Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Republican Candidates and Israel


Obama Abandons Israel

Obama has turned his back on Israel. He has embraced Iran, ignored terrorist organizations and sucked up to Palestinians on all fronts, souring relations with Israel. No matter what Israel’s enemies do, be it firing rockets at civilians or as Muhmound Ahmadinejad demands Israel be “wiped off the map,” the Obama administration mounts a one sided continued pressure that puts the fault squarely on the shoulders of the people of Israel. The Obama administrations course of ever-more appeasement has weakened the US military and threatened existing security related commitments to its allies.

Despite the failures, Obama continues to claim he has done more to bolster Israel’s security than any other President in history, “I try not to pat myself too much on the back,”– so why does he have to repeatedly defend his abysmal record? How can he say he has done more than Richard Nixon who initiated Operation Nickel Grass to ensure Israel was well supplied through the 1973 Kippur War? What of Ronald Reagan who ensured Israel’s military was fit for purpose? And let us not forget Harry Truman who helped drive the effort to ensure the United Nations recognised Israel’s fundamental right to statehood. It is clear that Democrats have let down Israel, but there is hope for a stronger future for Israel in the Republican Party.

The Republicans and Israel

  Republicans have been courting the Jewish community lately in order to gain their vital votes in the swing states, and the evidence suggests that more and more Jews are leaving the Democratic Party. As mentioned in the introduction, Republicans have traditionally been very much pro Israel and the current selection of candidates ready to oust Obama is no exception to this. Out of the four remaining candidates all of them say they support Israel unconditionally so. But there are some subtle (and not so subtle) differences that every pro Israel voter should be aware of before casting their all-important vote. This is particularly important when you consider the current turmoil in the Arab world and Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood. It would be catastrophic to see what would happen if the power of balance transfers to the Muslim Brotherhood dominating the political affairs across the Arab world - a path the Obama administration is ever approaching.

Rick Santorum

Santorum has often contradicted his own understanding of Israel. He has referred to the Golan Heights as “occupied territories.” Last June, as he was referring to the Golan Heights and the West Bank, he talked about four decades of Israel “occupying that ground, and having that ground be part of Israel.” In May too, he spoke of the West Bank Palestinian Leadership.” This definitively contrasts his recent statements that “all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians.” Hopefully he has made his mind up on this, but his repeated contradictions should be noted and taken into consideration when voting. On a more reassuring note, Santorum has recently said “The bottom line is that this is legitimately Israeli country. And they have the right to do within their country as we have a right to do within ours.” Therefore, if Israel wanted to conduct a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, they could do so without having to ask the US first under a Santorum Presidency.

Newt Gingrich

  Gingrich picked up a lot of media attention when he described the Palestinians as an “invented peoples,” indeed, the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson then stumped up $5million for a pro Gingrich super-PAC, Winning Our Future. Whilst the statement is accurate to a degree and has an emotional appeal to Jewish voters and Christian Zionists, it could be interpreted as a somewhat thoughtless exercise in pandering to a large bloc of American voters. Gingrich has stated that Israel cannot be expected by the international community to open up peace negotiations when the Palestinian governmental Authority joins forces with various terrorist organizations. Gingrich is of course a firm ally of Israel and no one would doubt that, what could be worrying is his erratic behaviour when it comes to dealing with delicate issues. Sometimes, a bit of well thought out diplomacy can go a long way.

Mitt Romney

  Romney’s book No Apology famously accused President Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus,” showing off his sympathetic approach to Israel’s challenges, pledging his first foreign trip as President would be Israel. Romney has always argued for a two-state solution through negotiated peace. Like Santorum and Gingrich, Romney is a firm believer that Israel should be able to conduct its own affairs without the US’ say so. Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorist and Arab threats is, as Romney says, “essential for international security.” With Romney, you can expect a very similar approach to that of George W. Bush.

