WASHINGTON – Presidents Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump all have been friendly to Israel but which one of these Oval Office occupants might be called the first “Jewish President?”
Could it be Truman, who shortly after the establishment of Israel in May 1948, made the decision to recognize the Jewish State against the wishes of the State Department and without consulting Congress?
Could it be Nixon, who in October 1973 ordered an emergency airlift to save the Israeli military from destruction in the face of an unexpected attack from three Arab nations?
What about Reagan, who routinely spoke of shared American-Israeli values and who in the mid-1980’s thwarted an attempt by Congress to cut funding for the Jewish State?
What about Trump, who made the decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and who withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear agreement?
“What a glorious day,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening ceremony of the embassy on Monday. “Remember this moment, this is history. President Trump, by recognizing history, you have made history.”
Trump certainly is glowing in the moment and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) says Trump might be Israel’s best friend.
“The act of recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and then tying that in with dealing with the existential threat to Israel’s existence which is the Iranian threat of a nuclear weapon and you have two of the most treasured and prized acts that Israel has experienced with U.S presidents,” former Coleman said.
Coleman relayed a recent conversation he said he had had with Netanyahu at the Israeli Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem. Coleman said Netanyahu escorted him to the entrance of the cabinet room where two plaques commemorating actions by U.S. presidents on behalf of Israel were on display.
“One of them is [President] Harry Truman’s proclamation recognizing the State of Israel and the other is [President] Donald Trump’s proclamation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Coleman said.
Richard Vatz, who is a professor of political persuasion at Towson University in Maryland, said he agrees that Trump likely has been the most pro-Israel U.S. president.
“President Trump has been succor to the interests of Israel and its new de facto alliances with Gulf states and Middle East states,” Vatz said. “His support of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his moving the United States’ embassy there, in conjunction with his disinclination to put the brakes on Israel’s military responses to attacks on its territory, may make him the strongest presidential supporter of Israel yet.”
Daniel Pipes, a Middle East historian and George W. Bush appointee to the United States Institute of Peace, disagreed.
“I reluctantly pick the antisemite among them, Richard Nixon,” Pipes said. “He is the president who first appreciated Israel as an asset and he provided it with crucial military assistance in its time of need, thereby permanently changing U.S.-Israel strategic relations.”