image Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Israel welcomes US Pres. Biden

Leaders across Israel’s political spectrum issued greetings to the 46th President of the United States Joe Biden and the 49th Vice President Kamala Harris immediately upon the taking of their oaths of office in Washington, D.C.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered congratulations to both American leaders on their “historic inauguration” and wished them “the greatest success.”

Describing his relationship with President Biden as “a warm personal friendship going back many decades,” Netanyahu said he is looking forward to “working with you to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance, to continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded his remarks by saying, “God bless the United States of America. God bless Israel.”

Israeli Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “On this important day, I am glad to congratulate President Joe Biden, a great friend of Israel, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, and the entire Biden Administration, as they enter the White House,” adding, “This is a special moment for America, and for the entire world.”

Gantz went on to state his anticipation of working with the incoming administration and “my friends at the Pentagon” to deal with many of the shared US-Israeli goals and challenges, such as “containing Iranian regional aggression and nuclear aspirations, fighting terror organizations and destabilizing forces, expanding normalization and finding a resolution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.”

“I am certain that our strong alliance and mutual commitment will help advance the democratic values we share, making our region more stable and the world more peaceful,” said the Israeli Defense Minister.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed “great pleasure” to send the “very best wishes” on “behalf of the people of Israel” to his American counterpart, Vice President Harris and their families, and all of “the American people on this important day.”

In a letter send to President Biden, the Israeli leader said, “Today, you begin your term of office as leaders of the free world, elected by the world’s greatest democracy. May G-d bless your efforts and crown them with success.”

The remaining text of Rivlin’s letter to Biden is as follows:

“Mr. President, sometimes even the obvious has to be said. The United States of America has no greater friend than the State of Israel and the American people have no greater friend than the Israeli people. Our relationship crosses partisan politics, is rooted in shared values of democracy and freedom, and has the overwhelming support of both our peoples. We have no doubt that under your presidency the United States remains committed to the security and prosperity of Israel.

Our region is undergoing rapid change, much of it positive. The recent peace agreements between Israel and our neighbors bring new hope, and I look forward to working with you to help build further bridges across our region, including with our Palestinian neighbors. I truly believe that we were not doomed to live together, but destined to do so. At the same time, we continue to face the rising threat of Iranian aggression and expansionism, as well as rising anti-Semitism and global terrorism, all of which during the unprecedented global challenge of COVID-19. Only by standing together as allies and as friends can we face these challenges. Only by standing together as allies and friends can we defeat them.

Mr. President, I was pleased to welcome you to Jerusalem as Vice-President, and it is my great honor to invite you to visit us here again as soon as possible as the 46th President of the United States of America.”

The Yesh Atid centrist political opposition party led by Yair Lapid also released a statement wishing “Congratulations and good luck to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,” adding, “We look forward to working with you over the coming years to strengthen the special relationship between our two countries and advance our shared values. ”

The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) echoed these sentiments, offering congratulations and that the lobbying group is looking forward to “working together with the new administration to strengthen and expand the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Many leading American Jewish organizations also issued congratulatory messages.

“The Jewish community could not have a better friend and ally in the White House,” said World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder, and that he hopes to work with the Biden-Harris administration to combat racism, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Goals outlined by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) included the bolstering of the US-Israel alliance, fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate while defending shared democratic values.

Kamala Harris, who is of African American and South Asian descent, is the first woman elected to serve as Vice President.

“It is with great pride and full hearts that today America has a woman in the White House, serving the American people in the second highest office in the land,” read a joint statement from Hadassah and The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, underscoring the need for “civility, cooperation and tolerance” in the move forward.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, who heads the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, commented that it was “especially inspiring to witness Vice President Harris, the first woman of color, take the oath of office.” In reference to Harris’ Jewish husband Doug Emhoff, Rabbi Pesner said “Another barrier has been broken, long overdue, on the way to making the nation more racially equitable. That she is also part of a Jewish family adds even more poignancy.” He also expressed need by the White House to act with “courage, speed, and vision to begin to heal the nation.”

The Democratic Majority for Israel advocacy group extended “heartfelt congratulations to the American people for protecting and preserving our democracy and to President Biden and Vice President Harris,” saying that “Under their leadership, we will be able to address the many challenges facing our nation, unite our country, and restore a moral compass to the White House.”

The Americans for Peace Now organization said the Biden-Harris administration “provides much-needed shining light in a dark era, as our nation struggles with a deadly pandemic that threatens our health, and with domestic terrorism that threatens our democracy.” The group also urged the new US leaders to “take advantage of the renewed trust in American global leadership” to advance “peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors.”