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It’s time to throw the Obama smears ‘under the bus’
By DAVID A. HARRIS
12/09/2012
The pro-Israel community must work to expand and broaden itself so that we can continue the tradition of broad bipartisan support for Israel.
 
This past election, we heard many scurrilous claims – if not outright lies – from some partisan Republicans and political conservatives both here and in Israel, individuals committed to putting Mitt Romney in the White House at almost any cost. After four years of President Barack Obama’s pro-Israel presidency, one of the most odious claims was that if given a second term, the president would somehow “throw Israel under the bus” and reveal a sinister version of himself that he’d kept under wraps during his first term.

Many Republicans insisted on this deeply disturbing narrative and similar claims, but the overwhelming majority of American Jews demonstrated that they saw through these myths on Election Day. And in November 2012, Israel’s supporters around the world saw these bogus claims shattered by more of the president’s singular pro- Israel leadership.

But a key question lingers: when will the anti-Obama Israel myths stop? And when will partisan Republicans end the disgraceful and dangerous tactic of turning Israel into an election wedge issue – something they did in this election to an extent never seen before? Let’s pause for a reality check.

Shortly after Election Day, the president and members of his administration clearly supported Israel’s right to defend itself as Operation Pillar of Defense began. Indeed, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres multiple times throughout the conflict in order to convey their support and discuss the constructive roles the United States could play.

The president and members of his administration personally condemned Hamas’ rockets and placed the blame for the escalation squarely at Hamas’ feet. In addition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shuttled around the region to ensure that Egypt would play an important role in reining in Hamas and instituting a vital cease-fire.

But of course even before Pillar of Defense began, President Obama and his administration were outspoken champions of the revolutionary Iron Dome missile defense system – which the Bush administration greeted with skepticism and ultimately took a pass on, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Iron Dome proved itself effective against Hamas’s rockets and prevented countless Israeli casualties prior to Pillar of Defense. But the critical test took place during the heavy barrage of rockets during the operation itself – and the Iron Dome passed with flying colors, while garnering praise throughout the Israeli government. Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said that if the Iron Dome was traded in the stock market, “it would have multiplied its share value several times over.”

Israeli officials lined up after the conflict to thank President Obama for his support of Israel’s actions and for the Iron Dome. In particular, Defense Minister Ehud Barak – Israel’s most decorated soldier – reiterated what he has proudly declared over and over: “The security relationship, as well as the intelligence relationship between our two countries, has never been so close... and we are highly thankful for this.”

However, the president’s support for Israel began long before the war.

The president and UN Ambassador Susan Rice were Israel’s best allies in the United Nations throughout the past four years. Under their leadership, the United States amassed an unprecedented 100% pro-Israel voting record in the UN, passed the most significant Iran sanctions ever, and made significant progress combating what Ambassador Rice dubbed “anti-Israel crap.”

So it should have surprised nobody that the United States worked assiduously and voted against the Palestinians’ upgrade to UN non-member observer status. Even though the vote’s result was apparent well before the General Assembly convened that day, America’s delegation made an impassioned case against the upgrade and reiterated that stunts in the Israel-obsessed UN are no substitute for direct negotiations.

President Obama led and acted precisely the way a deeply pro-Israel president would, and he deserves our community’s thanks. While some of the president’s critics have expressed their appreciation, many have not. The harshest critics – who routinely spewed venom and lies during the campaign – should be lining up single file to make up for the embarrassment they’ve caused the pro-Israel community with their absurd attacks.

Their silence – and continuing malfeasance – should concern all of us who care about the US-Israel relationship.

The pro-Israel community must work to expand and broaden itself so that we can continue the tradition of broad bipartisan support for Israel.

One of the best ways to start is by giving credit where credit is due – and by throwing the Obama smears themselves “under the bus,” once and for all.

The writer is president and CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council
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