There was one question on the minds of 18,000 AIPAC Policy Conference attendees during Monday night’s plenary in D.C.: Where does the U.S. ambassador to the UN fall in the presidential line of succession? Nikki Haley’s name has been an applause line unto itself for the past two days, and President Donald Trump’s UN envoy is rapidly approaching folk hero status in the pro-Israel world.
It’s easy to understand why she’s so popular. Safely ensconced in New York, Haley has a 200-mile buffer separating her from her boss’s travails in Washington. Pro-Israel liberals uneasy with the current administration—which still describes the majority of the 18,000 people at Policy Conference—can find something to admire in Haley’s opposition to the BDS movement as South Carolina’s governor and her current pro-Israel posture at the UN. Meanwhile, Trump has made few concrete attempts to satisfy pro-Israel conservatives, publicly calling for Prime Minister Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements” and stalling on a campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Haley is the Trump official who has delivered the most tangible results for supporters of Israel so far—last week her office helped kill a UN report accusing the country of apartheid, and there’s talk of pulling the U.S. out of the obsessively anti-Israel Human Rights Council.
The Verizon Center crowd would have given her the biggest cheers of the conference no matter what she said, but she didn’t play it safe during a dialogue with author Dan Senor. She attacked the Iran nuclear deal: “Why that was ever allowed to go through or ever passed is beyond me,” said Haley.
She was the only big-ticket speaker to broach the uncomfortable topic of United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, a problematic measure which the Obama Administration decided not to veto. Haley was happy to rehash a Democratic administration’s alleged betrayal of Israel. “When the U.S. abstained, the entire country felt a kick in the gut,” she said Haley, apparently in reference to the United States. “We had done something that showed the U.S. at its weakest point ever… To see that happen was not only embarrassing. It was hurtful.”
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