Permit me to repeat that:
America has never been as supportive of the state of Israel than since President Obama took office.
At this moment and going forward, much attention will be paid to the matter of Israel planning to attack Iran (or not) in order to disrupt its nuclear program. Given the contentious Republican nominating campaign this topic will soon become a centerpiece of the debate. Immediately preceding the Super Bowl, with a huge television audience attending, Matt Lauer questioned President Obama about the United States’ position concerning Iran: I don’t think that Israel has made a decision on what they need to do. . . I think Israel rightly is going to be concerned and we are as well.
Americans will be bombarded with hot rhetoric regarding a conceivably perilous situation. Many already believe that there are those who are inventing another WMD ‘crisis’ such as the one that never materialized in Iraq. Bottom line, the president reinforced that we are going to make sure we work lock step (with Israel) and work to resolve this situation, hopefully diplomatically.
How Do Israelis Feel About President Obama?
This begs a question that has received too little media attention in the United States: What are Israelis’ feelings about our president? To me it is very important to understand how Israelis feel about the situation. Begin with the words of Efraim Halevy, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and other Israeli leaders who outspokenly favor President Obama’s strong commitment to the bond between the U.S. and Israel: America and Israel: An Unbreakable Bond
To view the entire speech click here: Speech at the Union for Reform Judaism
The December 2011 audience at the Union for Reform Judaism embraced a list of the president’s most liberal achievements from health-care reform to equal-pay legislation to the repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. President Obama said the military relationship between Israel and the United States has never been stronger. He spoke firmly in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–an independent Palestine alongside a secure Israel was in the long-term interest of both peoples. At the same conference neither Romney nor the other Republican candidates mentioned the two-state formula whic has been endorsed for decades by U.S. administrations. Our president cited the increase in military aid for Israel that he has secured; the U.S. partnership with Israel on missile defense; American diplomatic support to combat initiatives in international forums to “delegitimize” Israel; and even providing the fire-fighting aircraft he deployed to Israel last year to help put out deadly brush fires in the country’s north.
In return for Obama’s commitment to Israel Romney is known to intentionally misquote Barack Obama’s position regarding negotiation of a two-state solution in order to agitate Obama supporters and deceive those less aware of the facts. Joel Kiein (In the Arena) reports, Romney once again claimed that Obama threw Israel under the bus by proposing the 1967 borders as the basis for negotiations. Obama has done no such thing: he favors the 1967 borders with mutually agreed-upon land swaps-which is precisely the position that every President since Nixon has taken.
Prepare to hear a lot more of the lies. For example, Klein informs, Gingrich claims the President had not said a word about the rockets pummeling Israel from Gaza. Wrong. Obama traveled to Sderot, the town most pummeled. He expressed his outrage with an array of spent Hamas rocket casings behind him. Another gross example is the conspiracy rhetoric of many Ron Paul supporters that Israel is a Nazi state.
Republican candidates will continue without restraint and without shame to fabricate a very negative image of the existing U.S.-Israel relationship. Republicans believe it may be possible to chip away at some of Obama’s Jewish support particularly by attacking his Israel policy. People who are not aware of mid-East political reality will hear such stories frequently enough that their understanding will be that President Obama is not Israel’s friend; that he has not committed his administration to an unbreakable vow of American support.
Who might fault Fox-only viewers when that network is bent on historical and contemporary revision? Conservative MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough has reprimanded the Republican candidates for their distortions: Perry and Romney are not only overheated in their rhetoric, their apparent understanding of diplomacy is half-baked. Both of these men surely know that there’s a huge gulf between the public posturing of each of the parties involved, and the back-channel realities. As a lifelong supporter of Israel, I think this is reckless and irresponsible because it undermines our president.
Not so long ago ‘I Coulda Been a Contender’ Pawlenty raved: President Obama treats Israel … as a problem, rather than as an ally and went on that Obama has an anti-Israel attitude.
