The cartoon in Israel’s popular daily Yediot Acharonot probably sums up the view of most Israelis since Nikki Haley’s announcement Tuesday that she was leaving her position as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Taking up a third of the page, the cartoon by artist Yotam Fiszbein depicts Haley preparing to depart her U.N. office clutching a cardboard box of her belongings. A handyman holds up an Israeli flag and says to her, “Don’t forget your second flag.”
Haley’s announcement at a news conference with President Donald Trump, which was aired live in Israel on Tuesday, immediately drew an outpouring of appreciation for the former South Carolina governor, who has long been seen here as a savior of sorts at an institution accused of harboring a long-term bias against the Jewish state.
“I thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for leading an uncompromising struggle against the hypocrisy at the U.N. and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country. Best of luck!” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a statement.
Later Netanyahu tweeted a photo of himself and Haley: “Thank you Amb. Haley for standing for the truth and exposing hypocrisy at the UN. Just as the people of Israel are grateful for the rock solid support @POTUS Trump has provided Israel in the Oval Office, we are grateful for the rock solid support you’ve provided Israel at the UN.”
Netanyahu, who has long criticized United Nations, calling it a “theater of the absurd,” hailed the U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council in June as a victory for Israel.
“For years, the UNHRC has proven to be a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights,” Netanyahu said after the U.S. withdrawal. “Instead of dealing with regimes that systematically violate human rights, the UNHRC obsessively focuses on Israel, the one genuine democracy in the Middle East.”
It was not the only occasion when Haley appeared to advocate for Israel. She is also believed to have been a major force behind the Trump administration’s decision last month to cut all funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees scattered around the Middle East.
On Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called Haley “a true ambassador” for Israel and an “uncompromising advocate of American policy towards the Middle East and Israel.
“She never wavered in her support for our clear right to maintain the security of our region,” he said. “More than once, by speaking clearly, she tore away the cynical smokescreen that was masking what the United Nations and international organizations were really doing.”
Haley visited Israel only once – in June 2017 – during her tenure as ambassador to the U.N., but she received something of a hero’s welcome during that three-day stay, meeting with an array of Israeli officials and being treated by the Israeli military to a helicopter ride over the blockaded Gaza Strip.
“You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction,” Haley said during her visit to Israel. “If there’s anything I have no patience for it’s bullies, and the U.N. was being such a bully to Israel, because they could,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Israeli army was among those who sent the outgoing ambassador a message. “Thank you @nikkihaley for your service in the @UN and unwavering support for Israel and the truth. The soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces salute you!”
Writing in Israel Hayom on Wednesday, Israel’s representative to the U.N., Danny Danon, said Haley’s time in the international agency marked a “new era” for Israel.
“For years, we had become used to regarding the UN as an institution that contained the lies, distortions, and half-truths spread by the Arab states and our enemies around the world,” he wrote. “It was a period in which the terror machines of Iran, the terrorism of Hamas, and the lies of the Palestinian Authority were revealed to the world and showed the true faces of our enemies.”
But not everyone in Israel was sorry to see her go. Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Arab faction in Israel’s parliament, wrote on Twitter that Haley’s resignation should stand as a warning to the Israeli government: “I know that some will have a hard time believing it, but Trump will not stay here forever either.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Ruth Eglash