Yesterday, Governor Mitt Romney began his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, NV by accusing President Obama of “undermining” Israel’s position and speaking “as if our closest ally is the problem.” Romney charged, as well, that “the people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.”
The facts are clearly otherwise. Here are just a few of the things President Obama has done on behalf of Israel since he began his Presidency (as compiled by the President’s supporters in 2011):
- Worked on a multilateral strategy to counter efforts to de-legitimize Israel internationally (PBS 5/20/11);
- Reaffirmed consistently the special relationship between the US and Israel;
- Personally intervened with the government of Egypt to save Israelis being attacked in the Cairo Israeli embassy with gratitude expressed by the Israeli Prime Minister “attesting to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States” (PM Netanyahu – 9/10/11);
- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said he cannot remember a better period of support from the United States, and that Israel’s relationship with the US is the strongest and most important Israel has with any nation in the world (News – 8/4/11);
- Sent Israel the largest-ever security assistance funding in 2010 ($2.775 billion) and raised that to $3 billion for 2011 enabling Israel to benefit from an unprecedented financial commitment from the US (Remarks by Andrew J. Shapiro at the Brookings Saban Center for ME Policy – 7/16/10);
- Made Israel the leading beneficiary of US security assistance funds from the Foreign Military Finance Program for military training and equipment (Shapiro, Ibid);
- Granted Israeli forces access to advanced US military hardware (such as the F35 Joint Strike Fighter) and emergency stockpiles of US Arms (Reuters – 10/8/10; UPI – 1/19/10);
- Led the US Congress to help fund the Iron Dome defense rocket system to stop missiles launched from Hamas and Hezbollah (Associated Press – 4/16/11);
- Was personally thanked by PM Netanyahu in his speech to Congress for being “very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own…[and] for your steadfast commitment to Israel’s security…” (5/24/11);
- Expanded bilateral security consultations and cooperation on a wide range of shared security challenges, including counter-terrorism and the prevention of illicit arms smuggling into Gaza (JTA – 1/21/09; White House – 7/20/11);
- Lobbied heavily against the Goldstone report advancing beyond the Human Rights Council;
- Expressed solidarity with Israel in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident;
- Blocked the efforts in the United Nations to shift focus away from bi-lateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in finding a 2 state solution (Washington Post – 9/18/09; Reuters – 4/6/11);
- Maintained consistent support reaching back several presidencies (Republican and Democrat) in supporting Israeli security and right to self-defense (Wall Street Journal – 5/23/11);
- Called for a non-militarized Palestinian state and “phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces [upon the condition] of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-military state…” (5/19/11);
- Expressed opposition to the Palestinians unilaterally seeking statehood recognition at the UN (Haaretz – 9/13/11);
- Attacked delegitimizing efforts against Israel and efforts to isolate Israel at the UN (5/19/11);
- Shared Israel’s concerns about Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian government while understanding Israel’s reluctance to negotiate with a party that has been unwilling to recognize [Israel’s] right to exist.” Has insisted that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to all existing agreements…” (AIPAC Policy Conference – 5/22/11);
- Affirmed repeatedly that the US is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; has led the American government and the international effort to create the most comprehensive and biting international sanctions regime that the Iranian government has ever faced (MSNBC – 6/9/10).
There are many more examples of President Obama’s support for the State of Israel, its security, integrity and well-being. Governor Romney’s challenge is not only wrong on the facts, but undermines the traditional bi-partisan Republican and Democratic support for the Jewish state that has until recently united American Presidents and Congress.
Israel’s security requires and has always depended upon American bi-partisan support. Romney’s false, short-sighted and self-serving use of Israel as part of his campaign for the Presidency is not in Israel’s best interest and he should cease and desist.