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2018 Annual Assessment

In the relationship triangle between Jerusalem, Washington, and American Jewry, a lack of balance was exposed this past year between two of the sides – with Jerusalem at their apex. The Jerusalem – American Jewry side was strained by tensions and problems. Contrasting with this, the Jerusalem – Washington intergovernmental relationship side was characterized by unprecedented support and cooperation. (However, Israel’s relationship to the Democratic side of the American political map has been problematic, as will be discussed below.)

Safeguarding the strength of the “triangle,” a crucial and ongoing challenge for every Israeli government demands preserving both America’s support for Israel and American Jewry’s bond with, and affection for, Israel. Ignoring the changing trends taking place in American society generally, and within the Jewish community there in particular, is liable to gnaw at the strength of the “triangle” and the necessary balance between its constituent sides. The same negative effect may be the result of underestimating the risks involved in exercising power and influence in the United States.

The special relationship between Israel and the United States is traditionally rooted in shared interests, values, and ethos: freedom, equality before the law, democracy, human rights, fair treatment for minorities, rejecting racism, pioneering spirit, entrepreneurship, and a long history of political, security, economic, and scientific cooperation. In addition to all these characteristics of the two states special relationship exist a unique factor: – the American Jewry.

The American Jewish community – nearly half of the Jewish people – has prestige, status, and influence in the United States in all walks of life: politics, governance, economics, the media, science, academia, culture, society and more. Furthermore, long-standing support for Israel that crosses party lines has always rested on the strength of the American Jewish community, whose status and achievements have also had a positive impact on the friendship and respect Americans feel for Israel. The extraordinary U.S. support Israel has received in the defense, economic, and political spheres as well, as the far-reaching network of relationships that Israel has developed in the country over the years, relies to a large extent on the strength of the Jewish community. The Jerusalem-Washington-American Jewry triangular relationship constitutes, therefore, a strategic resource and vital force multiplier of Israeli strength and that of the Jewish people.