Special interview:
Former US ambassador's Chief of Staff: It was a love affair with Israel

Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone speaks with Arutz Sheva about his term in Israel. 'This relationship is like a ramp. It either goes up or down.'

Yoni Kempinski ,

Aryeh Lightstone and David Friedman
Aryeh Lightstone and David Friedman
Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, the former chief of staff of the United States Ambassador to Israel, spoke to Arutz Sheva to summarize his term in Israel.

“It’s bittersweet,” he says of his departure. “You leave knowing you’ve done so much, but knowing that there’s so much left to do. It was a love affair - we have so much in common, and our fates are so intertwined,” Rabbi Lightstone stated.

We ask him if the connection was true Friendship. “If someone is not unabashedly pro-Israel, you need to question their Pro-American bona fides as well", Lighstone explains, "Every decision that’s been made for this region has been from an American point of view. We can still disagree with Israel, question Israel, disapprove of Israel - we do so with all of our allies - but it has been in the American interest to be pro-Israel. Every chance we have to strengthen this relationship has proved to be a win-win”.

Lightstone expresses concern that the Biden Administration would not be as pro-Israel as the Trump Administration was. “This relationship is like a ramp - if it isn’t being advanced upwards, it’s deteriorating downwards. We never stopped or leveled out, never said ‘We’ve done enough’. I encourage the next administration not to stop either. I am worried by the change of administration, if only because the matter is now out of my hands."

Aryeh Lightstone
Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Describing the construction of the Trump Administration's peace plan, LIghstone states: "The plan for peace was a complex one, and since it has been revealed it has been the subject of hope, conversation, and some confusion. Like the issue it addresses, it’s a complex matter, and was, ultimately, not affected. Israel is a sovereign nation that an make its own decisions, and the main decision that was made on sovereignty was not to allow the Palestinian people to veto progress in the region."

The former chief of staff praises the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements which the Trump Administration brokered between Israel and four Arab states in the last half year of its term. “The Abraham Accords have provided unprecedented progress in the region. We’ve been asked if there are other countries waiting in line, and if the accords will be used by the next administration. Peace isn’t a partisan matter, it’s a matter for mankind. The simplest answer is that every country is in line - the American people will embrace anyone running towards peace."

Lightstone speaks against journalists who exposed information regarding peace talks and by doing so harmed the process. “I wish that the Israeli media would begin to ask themselves - will this forward the cause of peace?", he says.

In wake of the Abraham Accords, Lighstone has a message to Israelis visiting in the Arab countries: "Travelers as well, must begin to understand that they are the ambassadors of their country to the world, and to act with the requisite dignity.

Aryeh Lighstone concludes by saying: “I wish the entire country of Israel health, security, and continued friendship with the greatest country in the world”.

Aryeh Lightstone and David Friedman at the Western Wall
Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Jerusalem



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