Giuliani: Trump Views Israel as Key Partner in Cyber Security Efforts; Wants to Learn From Jewish State’s Expertise
President Donald Trump has instructed his new top cyber-security adviser Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani to lead a fact-finding mission to Israel, the former mayor of New York City and candidate in the Republican Party presidential primaries in 2008, told The Algemeiner in an interview on Wednesday.
Speaking from Tel Aviv, where he is currently on a business trip, Giuliani — who served as an unofficial spokesman for Trump throughout the presidential campaign — said that when he told the newly inaugurated US leader about “the things that are being done” in the Jewish state, the president asked him “to specifically make a trip to Israel to see what the newest advances are here and which ones they’d be willing to share with us.”
Noting that cooperation with Israel would be a central component to his strategy as chairman of the President’s Cyber Defense Committee, Giuliani said, “I’ve been in the cyber area since ’03 and I would say Israel is one of the three or four major centers that you go to for new ideas and new approaches.”
In a few months’ time, Giuliani plans to return to the Jewish state to fulfill the president’s directive. During that trip, he said, he will be “meeting with top cyber experts, and picking a few of them who hopefully wouldn’t mind coming to the US and sharing some of their work with us.”
During his current visit, in addition to his work at Greenberg Traurig — an international law firm with an office in Tel Aviv — Giuliani said he plans to meet with his “old friend” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s ascendancy and with it a new era of US-Israel relations.
Giuliani described the shift in those ties as “dramatic.”
“I think they changed the moment he [Trump] took the oath of office… I think that, once again, Israel has an American president who is an ardent supporter of the state of Israel, a man who respects Israel as a good friend and ally, and as a democracy in an area of the world where there are no democracies,” he said.
As former vice chairman of Trump’s transition team, Giuliani added that he considers “all the people that [Trump] selected in the key policy positions,” to be “very strongly pro-Israel.”
He also pointed to the importance of personal dynamics — notably a trouble spot for Netanyahu’s relations with Obama — saying, “We have a prime minister and president who like each other and can talk things out, even if they disagree. I would imagine over a period of two-three years, there’ll be something they disagree about, but they’ll disagree about it the way friends do — and they’ll work it out.”
In sum, he said, “I think the relationship will be at least as good as it was under [President George W.] Bush and maybe even better.”
Providing some insight on how the new president’s views on Israel may have formed, Giuliani — whose relationship with Trump goes back decades — said, “His views come from growing up in New York… It always is a funny thing to say, because it usually is said when someone is accused of being prejudiced, but many of his best friends are Jewish. Like me. I think that’s where I gained a great deal of my love for Israel, I grew up with as many Jewish friends as I did Christian friends, so I’m very familiar with Judaism, the Jewish traditions, with Israel, with what Israel is like. I think it’s part of just his whole experience, being in the real estate industry. When I think of his good friends who he plays golf with, a lot of them are Jewish.”
“He’s an educated person; he’s a graduate of the Wharton School of business, went to Ivy League schools; so he has a basic knowledge of history,” the former mayor added. “We don’t have a better friend than Israel. Israel, the UK, Canada — you’d have to put them right near the very top. So, I think Israel fits into his geo-political view that maybe over the last eight years, we were treating our enemies better than our friends. He’d like to reverse that: treat our friends better than our enemies.”
Netanyahu has touted Israeli cyber know-how as being among Israel’s greatest exports. In a recent article for Israel’s Globes business daily, the prime minister heralded the onset of a “cyber revolution” and said that the Jewish state’s “power in science and technology is creating a great opportunity to position ourselves in the forefront of cybernetic innovation.” Later this month, Israel will host the world’s most significant cyber technology summit outside the US. Netanyahu is set to be a keynote speaker at the event.
In the US, issues of cyber security have taken center stage over the past month, with accusations of hacking leveled at the Russian government by many in the intelligence community. Some have even asserted that the publication of data from internal Democratic National Committee correspondences may have influenced the outcome of the election.
Now, said Giuliani, Trump wants to make the cyber sphere a “high priority for the country” — so much so that he intends to attend quarterly meetings on the topic — and he’s set his sights on Israel as a key partner in this effort.