Israel Needs to Watch Biden’s UN Pick
US President-elect Joe Biden reflects the orthodoxy of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He is a committed, enthusiastic proponent of this idea as a way forward in the Middle East.
There is a competing political paradigm – “racial-justice politics” – that has gained, if not dominance, at the very least great influence with liberal and left-wing thinkers in America. This new politics, with its ideological base anchored in postmodernism and neo-Marxism, is powered by intersectionality and identity politics.
Inside the Democratic Party, it has garnered considerable authority and leverage. It has also made its way into mainstream American culture: From Hollywood to Twitter and Facebook, it is simply swimming in the American social and cultural mainstream.
Racial-justice politics has a particular Israel problem, and its Israel problem is expressed openly. It presents Israel through an ideological prism, arguing that it is a colonial enterprise, an outpost of Western imperialism in an overwhelmingly Muslim Middle East.
The prominence of the new political paradigm presents a difficult problem for President-elect Biden. Historically, he has rejected this reference system. But as president, he will feel intense pressure to please his left wing and gratify its convictions about Israel.
The prominence of the new political paradigm presents a difficult problem for President-elect Biden. Historically, he has rejected this reference system. But as president, he will feel intense pressure to please his left wing and gratify its convictions about Israel
The question for Israel and today’s Israeli leaders is how well a President Biden manages the pressure coming from adherents of the new politics.
As the Democratic Party’s nominee, he was successful in rebuffing the new-politics radicals who wanted an anti-Israel statement in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform. His two-state views prevailed, and the platform calls for the creation of a “viable” Palestinian state and explicitly opposes “unilateral action” from either side.
The UN will be a significant test as to how well he continues to juggle the demands of the new politics, for the person President Biden appoints as ambassador will give us a clue.
If he were to appoint say, former two-term mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, a popular, highly regarded and nationally prominent Latino leader, the news would be extremely well received in Israel. Villaraigosa knows Israel and is an outspoken friend.
A good choice for Biden. Works for Israel.
A good choice for Biden. Works for Israel
But what if Biden were to choose Pete Buttigieg? The first gay UN ambassador checks some boxes.
Israeli leaders might find Mayor Pete credible. Buttigieg has been to Israel a number of times. In the past, he spoke favorably about the Jewish state. During the campaign, he became wobbly, striking out at Bibi.
But still, he’d likely be satisfactory. Good for Biden. Okay for Israel.
Or, Biden could choose Susan Rice or, say, Stacey Abrams. That would send a negative signal.
How well will a President Biden stand up to the radical pressure? Keep an eye on what happens with the UN appointment.