Biden’s choice of Blinken shows ties to Israel, American Jews

By choosing Antony J. Blinken to serve as America’s 71st secretary of state, President-elect Joe Biden has underscored his strong support for Israel and his deep ties to America’s Jewish community.
Blinken, 58, is the stepson of a Holocaust survivor and grandson of a refugee from Russian pogroms.
Appearing with Biden at a Wilmington, Delaware, news conference, Blinken pointed to the clear impact that his heritage has had upon him.
“For my family, as for so many generations of Americans, America has literally been the last best hope on earth. My grandfather, Maurice Blinken, fled pogroms in Russia and made a new life in America. His son, my father Donald Blinken, served in the Air Force during World War II and then as a U.S. ambassador. He is my role model and hero,” Blinken said.
He noted that his mother’s second husband was a Holocaust survivor, renowned author and memoirist.
“And my late stepfather, Samuel Pisar, was one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps.
“At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the Bavarian woods. From his hiding place, he heard the rumbling sound of a tank. Instead of an Iron Cross (on the tank), he saw a five-pointed white star. He ran to the tank. The hatch opened. An African-American GI looked down at him. He fell to his knees and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him. God Bless America. The GI lifted him into the tank, into America, into freedom. That’s who we are.”
Blinken has served as one of Biden’s closest foreign policy advisers. When Biden chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Blinken served as the committee’s staff director. He was a member of the Obama-Biden presidential transition team from November 2008 until Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009. In the first Obama administration, Blinken served as deputy assistant to the president and as national security advisor to Vice President Biden. His service in those roles continued in the second Obama administration, until President Obama appointed him to be deputy secretary of state in 2015.
Former key Israeli officials have praised Biden’s selection of Blinken as secretary of state.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Blinken is “a great diplomat and true friend of Israel.”
“I had the honor and pleasure of working with him for years in Washington and know him to be (a) brave and clear-sighted statesman. I can think of no finer choice,” Oren said in a tweet.
Israel’s former Foreign Ministry director-general, Dore Gold, met with Blinken at the State Department in 2016. Gold said he was “impressed with him and found him to be very professional and a good listener.”
Gold added, “I didn’t detect any kind of anti-Israel undertone. To the contrary, he was very open. The meeting was an eye-opener. We saw he was a really good guy.”
The Jerusalem Post quoted Gold as saying that Blinken’s attitude toward Israel differed from some in the Obama administration who were “simply difficult” to work with on critical issues.
After his meeting with Gold in 2016, Blinken tweeted that “In (the) face of unprecedented regional threats, (I) affirmed (the United States’) ironclad support for (Israeli) security with Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold.”
Former Israeli National Security Advisor Jacob Nagel said Biden’s decision to appoint Blinken was an “excellent appointment.”
Clearly, the Biden State Department will conduct foreign policy in a much different manner than the Trump administration. President-elect Biden has already said that the United States will rejoin the Paris Climate Accords. It is also anticipated that as America’s 46th president, Biden will endeavor to rejoin the Iran nuclear pact. Yet, none of this will be accomplished without diplomacy. As secretary of state, Blinken will be President Biden’s highest foreign policy officer. Whether or not tensions between Iran and Israel can be relaxed remains to be seen.
Antony Blinken clearly has the experience and gravitas to implement President-elect Biden’s foreign policy, which will include maintaining the United States’ irrevocable commitment to Israel’s security.
The entire American Jewish community can take pride in Blinken’s appointment. Through his keen intellect, his extensive experience and the great confidence that President-elect Biden has in him, Tony Blinken’s service as America’s 71st secretary of state promises to be of critical import in assisting and advising President-elect Biden in the next chapter of the American experience.
This editorial appeared in the Dec. 3 edition of the Jewish Herald Voice and is reprinted with permission.

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