Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney boldly declares that, if elected to the most
powerful office in the world, he will do the opposite of US President Barack
Obama on Israel.
Speaking by satellite last month to the Faith
and Freedom Coalition conference of Christian conservatives, meeting in
Washington DC, Gov. Romney said he would represent “the opposite” of
what President Obama is doing on US relations with Israel and Iran.
have fought for Israel during my tenure in Congress and throughout my
entire life. I care very deeply about the Jewish State of Israel and
have always fought for a strong US-Israel relationship. I have seen many
US presidents – and many candidates for the White House – come and go,
but Governor Romney’s proclamation stands out as either foolish partisan
rhetoric that needs to be corrected or seriously dangerous for the
safety and security of Israel.
By saying that he’s going to do
the opposite, does Governor Romney mean that he will refuse to defend
Israel every time its legitimacy is on the line at the United Nations?
That would certainly be the opposite of President Obama, who has voted
with Israel at the UN one hundred percent of the time – an unparalleled
voting record among US presidents. The Obama Administration has vocally
stood up against delegitimization attempts at the UN. After standing up
against Palestinian unilateral action at the UN, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu personally thanked the president, calling the speech a
“badge of honor.”
THE OBAMA Administration has given more the $3
billion per year to help Israel’s military to ensure it has the most
up-to-date technologies and weapons available. Even under the tightest
of budget restraints, and in addition to the billions in dollars of
foreign aid, President Obama provided hundreds of millions of dollars to
Israel for Iron Dome, which has protected countless Israeli lives from
ballistic missiles. He has held true to his guarantee that the
“commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad.”
Would Governor Romney cut this vital aid to Israel and pull US funding
for Iron Dome? Because that would be doing the opposite.
Governor Romney ease sanctions on Iran and refuse to stand up to the
authoritarian regime when Israel is in need? This would surely be
another example of “doing the opposite.” President Obama has put into
place the toughest-ever sanctions regime against Iran and has used some
of the most powerful tools of the US government to make sure that Iran
never acquires nuclear weapons. With the Iranian financial system
hurting and the value of Iranian currency plummeting, let there be no
doubt: These sanctions have been crippling. Furthermore, in order to
hold true to the President’s promise that he will prevent Iran from
getting nuclear weapons, he continues to firmly declare that all options
are on the table.
Would Governor Romney not have personally
gotten involved when the Israeli embassy in Cairo was under attack?
Would he not have done everything possible to help Israeli citizens
during the Carmel fire?
How exactly is Governor Romney proposing
to “do the opposite?” Defense Minister Ehud Barak doesn’t want
the opposite of Obama on Israel, either. Barak, also a former Israeli
prime minister, has said that under the Obama Administration, Israel and
the US’s bonds are “stronger and deeper than ever.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, said that Israel has not
had “a better friend than President Obama.” And President Shimon
Peres, who has continually referred to Obama as a “friend,” says that
the US President has an “unwavering commitment to the peace and security
of our land.”
What does Gov. Romney’s promise to “do the opposite” of that even mean?
Obama has stood up for Israel time and time again, to ensure that the
bond between Israel and the US is truly unbreakable. For one to say that
he wants to do the opposite of Obama on Israel is not only baffling,
but a cause for great concern to Israel’s friends in America and around
the world. Gov. Romney ought to know better.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Illionois.