Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, a former ambassador and governor, speaks at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit on July 17, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Nikki Haley for President.
by Mike Wagenheim
(JNS) — Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, took to the stage on July 17 at the annual Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington. The former governor of South Carolina played to an adoring, pro-Israel crowd as a darling of its movement.
Haley, who trails well behind former President Donald Trump in polls very early in the presidential primary cycle, spoke with reporters before assuming the stage. She seemed prepped for a foreign-policy debate, covering an array of issues from China to Russia and, of course, Israel.
Haley dug into U.S. President Joe Biden for his slow-rolled invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Biden only extended in a phone call on July 17 — more than six months after Netanyahu was re-elected.
“It’s about time. I mean, look how long it’s taken here,” Haley told reporters. “You have a friend and ally that shares the same values. We share the same enemies. And yet you refuse to ask him to come for the longest time.”
“Now, suddenly, you want to talk to him. I mean, it’s Joe Biden. He’s acting just like Obama did when it comes to Netanyahu,” Haley continued. “Now you see him wanting to criticize the judicial reforms in Israel. He needs to stay out of it.”
The Biden administration is “very preachy to Israel,” and the president “always wants to talk down, like they should listen to us,” Haley said.
She intimated that Biden is missing the forest for the trees. When Israel is safe and strong, the United States is safer, she said. “We need to start treating them like the ally that they are.”
‘Antisemitism is hate’
Haley also rapped congressional Democratic leaders for failing to take to task a handful of hard-left House members who are boycotting Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s speech to Congress on July 19. The boycotters, in part, have claimed that Israel is racist.
“Antisemitism is hate. Antisemitism needs to be treated exactly like racism,” Haley said. “It used to be that Republicans and Democrats were both pro-Israel. It used to be that Republicans and Democrats both defied racism. But you’re not seeing that anymore.”
She equated a lack of action on this issue with a de facto endorsement of the progressives’ behavior.
“The Democratic Party owes us an answer on this,” Haley said. “They cannot continue to spew this hate. Not when antisemitism is hitting the levels that it is today.”
“We should never tolerate it, and they always treat antisemitism differently than racism. They shouldn’t,” Haley said. “It’s just as evil, and they need to start calling it out.”
The same goes for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) calling to account Republicans who take part in antisemitic activity, according to Haley.
According to polls, Trump maintains a very solid lead in the Republican primary in a crowded, diverse field. But the former president’s legal woes and what many view as negative baggage could make for a volatile campaign, potentially allowing another candidate to break through.
Of the value of her pro-Israel bona fides to the Democratic-leaning American Jewish electorate in a general election, Haley said he hopes that “everyone will remember what a good friend I was to Israel, and realize that I’ve never let up on that.”
“I will continue to be the most pro-Israel candidate that is running for president,” she stated.
Being pro-Israel isn’t about political expediency to Haley, the candidate said.
“I believe it,” she said. “In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do. I know that we need to make sure that they never think anything less of the United States but as their absolute best friend, and I will ensure that that happens.”
A media analysis of Haley’s donors shows high levels of giving from prominent Jews, and her inner-campaign circle features several Jews. JNS asked Haley why Jewish donors have flocked to her, and why she surrounds herself with so many Jewish consultants.
“I would like to think they trust me,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s what you want, is for people to trust you. You want them to feel like they know exactly what to expect from you. With the Jewish people, I’ve always fought really hard in support of the pro-Israel community.”
She added that she would “like to think that they just feel like this is a strong bond and relationship. And I hope that they’ll continue to strengthen. And I hope they know that I’m going to continue to fight for the things they care about.”
‘All they’ve done is tried to weaken sanctions’
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has failed to launch an investigation into the origins of drones, with which Russia is attacking Ukrainian civilians. The United States and other Western allies, including the three European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, say the evidence points to the drones being manufactured and supplied by Iran, in violation of the accord.
JNS asked Haley to comment on the lack of investigation from the global body — a familiar target of hers.
“The United Nations refuses to acknowledge Iran for being the terrorists that they are,” Haley said. “This regime was not following resolutions when I was there. This regime continues to export oil with the help of Biden. This regime continues to fund and fuel terrorists. This regime continues to work on building a nuclear bomb.”
Meanwhile, she said, U.N. leadership remains silent on the issue.
“That’s the reason Iran has gotten away with so much. All they’ve done is tried to weaken sanctions with the help of Joe Biden, weaken how much is said to Iran with the help of Joe Biden, and now, Joe Biden wants to further chat with Iran,” she said.
“You can’t work with people who say ‘Death to America. Death to Israel’,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”