JERUSALEM—Nikki Haley has been visiting Israel for the past week.
Having landed last Thursday, she has been meeting with senior Israeli government officials, including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and new Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
The former Republican governor of South Carolina and former ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration met with IDF soldiers near Gaza, toured an Iron Dome site, prayed at the Western Wall and met with David Friedman, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel, among others.
And Haley is not alone.
She has been traveling with Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United For Israel, the largest Christian Zionist organization in the U.S. with 10 million members.
Haley is also the latest in a steady stream of high-profile Republican political figures in recent weeks who have visited Israel since the end of the COVID pandemic crisis here, and the end of the Gaza war in which more than 4,300 rockets were fired at Israel.
So far, the list includes:
Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee
Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana
ALL ISRAEL NEWS has learned that former Vice President Mike Pence is also planning a visit to Israel later this year.
Most of these are actively considering a run for the GOP nomination in 2024, and other major Republicans are looking at coming, as well.
That’s why a recent article in the Jewish Insider was headlined: “For GOP hopefuls, Israel is the new Iowa. Recent travel to Israel by several 2024 hopefuls is turning the Jewish state into a must-visit campaign stop.”
It was a clever headline, and true.
Indeed, Bob Vander Plaats – president of The Family Leader, the foremost conservative and Evangelical grassroots organization in Iowa, as well as a founding member of the ALL ISRAEL NEWS Advisory Board – believes that any serious GOP presidential contender needs to not only visit Iowa repeatedly, but Israel, as well.
“It only makes sense that, internationally, Israel is the new Iowa to presidential hopefuls,” Vander Plaats told me.
“If presidential candidates have a firm understanding of the necessary alliance between Israel and America, they will most likely get a lot of other things right when it comes to national security and global leadership,” he noted. “That said, if it is clear they don’t understand, or if they are politically nuanced when it comes to Israel, their leadership on all things international as it relates to global peace and America’s security should be questioned.”
“What Ambassador Haley, Sen. Cruz, Secretary Pompeo and others understand is their visit to Israel won’t stay in Israel,” Vander Plaats added. “Iowa and crucial Caucus voters will take note, along with a growing Evangelical base in all key primary states, that will eventually determine presidential nominees and, ultimately, who gets elected president of the United States.”
Elliott Abrams, who served in various diplomatic roles in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Trump, told the Jewish Insider, “I think for Republicans in particular, visiting Israel and being supportive of Israel has now become a requirement.”
Jewish Insider noted that it had reached out to numerous Republicans “who are considered to be potential 2024 contenders to see whether any of them have plans to visit Israel in the near future.”
Others, like “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told JI that they have no such plans” at the moment “though all of them have traveled to Israel in the past.”
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.