Op-ed: U.S.-Israel relations set to improve

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Saturday, December 10, 2016 11:51am
  • Opinion

The consensus in Israel is that the relationship between the Jewish state and the United States is going to improve in a Trump administration, says former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Zalman Shoval.

On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., Shoval told me that he believes Donald Trump and his cabinet picks so far have a more “realistic” view of the Middle East than President Obama, who from his first days in office, “perhaps before, believed it was his calling to fix once and for all, all matters between the U.S. and the Arab and Muslim worlds, as expressed in his Cairo speech. … This gives Trump in the hearts and minds of more than a few Israelis a head-start.”

Shoval said he believes the issue of a Palestinian state — the objective of U.S. foreign policy over several administrations — has become less concerning than the regional and international threat posed by a nuclear Iran. He likes recent statements by secretary of defense-designate Gen. James Mattis about the way forward in dealing with an unstable Iran, believing Mattis recognizes that as important as it is to defeat ISIS, the real threat in the Middle East is Iran.

It’s not only the nuclear deal that bothers Shoval, though he believes Iran will eventually have a bomb, unless it is stopped. It is also bothersome that Iran continues with its terrorist activities, subsidizing anti-American and anti-Israel groups around the world because radical mullahs think their god has ordered them to do so. That makes any kind of diplomatic agreement with nations Iran regards as “infidels” impossible.

Even when the battle for Mosul is over and victory has been declared over that ISIS stronghold, Shoval believes, “what it really will mean is that the Iranians and the Shia are going to be the real victors. They will continue their attempts to build a territorial corridor all the way to the Mediterranean along with Hezbollah, which is not only a threat to Israel, but also something the so-called moderate Arab states look at with a great deal of concern.”

Shoval says he hopes the incoming Trump administration realizes that Iran cannot be a partner with the United States in the Middle East “even if from time to time it seems like that because of what’s happening in Syria. Ultimately, Iran is a great danger.”

People like former President Jimmy Carter have a different worldview. In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, Carter called on President Obama to recognize a Palestinian state before he leaves office. Carter also called on the UN to pass a resolution setting the parameters for “resolving the conflict.”

I believe in miracles, but for the UN, or anyone else, to resolve a conflict in which one side thinks it has a heavenly mandate to destroy the other is not where most people would see as a good starting point for conflict resolution. Carter continues to trade off his one success — the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. But getting one thing right with a unique combination of leaders, one of whom — Anwar Sadat — was assassinated by Islamic fanatics for making peace with Israel, is like an astrologer wanting credit for one prediction that came true while ignoring hundreds that didn’t.

Shoval disagrees with those who think the Israel-Palestinian status quo is not sustainable. He believes it is, otherwise a Palestinian state “would mean Hamas and Hezbollah would be just 20 minutes away” from Jerusalem and in a position to overwhelm Israel.

In his book, “The Field of Fight,” Michael Flynn, Trump’s pick to head the National Security Council, writes about President Obama: “I find it simply incredible that an American president should believe a strategic alliance with Iran to be more attractive than our traditional embrace of Israel. Our new leaders need to reverse that, pronto. We will need Israel if we’re going to defeat the radical Islamists, and above all, the Iranians.”

This is the opposite of wishful thinking.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Session ends with budget, dividend and bills passed

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Listen to PAs; support Senate Bill 115: Modernizing PA Practice in Alaska

Health care is rapidly evolving, demanding a more flexible and responsive system

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Opinion: Hilcorp Alaska: Powering Southcentral Alaska — past, present and future

Hilcorp Alaska has and will continue to fully develop our Cook Inlet basin leasehold

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Juneau Empire file photo
Larry Persily.
Opinion: Alaska might as well embrace the past

The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade

The Alaska State Capitol on March 1. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Physicians oppose Alaska Senate Bill 115 — Independent Practice for PAs

Alaskans don’t want access to just any health care, they want access to high quality care

Norm McDonald is the deputy director of Fire Protection for the Alaska Division of Forestry & Fire Protection. (Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service)
The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
Opinion: This wildfire prevention month, reflect on ways to protect each other and our communities from wildfire

Alaskans saw what happened in Canada last year, and they know it can happen here too