Ron Paul

  This one is an interesting candidate to say the least. Some would argue that his non-interventionist policies would create a power vacuum in the Middle East, Paul of course would argue differently. Weather you think his ideas are dangerous or otherwise, he does raise some unique and interesting points that other candidates fail to talk about. For instance, in 1981 when Israel attacked a nuclear reactor in Iraq nearly the entire US Congress voted to condemn the action whereas Ron Paul supported Israel. In that respect, his views would follow that of the other candidates. Paul argues that Israel is dependent on the US for money, military power and permission on diplomatic fronts. Paul points out that whilst Israel receives around $3Billiion a year in aid, its Arab neighbours get $12Billion (some estimates say it’s nearer $21Billion) a year – underlining Paul’s argument that aid can damage the US and its ally’s security interests. The issue of the $3Billion in aid a year is a divisive one, some would rightly argue that it helps maintain a strong national defence for Israel. Others (including Benjamin Netanyahu) have said that Israel can defend itself and the diktats attached to the aid are not worth the money. Whatever your opinions of Paul, his views do raise some important issues that probably need further public debate.

Final Thoughts

  It’s clear that if any of these candidates were to go on to win the general election, Israel would have a firm ally at its disposal. All of them believe Israel to be one of its greatest allies and would likely support Israel if the times got tough. What does differ is their approach to this and the character they bring with their ideas. Santorum’s main focus is largely directed towards the Iranian nuclear issue and would vehemently support Israel attacking Iran. On the other hand, his lack of clarity on foreign policy could be problematic should Israel want to pursue the peace process with the Palestinians. Gingrich is a hawk no doubt, but his temperament could possibly cause more harm than good. Romney is a moderate and would ideally like to see two-state solution, but his discontent for Arab dictatorships would translate into a solid backing of the US’s military assistance to Israel. Paul has likely been overly misunderstood by the establishment. His non-interventionist beliefs are a divisive issue, though he does point obvious flaws in US foreign policy such as US financial aid to Israel’s enemies.

In foreign affairs there are many issues that we simply cannot foresee, or ones that can’t be appropriated into simplistic “pro-Israel vs. anti-Israel.” When it comes to these situations, what truly matters is whether the voter trusts the candidate’s judgement and character. These are questions voters must ask themselves when deciding on the next President. Whilst it may seem easier to discuss balance transfers, local news and general chatter, it's integral to think in depth about your voting intentions so the right person for the job can really get to grips with the deepset matters and sort them out once and for all. 

[Editor's Note - Mimi is our newest front pager here at Israel Thrives and, as you can see, is a very good writer. I am very much looking forward to her participation going forward and I like the idea of this blog being nonpartisan in nature. We have room here for liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and, really, anyone outside of anti-Zionist circles or those who come here with malice on a contentious topic. Welcome, Mimi!]



  1. Hey, it's Mimi's first post!

    Welcome aboard!

  2. Nope. Not a one of these guys deserves support, even if personally they may be more committed to Israel than Obama.

    These candidates have not shown over the years that they have the welfare of all Americans at heart, and I find their views exclusionary.

    Domestic issues should not be ignored when choosing candidates and in this vein they fail completely. One need only look at the House of Representatives to get an idea of where they would take us.

    As I indicated in one post, I think the Republicans make some good points, but are too belligerent and prone to doing things like Bush that alienate. They take what is a winning argument over the actual nature of the conflict and tear it to shreds with incompetent and even negligent implementation. They tend to seek answers by starting with hard power.

    That said, Democrats are solidly pro-Israel, and Obama supports Israel because America and Democrats do. It is America and Americans who are Israel's best ally, not one person anyway.
    Obama has gone down some troubling roads, and has not made the situation any better, by failing to appreciate the entities like the MB and OIC are up to no good, for Israel or America. I believe he will come to regret his cooperation and recognize that the path is now more difficult because of it. But in the end, particularly as we watch Europe disintegrate, he will have to stand up for America because it's not only the right thing to do, but because Americans will demand it.

    Obama tells us he is such a great friend. The Republicans say they are better friends. But it is not friendship that matters in the end. Friends often hurt each other, on purpose or unwittingly. What matters most is competence, and here I think they all fail.

    There is truth in the positions of each side, but there is also deceit and manipulation in the way each approaches the public and the other. On balance, because I have always supported Democratic causes and believe that people do better under them, I vote Democratic. But I will criticize every step of the way, and never become a lap dog just because I fear the Republicans. To judge everything in such a stark light is a mistake in my opinion, one that too many make.

