As America marks the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, we will be remembering one of our country’s greatest leaders with speeches, tributes and television specials. Friends of Israel will have a special reason to celebrate: Reagan made the Republican Party into the unambiguously pro-Israel party that it is today.
Indeed, before the Reagan era, the Republican Party had a decidedly mixed record on Israel. In the 1940s and early 1950s, the conservative movement had strong isolationist and even anti-Semitic tendencies. Later, Republican presidents, such as Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon — while by no means isolationists — had complicated relations with the Jewish state. Eisenhower forced Israel to return the Sinai to Egypt after capturing it in 1956. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Nixon wasted precious days before finally re-supplying a tapped out Israel with arms.
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