The days of Israel bashing are over,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said to cheering thousands at the AIPAC Policy Conference last week. And amid the smiling faces of those celebrating her words, there were many who exhaled in relief.
There clearly is a new sheriff guarding U.S. and Israel interests at the United Nations.
Haley is one of the few in the Trump administration who hit the ground running, with clear goals and quick achievements. In short order she helped kill a U.N. report accusing Israel of apartheid. She offered rhetorical support, criticizing the global body for its “bias against our close ally Israel.” And she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the U.N.’s envoy to Libya.
Although Fayyad, a Western-educated economist, worked constructively as prime minister, Haley saw his appointment as an unearned bone thrown to the Palestinians. “For too long, the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said. “Going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”
And she has shown that she can do just that.
In case you are wondering why the former governor of South Carolina was the hit of AIPAC, consider another of her crowd pleasing lines: “I wear heels. It’s not as a fashion statement,” she said. “It’s because if we see something wrong we’re gonna kick ’em every single time.” The crowd loved it.
Like many of the Republican speakers at the conference, she also criticized the Obama administration and its policies. Of the Iran deal, she said: “Why that was ever allowed to go through, why that was ever passed is beyond me. I mean, it’s terrible.” She also vowed that passage of another anti-Israel resolution like the one that President Obama refused to veto in the U.N. Security Council — it blamed Israel’s settlement enterprise for the failure to achieve peace in the region — would never happen on her watch. In her words: “You’re not going to take our No. 1 democratic friend in the Middle East and beat up on them.”
Haley’s support seems genuine, as does her star power. We welcome such a force of nature representing America’s interests at the United Nations, as we do her unabashed support of the Jewish state. Already, some are predicting a presidential run by her in 2020 or 2024. While such speculation is of very little value, the job she’s doing at the United Nations is already refreshing for a pro-Israel community that has been on the defensive the last several years.
But as much good as there has been, it is important to remember that Haley has only been at her new job for less than 100 days.
Only time will tell whether her forceful rhetoric can help effect meaningful and lasting change at the dysfunctional world deliberative body.