By Miriam Adelson, Israel Hayom via JNS
In a special interview at the “Israel Hayom” Forum for U.S.-Israel Relations, held in Jerusalem recently, Dr. Miriam Adelson sat down with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
During Haley’s time representing the United States at the international forum, she was a staunch defender of Israel and did not hesitate to call out the world body for its entrenched anti-Israel bias.
In 2018, Haley declared fearlessly that she would use her high heels to “kick” the enemies of the Jewish state.
After introducing Haley as Israel’s real-life “Wonder Woman,” said Adelson. “Throughout her service, Nikki has demonstrated moral clarity and courage. She put the fear of God into a godforsaken place. She stood up to bullies and called out hypocrites.”
“Nikki defended Israel, always openly, without hesitation, and often in defiance of other world powers. She did so, I believe, because Israel is good, and she did so because she knows the U.S. is never more credible than when it honors its allies,” Adelson told the forum.
Q: First things first: What shoes are you wearing? High heels? I ask because you once said that you wore heels to the U.N. so you could kick anyone you saw doing the wrong thing. Seriously now, looking back, did that approach work?
A: It was the only approach we could use. You had a situation where there was this organization of 193 countries that were anti-American and anti-Israel, continuing to give us a hard time, but had their hand out for aid. I didn’t want to just be another ambassador. I felt the American people deserved that.
Q: Would you do anything differently?
A: I would not. The truth needed to be said, without any apology.
Q: This is a busy time for U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Just this week, the Trump administration held a conference in Bahrain that was meant to help the Palestinian economy, as part of the U.S. peace plan. The Palestinians did not go to Bahrain. They have already rejected the peace plan, even though they have not seen it. And they are not even talking to the Trump administration. What do you make of this? Is it all a waste of time?
A: Working toward peace is never a waste of time. We should all want peace, should all want a peace plan to be successful. I’ve seen the plan, it’s well-thought-out, detailed, doable. It does things that would improve the lives of the Palestinians, but would not compromise the security of Israel.
The Trump administration has been courageous. We’re not going to beg the Palestinians to come to the peace table, but it says a lot about the P.A. that they wouldn’t want better for their own people. The Palestinians deserve better.
Israel is the one bright spot in a really rough neighborhood.
I think Arab community will see over time that they can’t continue to babysit the Palestinians.
Q: If the Palestinians insist on rejecting the peace deal, what should Israel do? Should it declare that Judea and Samaria are its sovereign territory, like Jerusalem and the Golan Heights?
A: I think we should see how the peace plan plays out. We should be open-minded. Jerusalem was stating a fact. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. No matter what Arab countries were telling their citizens, it’s the truth. The Trump administration said we have all our embassies in capitals. Jerusalem is capital, why would we not have our embassy there?
Now we have to see where the Palestinians are; this is a moment of truth for them. Do they want to continue living they way they are living, or see what opportunity could look like?
Q: Why is Israel mistreated and singled out at the U.N.? Why does the U.N. typically condemn Israel’s response to an attack, rather than the attack itself? Who are the ringleaders, and why do so many countries go along?
A: We won’t allow this to happen anymore; there are too many issues in the Middle East we need to talk about. Over time, you saw other ambassadors start to do that. Arab countries realized after 1967, they’d never defeat Israel. They did all they could, which was to go after Israel in the U.N. Because of their wealth, the oil, they went to all the little countries and said you need to vote with us.
Why should the United States be more responsible for the Palestinians than the Arab world?
Behind closed doors, a lot of those ambassadors respect Israel. There are so many that respect the strength and intelligence of Israel. We allowed them to stand up and not be alone.
My friend and partner, [Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations] Danny Danon was such an amazing ambassador at the U.N.
Q: How can we fight back?
A: We call them out every time. The truth is always worth fighting for. Israel is the one bright spot in a really rough neighborhood. The better and stronger we make Israel, the safer we make the world.
Q: One of your achievements at the U.N. was to expose the lie behind the Palestinian refugee narrative—that the Palestinians count as “refugees” anyone whose parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents were displaced in the 1948 war. Just so we’re clear: What is the true number of Palestinian refugees, as far as the United States is concerned?
A: The number of actual Palestinian refugees is classified. There are multiple people working to get it unclassified. I think we should because it speaks to the truth of that scenario.
We had the right to put the embassy wherever we wanted.
I looked into UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] and the Palestinian refugees. I wanted to find out what they did. What I found was an agency that didn’t want to be told what to do. The way they count refugees is to say any Palestinian anywhere in the world is a refugee. They want to give it [refugee status] for generations going forward. The U.S. has given the Palestinians $6 billion. We’ve done our part. But when we went to UNRWA and said you should reform, they refused.
When they wouldn’t make the reforms we demanded, the president was courageous to say we wouldn’t give any more. Why should we be more responsible for the Palestinians than the Arab world?
Q: Will there be war with Iran?
A: We don’t want war. The president doesn’t want war. Iran is the No. 1 threat we are facing. The Obama administration did not help. They went in thinking they could bring peace, but all they did after bringing in a plane full of money was spread war. Look at Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan. Iran’s tentacles started going everywhere. The [nuclear] deal didn’t work.
The president was right to pull out; the Iranians were still testing ballistic missiles, still selling weapons, still supporting terrorism, and we were giving them money to do it. Defunding them slowed down the nuclear process, but it did not slow down their culture of hate. They’re still saying “Death to Israel,” “Death to America.”
Q: You’re in the private sector, but we hope not for long. Is there any chance that you will announce, here and now, that you plan to run for president in 2024?
A: I think the air in Jerusalem brings clarity. I can say with great clarity that I know I’m too young to stop fighting. But I’m also very much enjoying private life. I will continue to be loud and proud about all the things that are important. 2024 is a long way away, and a year in politics is a lifetime. But I can say with clarity I will never stop fighting.
Q: You always protected Israel.
A: A lot of the strength the U.S. is showing for Israel, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson played a very big part in.
Q: Is there a difference between what country representatives say and do publicly, and what they said to you privately, behind the scenes?
A: A couple of things. When the president issued the strikes on Syria following the chemical weapons attacks, ambassadors reached out and said, “It’s so good to see the U.S. lead again.”
I think the air in Jerusalem brings clarity.
I think we’re starting to see a shift, that countries are realizing we are blessed to have Israel in the Middle East, and even the Arab countries are starting to realize that. You can’t destroy what God has blessed, and Israel is blessed.
Q: One of the iconic images of your time at the U.N. is the photo of you holding up your hand firmly as you voted ‘No,’ and thereby vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that would have condemned America for moving its embassy to Jerusalem. What did that feel like? Why was the fight to move the embassy so difficult at the U.N.?
A: It was one of my proudest moments, that I could issue the veto. They were trying to veto our sovereign right. We had the right to put the embassy wherever we wanted. They were trying to humiliate the United States, and Israel, and in the end we both came out stronger.