Although she came to Temple Beth El of Somerset to speak about the Israeli view of the American presidential election, an Israeli-American radio broadcaster and tour guide also criticized the aid package signed just four days earlier between the United States and Israel.
“I don’t think Israel should take the aid,” Eve Harow said, calling it “a smack upside the head” in light of all Israel provides the United States in terms of security and intelligence.
During her Sept. 18 talk, cosponsored by the temple’s sisterhood, men’s club, and Hazak senior group, Harow said that no matter the outcome of the election, “Israel is hoping for the best for the United States, our best friend.” But it is because of that friendship, she said, that she was going “out on a creaky limb” with her “renegade opinion” and criticizing the record deal that has the United States providing $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the next decade.
“One of the reasons there has not been another 9/11 is because of Israeli intelligence,” said Harow to a crowd of more than 130. “It bothers me that we are treated like a banana country when we are a full ally of the U.S.”
The memorandum of understanding includes $5 billion for missile defense, additional F-35 joint strike fighters, and increased mobility for Israeli ground forces. But it also limits the amount of the aid that Israel can spend on purchases from its own defense industry.
And it requires that some of the aid be spent on defense systems in the United States, said Harow, which contributes to the perception that Israel is unable to make decisions regarding its own defense and needs the protection of the United States.
Along those same lines, Harow said, the United States overstepped its bounds when it criticized Israeli plans to build in the Gilo section of east Jerusalem, an Arab area captured by Israel during the Six-Day War.
“I think there has to be a little more respect for the Israeli voter,” she said. “We know our realities. We understand the issues in our country. We live it. People don’t necessarily see our reality from other parts of the world, so give us the respect to be able to set our own policy. We should be able to build apartments in our own capital.”
On Sept. 21 the Jerusalem municipality postponed a meeting during which the building projects were expected to be approved just hours ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in New York.
“I do understand that America loves Israel,” Harow said. “But sometimes it comes with conditions that are not necessarily good for us.”
Harow is host of Rejuvenation with Eve Harow on The Land of Israel Radio Network. She is also the tourism director for the One Israel Fund and on the boards of Ariel University and of Presspectiva, the Israel affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
Turning to the U.S. elections, Harow said Israelis are “just as confused and befuddled as anyone here” by the choices and tenor of the presidential campaign, but remain optimistic that whatever the outcome, the new administration will remain a friend of Israel. The Israeli public seems to be split evenly between Trump and Clinton, with more left-of-center areas like Tel Aviv leaning toward Clinton and settler communities in Judea and Samaria tending to support the Republican.
Harow, a Los Angeles native who has kept her American citizenship since making aliya in 1988 — she is still her eligible to vote in the United States — lives in Efrat on the West Bank, where she is a former councilwoman.
“Israeli-Americans are not a monolithic bloc,” said Harow, who declined to give her own political preference. “People have different priorities.”
Aside from the two nominated candidates, Harow said, Israelis were riveted by the Bernie Sanders phenomenon. While Israel had a successful flirtation with socialism through the kibbutz movement during its nation-building years as people worked together for the greater good, Harow said, enthusiasm has waned, particularly among younger generations.
“The world has changed and people want to do their own thing,” she said. “To see a serious candidate in the Unites States promoting socialism and gaining so much support among young people here was really, really fascinating to us.”