These are good times for the pro-Israel community. In the White House sits a U.S. president who is fulfilling his promises to the Jewish state, and has reversed decades of policy by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announcing that the U.S. embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a few months. It appears that the rancor of previous years — or of every year since Israel’s independence in 1948 — is gone.
So when thousands in the pro-Israel community gather in Washington from March 4 to 6 for the AIPAC Policy Conference, there will be a lot to celebrate. Israel’s security relationship with its Arab neighbors is growing stronger, while the Iran nuclear deal continues to hold. The latter allows Israel use of its conventional superiority to contend with threats from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah without the threat of nuclear annihilation.
On the Palestinian front, the lack of a peace deal is nevertheless worrying. But it is promising that this country has seemingly lost patience for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — who was just in Baltimore for medical treatment — and his Palestinian Authority’s policy of spouting words without backing them up with action. We only hope that some avenue toward a negotiated peace agreement can be found. Today, rather than keep Israel at arm’s length, Washington is open about its sympathy for Israel and its warmth for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As if to emphasize the comity, the U.S. Ambassador David Friedman is a prominent supporter of Israel’s settlement movement, one of the chief causes of Netanyahu’s coalition.
Despite talk of the possibility of future Israeli concessions on the peace front when a U.S. peace plan finally surfaces, for the moment there is no daylight between the United States and the Jewish state. Reflective of that reality, Friedman will address the AIPAC conference. So will Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who became the star of last year’s gathering when she declared, “The days of Israel-bashing are over.”
For the first time since 2015, Netanyahu — who famously butted heads with then-President Barack Obama over the Iran deal — will address AIPAC in person, during a Washington visit when he and President Donald Trump will meet. That reception will be a welcome relief for the prime minister, who is contending with a serious corruption scandal back home.
That last reality leaves open the question whether the resounding bilateral friendship on perhaps the greatest display since Israel’s founding will continue during a successor Israeli premiership. We have good reason to think so.
As the year-after-year growth of Policy Conference participation has shown, America’s embrace of Israel is deep, wide and strong. Much of the credit for that belongs to AIPAC and its leadership, which has tirelessly cultivated relationships focused upon a single, overarching issue — the value, importance and mutual benefits of the America-Israel relationship. For all of these reasons, the entire pro-Israel community has a lot to celebrate.