  3. I can't tell you how liberating it is no longer identifying as a liberal Democrat.  I haven't registered as a Republican, and I do not know if I will endorse or advocate for whomever emerges as the Republican candidate, but its nice to have options.

    Also, of course, it is long past time for American Jewish voters to stand up to a Democratic Party whose presidential candidate likes to smack around Israel and tell Jewish people where we may, or may not, be allowed to live.

    However much anyone might want to deny recent history, there is no question that each and every time that Obama or Biden or Clinton complained about Israeli building on the western bank of the Jordan river they validated "Palestinian" anti-Semitism.

    I don't think that we should put up with that and I very much hope that Jewish Americans consider voting Republican in November.  

  4. Welcome aboard Mimi also. You make some solid points. I personally am not too enamored of any of the Republican candidates thus far. None seem to have that leadership magic. Of course, last time Obama had it and look at where it got us. His admin has just described Iran as a rational actor.

    So far it's a pretty lackluster field in all regards.

  5. This is very well said - and while I disagree with a bit of it, really I have to give credit where credit is due.

  6. I really could care less. You have been clear where you are coming from and I see you as no less a problem than those I mentioned.

    I suspect at the drop of a hat you will again call me dishonest and the like. You give credit, it seems, only when someone agrees, and seem to have little value for criticism otherwise.

    As I said, Obama is no great shakes, and he deserves criticism when he does things that hurt Israel and America. At least I can put my partisan loyalties aside and speak the truth, not some canned Democratic spin that I find too often emanating from your doorstep.

    Jews ARE increasingly concerned with Obama. That is a fact. I do not agree with all that comes out of the Right as it related to him, but there are some points that I do agree with. I am not scared to see things as they are, or in a wider context than what is good for Obama.

    Sorry I cannot be more gracious, but I do not take kindly to people that attack my integrity based on partisanship, as you have done, especially when they do not know me personally. As such, it means little that I get fleeting credit from you at this point because you have already shown too much disrespect of who I am.

  7. (To oldschool - Reply function is off or it goes on and off )
    Meh.... I don't care if you are more gracious or not, and frankly I don't like the way you approach things in the least, I find you to be quite arrogant, and I don't like that in a person. So.... we both "rub" each other the wrong way. Nu? So what? Who cares?
    I am not trying to make nice to you - don't mistake my comment for that. Nor should you be surprised if I don't take what you say as much of anything - the fact that you said something once or twice means not a whole lot to me. When you consistently call out things as you do today, THEN I might change my mind. Mind you, I know there is no love lost on me as well - so I don't sweat that.  
    That said, I am simply saying that I agree with much of what you said in your comment (although I have a far more positive view of President Obama) regarding the Republican field.

  8. Then just say you agree, rather than give me credit. It comes off as arrogance no less.

    It is ironic that you talk about calling people out, but what should we describe accusations of dishonesty and intentional mislabeling of others?

    I may be arrogant in some ways, yet suggest you come off no less. I do not let my arrogance get in the way of having reasonable discourse, even when I call people out. I do NOT call others liars, as you have, even after being told that you are 100% wrong! Would you do that at a meeting or seminar? There is a difference in how arrogance manifests, and I find yours is far less tolerant.

    Only when you are capable to realize that I am not trying to change your mind could it actually happen. I am speaking to a different audience, to one that is both misinformed and open to be educated. I do not question their sincerity. On the other hand, I see you too driven to prove how Democratic you are by supporting Obama, rather than open to examine how they, not just Republicans, behave. In some ways I believe that Democrats take Jews too much for granted.

    I do not see these issues as necessarily partisan, but in a larger context. I try to determine my reality by gleaning truth from each side. I believe the Democrats a more welcoming sense of how to cope with diversity, while Republicans present a more accurate picture of the geopolitical scene. Theory versus reality. Jus ad bellum to jus in belo. It is important to look at context and understand that each side is basically incompetent because each acts in its own political interest.

