Argentinian President Javier Milei is due to arrive in Israel on Tuesday. This is big.
Normally, the arrival of a foreign leader in Israel — other than the U.S. president, or an Arab head of state — is not particularly newsworthy. There has been a long parade of presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers visiting Israel to show solidarity in the wake of the October 7 terror attack.
Some lead governments whose policies are not actually helpful; they want to empathize with victims, but not to fight terrorists.
Milei is different — in every way. His support for Israel is rock-solid; he even campaigned for the presidency while waving an Israeli flag.
Javier Milei waves an Israel flag during a rally. pic.twitter.com/Jfk27GJkbg— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) November 17, 2023
The size of the Argentinian Jewish community — less than 250,000 people — is not enough, on its own, for Milei’s position to be a simple political calculation. Rather, he believes in Israel’s mission as a state: to restore the ancient homeland of the Jewish people, and to provide an example to the world of how an oppressed people can overcome every obstacle to success.
Milei’s support goes even deeper, to an embrace of Judaism itself. While he has not converted (yet), he has a deep appreciation for the texts and values of the Jewish tradition. As president-elect, he made a special visit to the Ohel in New York — the resting place of the Seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whose spiritual guidance ignited a revival of religious Judaism throughout the world in the decades after the Holocaust.
Like Milei, who closed half his government’s departments on his first day in office, the Rebbe conducted himself with a sense of urgency, believing that anything worth doing should be done immediately.
Milei’s visit to Israel will be a similar sort of pilgrimage. He reportedly intends to visit the Western Wall, which is the holiest site in Judaism, to pay his respects. Foreign leaders typically avoid the site, because the Palestinians — absurdly — claim it as part of their future state. President Donald Trump broke that taboo, and Milei apparently intends to follow in Trump’s footsteps there.
But Milei is also cutting his own path. He is a libertarian — one of the few to serve in high public office, anywhere in the world — and he is passionate about individual rights and limited government. When he spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month — after flying commercial, not a private or military jet — he told the world’s elite to their faces that their corporatist socialism was destroying the West, socially as well as economically. He will bring that message with him to Israel.
Israel has been, historically, a rather socialist country. Many — not all — of the early Zionists were socialists; the early economy of the state was dominated by central planning, and its politics were dominated by the Histadrut, the country’s labor federation. But socialism had the same consequences in Israel that it had everywhere else. The free market reforms that began in the mid-1980s, and that were extended by then-finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu two decades ago, led to the country’s prosperity today.
Milei is therefore a unique figure: pro-Israel, libertarian, and steeped in Jewish thought. His visit to Israel comes at a time when Israel is beginning to feel isolated. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) may have allowed Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza to continue, but it framed the Jewish state as a potential genocidal regime as it tried to apply an international treaty that arose in response to the genocide of European Jewry in the Second World War. Even the U.S., which has been Israel’s most important ally, wants to impose a new Palestinian state — a reward for Hamas, which turned Gaza into a terror base — on bewildered Israelis.
The Argentinian president, who promised his first major trip would be to Israel, will do more than shore up Israeli morale. He will also bring together the strands of thought — liberty, faith, and strength in the fight against terror — that are at the core of support for the Jewish state around the world. He represents the values upon which the fate of Israel, and the West, depend.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the 2021 e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now updated with a new foreword. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.