be less dependent on the ability of AIPAC members to raise political funds. But AIPAC should still be able to build strong bridges to Trump and his team, regardless of the apology. J Street, on the other hand, will be entering the political wilderness, without a sympathetic White House and without committee chairs in Congress to push its agenda.”
Troy: “AIPAC clearly have some work to do following the controversy surrounding Trump’s speech to them. The lesson for both AIPAC and attendees for the future should be that the annual conference is an opportunity to hear the views of the different presidential candidates, and that all candidates should be given a respectful opportunity to state their views.”
Ballabon: “Trump’s advisors clearly have both the US’s and Israel’s best interests at heart and I think any organization that shares those priorities will be welcome. But the episode itself, which troubled so many of AIPAC’s biggest supporters as well, revealed the need for some serious internal rethinking about that organization’s mission and priorities. If they are primarily focused on pleasing their American Jewish base, they may find themselves at odds not only with a significant majority of Israelis on key issues – like Judea and Samaria and the so-called “Two-State Solution” – but also with a Trump administration team that has direct ties to Israel at least as deep and personal as anyone at AIPAC.”
Q: State of the Iran nuclear agreement going forward?
According to a Reuters report: “Say goodbye to the Iran deal,” said Richard Nephew, a former U.S. negotiator with Iran now at Columbia University. “There is very little likelihood that it stays, either because of a deliberate decision to tear it up by Trump, or steps that the U.S. takes which prompt an Iranian walk back.” The spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behrouz Kamalvandi, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency: “Iran is prepared for any change,” adding that Iran would try to stand by the deal.”
Neusner: “Obama doesn’t have anything that assures policy continuation on anything — the Iran agreement was never put to a vote. Assuming Trump meant what he said, he will probably walk away from it.”
Weinstein: “Trump has made overturning the Iran deal a centerpiece of his campaign. Unfortunately, much of the disastrous deal cannot be overturned: the cash given to Iran and the reversal of sanctions. But a Trump administration could work more closely with traditional Sunni allies and Israel to put greater pressure on Iran to confront its regional ambitions that have been largely unchecked. I can’t imagine that Trump would react as passively as Obama has in handling aggression by the Iranian navy.”
Harow: “Netanyahu made it clear in his speech to Congress and in public statements since that the Iran agreement is bad for Israel, bad for the U.S., and bad for the world. This has not changed. A revaluation of the Iran agreement by the new administration would be a welcome development.”
Q: How will the #NeverTrump wing react to a President Trump?
Ballabon: “Some #NeverTrump’s are principled and some are posturing. I’ve been hearing all along that many people who were assertively self-declared #NeverTrumps had also quietly submitted their resumes for the Trump campaign team or transition team. And some were crumbling even as the results were coming in last night, while others doubled down. So I think there will be many different reactions. We’ll have to wait to see if anything practical or significant survives or can be built by the remnants.”
Weinstein: “Serious think tankers will heed the call of patriotic service and join the Trump-Pence administration. Others will refuse. Those who have criticized the President-elect repeatedly are unlikely to be asked to join the administration. The extent to which advisors have influence will determine how many go in and how many stay.”
Mindy Finn, Evan McMullin’s running mate: “A President Trump that continues to stand for things that Donald Trump has stood for throughout this campaign? I disagree with him on several measures, namely the very important ones. One that he wants to expand the size of government, expand executive power and the role of the executive. He’s already become too powerful. He demeans and disrespects immigrants and people who don’t look like him – people from different faiths and background, and women. I oppose all those things, and if those are the things that Donald Trump stands for, then yes! I will continue to oppose him.”
Neusner: “Overall, it’s a rebuke to lots of people — especially those like me who opposed Trump in the primaries and who didn’t vote for him in the general. His political argument won. He changed the map. Now he has to prove he can govern. If he does — even as a big government nationalist with modest conservative instincts. — he will forever change the party. That might not leave room in it for someone like me, but that is far from settled. I will fight for ideas and sometimes against the party leaders, just as Buckley did under Eisenhower.”
