A leading liberal Zionist New York rabbi says that Donald Trump is already proving to be better for Israel in terms of public relations than President Obama was. Trump is telling US Jews and Israel, “We got your back,” and Obama did not do that, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove of the Park Avenue Synagogue said last night in a panel at his synagogue:
I’m going to say something that does surprise me and will be a gentle criticism of the past administration. I think Ambassador Shapiro, Dan, [Obama’s former ambassador to Israel] made a very compelling case of things being mischaracterized, the strength of the American-Israel relationship under the Obama administration versus how it’s portrayed and characterized. But I think that from the Cairo Speech through the Iran Deal till the very last few days of the UN resolution , the Obama administration suffered from a perception problem with American Jewry. Perception– I’m not saying reality, I’m saying perception– problem.
And I have no idea what one day to the next bodes for the Trump administration on this issue or… on any issue. But what I do think is that out of the gate, and this is the thing that is surprising me that I’m saying it, is that I think Trump is doing a better job in terms of pr. That Israel knows, or at least American Jewry is hearing the message that “We got your back, that we got your back.” That and 50 cents might not get you a cup of coffee, because who knows what actually is going to happen. But if we’re simply saying that style is substance, then there is an argument to be made here–
Former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro leaped in to point out that Obama had upped Israel’s military aid package to $3.8 billion a year for the next ten years, more than half of all US military aid overseas; and that an Israeli cabinet official had said just on Sunday that Israel might not have gotten that money under Trump.
Cosgrove is a liberal Zionist, who is opposed to many of Donald Trump’s initiatives as being opposed to progressive Jewish values. Last night he criticized Trump’s immigration policies and aligned himself with Ferguson, Mo., social justice activists, too; though he criticized the left for siding with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement aimed at Israel.
Myself I regard Cosgrove’s statement as a reflection of It’s-never-enough-for-Israel or its supporters. President Obama himself repeatedly stated that he was behind Israel. Even the UN Security Council resolution abstention happened because the Obama administration deemed stopping settlements as being in Israel’s best interest.