The US presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney found its way to
Tel Aviv this week, in a debate organized by The Jerusalem Post, along with
IVoteIsrael and the Association of Americans and Canadians in
Moderated by Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde, Monday night’s
debate at Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv highlighted some of the main concerns for the
room full of American Israelis.
On the Left side of the discussion table,
Hillel Schenker, representing Democrats Abroad Israel, praised Obama’s
dedication to Israel’s security and wellbeing, as well as his revival of US
standing in the international arena.
To the Right, Marc Zell,
representing Republicans Abroad Israel, was arguing that US international
standing has never been so low.
“Maybe the world didn’t like George Bush,
but they respected him,” he said. Zell said that if Romney will run the business
of America then “the economy has a fighting chance of getting back on its feet
and America’s standing in the eyes of the world will be able to lead around the
world and particularly in our region.”
Regarding Iran, Schenker said that
“Bush’s great achievement was to eliminate the Iraqi counterpoint to Iran, which
strengthened Iran’s situation tremendously in the region and in the world,”
creating the current crisis we have with Iran. Obama has set red lines, he said,
working towards preventing a nuclear Iran.
Zell, however, countered that
all Obama has done is try to talk to the ayatollahs, who in turn told him “to
take a walk. The person who has been working to prevent the nuclearization of
Iran,” he said, “is the prime minister of this tiny country
Zell said that Obama was avoiding the subject of Iran until it
became an issue in connection with his reelection.
Zell also gave away
that in his upcoming visit to Israel during his campaign, Romney would talk
about certain issues of interest including US recognition of Jerusalem as
Schenker was a little less promising, yet more
“Every presidential candidate can say whatever he wants as a
candidate about Jerusalem, but the fact is that when you are sitting in the
White House, you cannot declare that Jerusalem is the official capital until a
comprehensive peace agreement is achieved between Israel and its neighbors. This
is the reality,” Schenker said. “You have to work with both the Israelis and the
The series of political debates aims to encourage inform
Americans living in Israel to register to vote, and to better inform them about
their voting decisions for the upcoming US presidential elections on November
Another debate will be held Thursday, July 26, in Beit Shemesh at
Netach Menashe Beit Knesset at 8 p.m., moderated by Post political correspondent
Gil Hoffman. The debate will feature Zell and the counsel and past chairman of
Democrats Abroad Israel, Sheldon Schorer.