Q: Will David Friedman serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel?
Friedman tells us: “I hope he makes that choice, but it’s his choice to make.”
Worth rereading: Trump Advisors Issue Position Paper on Israel [JewishInsider]
STATEMENTS — Netanyahu: “I congratulate Donald Trump on being elected the 45th President of the United States of America. President-elect Trump is a true friend of the State of Israel, and I look forward to working with him to advance security, stability and peace in our region… I am confident that President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the unique alliance between our two countries and bring it to ever greater heights.”
RJC’s Matt Brooks: “The RJC could not be happier with the election of Donald Trump and our Senate and House majorities. Whether it’s the millions of dollars we have raised, the paid advertisements, and the door-to-door grass roots activities, we are proud of all we have done to assist all our candidates in their victories. After a long, grueling campaign, it’s time for the nation to come together. While there are bound to be bruises on both sides of the aisle – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents must move forward and heal our differences, for the good of the country.”
“US ambassador to Israel calls on Trump to uphold Iran deal” by Raphael Ahren: “The nuclear pact, brokered under American leadership between six world powers and Iran last year, has been “very successful in doing exactly what it was designed to do, and that is to block systematically each pathway Iran had to achieve a nuclear weapon,” Dan Shapiro said. “Obviously we recommend the next administration continue [honoring the agreement], because it does fulfill that function.” Shapiro added, “There is no disagreement between the US and Israeli experts about Iran’s adherence to the terms of the agreement.”
— “Asked whether Israelis can expect Shapiro to be the last U.S. Ambassador to Israel to work from Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem, Shapiro replied: “Every US administration that has looked at the question has determined that the embassy is where it should be. I can’t speculate beyond that.” Shapiro also did not say whether Trump’s victory increased the likelihood of the outgoing administration backing a Palestine-related resolution at the United Nations Security Council.” [ToI] Video [Facebook]
Ron Prosor tells the NYTimes: “Ron Prosor, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, said a Trump victory spelled “the end of political correctness” — long viewed by Israel as a diplomatic bugbear in its dealings with the world over the Palestinian issue. Mr. Prosor also seemed satisfied that there would be “no free lunches” for Iran under a Trump presidency, and that Iran would be called to account for any violations of the nuclear accord, which the Israeli government vehemently opposed.” [NYTimes]
Israeli Right hails Trump: ‘The era of a Palestinian state is over’: “Education Minister Naftali Bennett said “the era of a Palestinian state is over. Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause. This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple,” he wrote. Speaking in the Knesset plenum, Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) gave his congratulations to Trump on Wednesday morning: “I am confident that the longstanding friendship and alliance between the United States and Israel will remain strong during Mr. Trump’s term in office,” he said… Edelstein gave his address in English, an irregular step for Israeli politicians speaking in the Knesset.” [JPost]
“Inside Trump’s Stunning Upset Victory ” by Alex Isenstadt, Eli Stokols, Shane Goldmacher and Ken Vogel: “Inside Trump Tower, Trump’s children and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, were losing patience with Lewandowski, who seemed to be devoting the bulk of his time to undermining Manafort. .. Manafort, meanwhile, was having problems of his own… He had also been losing the confidence of Trump’s family, especially Kushner, who by now was gaining influence in the campaign. “Paul’s losing his edge,” Kushner told a fellow aide one day. On Aug. 19, Manafort abruptly announced his resignation. And that’s when the campaign started to turn around for Trump.” [Politico]
EXIT POLL: Hillary got 71 percent of the Jewish vote to Trump’s 24 percent [NYTimes] In New York’s 48th Assembly District (Borough Park), Trump got 69 percent of the vote, while Hillary got 27 percent, according to unofficial results. As many as 524 people chose a write-in candidate after Assemblyman Dov Hikind urged voters to write in Paul Ryan for president.