However, just the opposite it true. Obama and his administration have overseen the largest-ever increase of military cooperation and aid to Israel, used his first U.N. Security Council veto to stop an anti-Israel resolution criticizing Israel’s settlement policies, and, reportedly, worked with the Israelis to create the Stuxnet computer virus to attack Iran’s nuclear program.
Republicans, however, still label the president as anti-Israel. Let there be no mistake, since Obama became our commander in chief, U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation has never been stronger. Consider this source: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified to Congress, In terms of concrete steps to improve the security relationship between the U.S. and Israel, more has been done in the last two years than in any comparable period in my entire career.
The U.S.-Israel Alliance is Rooted in Shared Values
Barack Obama’s justification of American support of Israel is no different from what it was under Lyndon Johnson. When Soviet Premier Kosygin asked President Johnson why the United States supports Israel when there were at the time eighty million Arabs and only three million Israelis, the president responded simply: Because it is right. . . Don’t let anyone else tell a different story. We have been there, and we will continue to be there. Those are the facts.
Three months before his winter 2012 speech at the Union for Reform Judaism, President Obama gave a speech to the United Nations. He spoke about keeping nuclear weapons away from Iran and working with the Israelis and the Palestinians to reach peace through negotiations, not through half-measures and paperwork filed at the UN. He came out hard against Palestinian recognition of statehood in the UN General Assembly. This followed his decision to guarantee a veto in the UN Security Council should PLO Chairman Abbas have decided to begin his bid with the powerful inner circle of the UN.
Obama has Israel’s Interests at Heart
A recent poll coming out of Israel has shown that (Jewish) Israelis believe that the President has their interests at heart. In May 2011, only 12% of Israelis believed that US foreign policy to Israel, under President Obama, was “pro-Israel.” Forty percent saw it as “pro-Palestinian.” Now, the former number-those who believe that Obama’s policy is favorable to Israel-has risen to 54% and the latter number–those who think he is pulling for the Palestinians–has fallen to 19%.
That’s a compelling shift in perspective. It underscores this president’s commitment to long-term foreign policy. The trend continues to increasingly favor President Obama in Israel. Keep this in mind as we gear up for the relentless Republican attack on our president’s policy towards Israel: The people of Israel realize that the attack (President Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus” is baseless.
A recent poll underscores that Israelis overwhelmingly have a favorable impression of President Barack Obama. A Dialog survey of 499 people showed that seven out of ten Israelis share a favorable view of President Obama (a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points).
Another poll, reflecting similarly pro-Obama feelings appeared in the Jerusalem Post in October 2011:
In the Keevoon poll Israelis, who tend to vote Kadima, Labor, or Shas in the next election, were more likely to call the Obama administration’s policies more pro-Israel. Voters of Israel Beiteinu, the National Union, Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism were less likely to do so. Women were more likely to consider Obama pro-Israel than men, with 64% of women saying as much and only 43% among men.
Obama has won international support for the principles he set out in his major policy speech to revive the Mideast peace process. Israel’s daily newspaper Maariv published a poll showing 57 percent of voters believe Netanyahu should have supported Obama’s initiative, rather than opposing the president.
During a recent NYC campaign fundraiser, President Obama offered reassurances to Jewish supporters about his administration’s commitment to Israel. Speaking about the “enormous tumult” in the Middle East brought by the Arab Spring, Obama underscored that the U.S. stands “on the side of democracy” but remains unwavering in its support for the security of its allies:
No American ally is more important than the state of Israel. This administration – I try not to pat myself too much on the back – but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration. Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an iron dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.
Obama will continue to take heat from some portion of the Jewish community for what have been, at times, frustrated relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for his public calls for statehood negotiations with Palestinians to start with the pre-1967 lines. In response, American Jewish Congress chairman Jack Rosen acknowledged these concerns in his introduction of the president. Rosen praised the president’s record:
America’s never been as supportive of the state of Israel than since Obama took office.
I have an idea that members of YWC!LI 2012 may have something to express about Obama’s policy toward Israel. Share your thoughts and feelings about Obama’s Israel policy here