Will the New U.S. Ambassador do the Right Thing?

It’s true. President Joe Biden has finally appointed a United States ambassador to Israel. Thomas Nides, the newly-appointed ambassador, was the deputy Secretary of State 2010-2013.  During this time, he formed relationships with several Israeli officials and also played a fundamental role in the Obama administration’s approval of extending loan guarantees for Israel, worth billions of dollars.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Gilad Erdan, said:

“I look forward to working with him to further the special relations between Israel and the United States and enhancing our cooperation on the many issues at hand: expanding the circle of peace in the Middle East, Israeli-US partnership on the fight against climate change and COVID-19 and countering the growing threat of antisemitism around the world.”

While it seems like Thomas Nides could be supportive of the Israeli cause, let’s look into some of his past actions toward Israel and see if he has always acted rightly in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

First of all, Thomas Nides helped former President Barack Obama fight congressional efforts to limit U.S. support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA); and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Why is this wrong? Because UNRWA is corrupt to its very core.

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, tweeted in regards to them:

“Of the more than five million people identified as “Palestinian refugees” by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, fewer than 200,000 meet the criteria for refugee status.”

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Strategies said:

“UNRWA has been accused by Israel and independent researchers of employing Hamas members and using antisemitic textbooks. Rockets have also been found hidden at UNRWA schools on several occasions. And excessive business-class travel probably didn’t sit well with donors who have been showered with stories about the dire state of UNRWA’s finances.”

In September of 2018, former President Donald Trump made a bold move and cut all US funding to UNRWA. 

According to The Times of Israel, ​​Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, wrote in his book Ally that Nides had argued passionately against congressional efforts to defund UNESCO, even after the body admitted Palestine as a member state. When Michael Oren asked him why he supported UNESCO, it seems the discussion got heated and Thomas Nides lashed out against him. Around the same time, Israel completely cut funding to UNESCO.

To be fair to the new ambassador, he recently stated that Israel’s Iron Dome is a U.S. national security interest. According to the Jerusalem Post, he said,

“This is a defensive mechanism. It is to stop rockets from raining on Israel. We are supportive of the replenishment and it is in our national security interest.”

Also the Jerusalem Post stated that “Nides vowed to support the Abraham Accords, to oppose BDS, and to continue ‘advancing the bonds between our people,’ including the Visa Waiver Program.” He also said that from the U.S. perspective, Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. 

Nides said, however, that he does support the reopening of the Jerusalem General Consulate, which had acted as an embassy to the Palestinian Authority until it was closed by the Trump administration in 2019. Biden has pledged to reopen it but has not yet set a date. 

The left-wing organization, J Street, voiced their support for Thomas Nides in June saying that they “believe that Nides has the necessary experience. We congratulate him and his family on this honor and look forward to working together with the ambassador to advance common goals of strengthening Israel’s democracy, protecting Palestinian rights and promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

APN (Americans for Peace Now) have also stated that they support the nomination of Thomas Nides and that they look forward to working with him. 

Though it seems like Thomas Nides could be a good choice for Israel, we have yet to see if he will continue his record of both Palestinian and Israeli support. Will Thomas Nides do the right thing in regards to Israel, or will he succumb to the pressure of the Biden administration?  Let’s pray that the new ambassador will be true to his word and continue “opposing the BDS movement and advancing the bonds between our people.”  

About the author

Justin Hilton is from Virginia Beach, VA and has lived almost full time in Israel since 2016. He works for HaYovel and The Israel Guys as Studio Producer and Content Manager. He is also an article author, photographer and customer support representative. Once a week, he hosts a show on The Israel Guys network.

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