“Trump Supporters Over the Moon at Campaign Party as Republicans Stun the World” by Danna Harman: “I was told by the Republicans in Israel that I should just come here and they would let me in,” he explained. “And I felt we needed a big Israel flag because Trump is great for Israel too,” he explained. “Your Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu loves Trump because he is strong, and he understands that is what is needed in this world today,” Michael Klamen, a jeweler from Florida offered, upon seeing the flag.” [Haaretz]
“This Orthodox Jewish immigrant dedicated his vote to a slain Muslim American soldier” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “An Orthodox Jewish immigrant’s tweet went viral on Tuesday after he posted a photo of himself with his ballot next to a photo of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American soldier who was killed in 2004 while serving in Iraq. Yosef Rapaport, who does independent media consulting, said that he woke up on Election Day and decided to dedicate his vote to Khan. “I would probably not agree politically with Capt. Khan if he met me and we talked about world affairs,” Rapaport said. “I don’t know. I can’t be sure. That doesn’t diminish one iota the deep respect I have for him and his family for what they did for America. We owe them our deepest respect.” Rapaport declined to say who he voted for, but he said leans left.” [WashPost]
Peter Beinart: “I Still Love America. But, After Trump’s Victory, I Don’t Trust It: I’ve never felt less American and more Jewish. As an American, a white one, I’ve always felt safe. I’ve always assumed my country would be stable… As an American, I’m totally unprepared… I’m not leaving America. It’s my country. I have to fight – every American Jew has to fight – to protect the American Muslims who right now must be terrified beyond belief. I have to fight the dozens of American Nazis who have descended on my Twitter feed to celebrate their victory. I still love America to my core. But I don’t trust it in the same way.” [Haaretz]
TRENDING READ: “An American Tragedy” by David Remnick: “Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.” [NewYorker]
“How the stampede for big money enabled Donald Trump’s rise” by Matea Gold: “This cycle was a good illustration that money is one tool that impacts public opinion, but the media have a larger megaphone than any campaign is able to buy — and candidates and the dynamics of the field matter,” said Charlie Spies, a Republican campaign finance lawyer who served as counsel for Bush’s super PAC.”[WashPost]
“Schumer, as expected, to run for Democratic leader” by Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan: “Schumer will be the first Jewish party leader in the Senate and the first New Yorker to serve as Democratic leader. Schumer won a landslide victory to a fourth term and will lead his party alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who intends to seek the GOP leader job next week regardless of who controls the Senate.” [Politico]
“Republican Eric Greitens next Missouri governor” by Kurt Erickson: “Greitens, a Maryland Heights native and 1992 graduate of Parkway North High School, becomes Missouri’s first Jewish governor.” [STLToday] • RJC: “We are proud to have a Jewish Republican leading the great state of Missouri. Awesome job Eric Greitens! [Twitter]
“Controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio loses” by Theodore Schleifer: “Arpaio called himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and was known for his tough stance on immigration in the border state.”[CNN] • George Soros spent $2M to defeat Arpaio [Twitter]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Icahn Doubles Down on Hertz as Missed Earnings Punish Stock [Bloomberg]• MyHeritage launches DNA testing service to help you uncover your family’s history [TechCrunch]• Seen At 11: Israeli ‘OrCam’ Brings Back Quality Of Life For Many Suffering From Loss Of Vision[CBSLocal]
BIRTHDAYS: British businessman and philanthropist, formerly Chairman of Lloyds TSB a major UK bank, Sir Maurice Victor Blank turns 74… Political consultant and fundraiser, founded “No Labels” in 2010 to solve problems across the partisan divide, Nancy Jacobson turns 54… Senior producer at NBC Nightly News, Joel Seidman… British Conservative politician and businessman, David Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Sunningdale, turns 81… Founding Executive Director of OneTable, Aliza Klein… Chairman and CEO of Los Angeles public affairs firm Cerrell Associates, Hal Dash… Executive Director at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Samara Hutman…