    To me, it comes down to protecting the values we share from the growing numbers of opponents that do not. Coming into the human rights world as a babe with altruistic intent, the hard realities of the game played on the field has turned me more positivist.

    Anyway, I have strayed. I have no doubt at this point that I will be stigmatized at your site because I do not see fit to drool over Obama or call Republicans evil (the prescription for cred), but speak to issues of human rights instead.


  9. Doodad,

    do you mind if I ask you whether or not you voted for Obama last time around?

    I did.  Aside from a brief stint as a Green Party member at the end of the 90s, I've been a Democrat my entire life.

    I suppose for me it's been the one-two punch of the infiltration of the progressive movement (and, thus, the Democratic Party) by anti-Semitic anti-Zionists combined with a president who not only screwed up the peace process, but then went forward to imply Jewish blame for his own stupid mistakes.

    I mean, really, telling Jewish leadership that Israeli Jews need to search their souls if they want peace?

    It's just outrageous and a terrible shame that so many liberal Jews (present company mainly accepted) are so ideologically blinkered that they absolutely refuse to acknowledge the obvious.

  10. This is fucking nuts.!

    Ron Paul said that Israel's creation was a mistake.  A mistake.  He wants to zero out foreign aid - including that to Israel.  His most dedicated supporters are antisemitic anti-Zionists.  Mondoweiss busts a nutt over Ron Paul every day.  Ron Paul's newsletter used to feature antisemitic diatribes.

    All I have to do is read that Ron Paul section, combined with the statement "It’s clear that if any of these candidates were to go on to win the general election, Israel would have a firm ally at its disposal." which presumably includes Ron Paul, to know that you guys have completely lost it.

    And spare me the fake lecture about being tolerant of other viewpoints and all of that bullshit.  You folks are living in a fantasy land if you think that that Ron Paul is in any way pro-Israel. 

    You guys need to take a deep breath and face up to how far you've drifted from reality, if you can't even see the truth about Ron Paul.  Please, pull back from the abyss, and clear your minds.

  11. fizziks,

    You are being irrational.

    We are considering who to vote for in November.  I, for one, have no intention of voting for Ron Paul or advocating for Ron Paul, but your hysteria is way out of proportion to what Mimi has written.

    You need to take a deep breath and face up to how you've drifted from reality, if you can't even see the truth about Barack Obama.  Please, pull back from the abyss, and clear your mind.

    Screaming and stamping your feet convinces no one.

    That much I promise you.


  12. I agree that Paul is nuts and said so.

    Please do not associate one person's conduct as speaking for all.

    It does not work for Muslims and should not work here either.

  13. But there it is again, right?

    "What???  Even considering not voting for the Democrat is MADNESS!  MADNESS, I say!  We must vote Democratic!  We've always voted Democratic!  Only a fiend or a crazy person would ever consider doing anything else!"

    I say it is time to explore options and possibilities.

  14. Let's see... Ron Paul, who has said Israel shouldn't even exist, who wants to cut aid to Israel entirely, who said he would not have done anything to save the Jews from the Holocaust, who is endorsed by Stormfront, who prints Neo-Nazi stuff in his Newsletter is a "true friend of Israel" and a "firm ally" (the authors words). Wow....
    I guess as long as the candidates name is not Barak HUESSEIN Obama - anything goes - eh?
    What next - we draft Pat Buchanan???

  15. Gotta disagree with you here. I am not.
    Mimi's article states very clearly that if ANY of the Republican candidates win, Israel has a friend in the White House. That is simply NOT true.
    Regardless of what you think of President Obama, Ron Paul is a danger and the fact that he commands almost a 1/5th of the Republican vote is telling.
    You say - "I am not sure who I am voting for (if anyone) but I won't for President Obama again". Well then, while you might not think so, you are endorsing WHOEVER is the Republican nominee either through direct action OR inaction.
    After watching that sideshow that they call a debate last night can you really justify that? I mean seriously?  

  16. I mean did you even read Mimi's post???
    Here are her exact words:
    "Paul has likely been overly misunderstood by the establishment."
    Misunderstood??? The man cavorts with Stromfronters - I mean REALLY???