bush israel 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
A JPost.com exclusive blog
In a recent spate of op-ed pieces in the Jerusalem Post, Congressman Howard Berman (D-Cal), Clinton Ambassador Martin Indyk, Carter advisor Stuart Eizenstat and a who's who of other liberal Jewish Democrats claim Barack Obama is better for Israel than John McCain.
They are all friends of Israel, but their allegiance to the Democratic Party seemingly takes precedence over their concern for Israel's safety. For Americans who have chosen to live in Israel, the candidates' Israel positions are not matters of party loyalty or cheap rhetoric. They are matters of life and death. That may explain why, in spite of the onslaught of Editorials From Famous Jewish Obama Apologists, exit polls (themselves the subject of some controversy) showed that Americans in Israel (less than a quarter of whom were registered Republicans) voted for McCain over Obama by an overwhelming 76% to 24% margin.
Yet, these repetitive Obama-talking-point editorials deserve some refutation. Ignoring their sillier claims (e.g., Obama has a more "Jewish"/tikkun-olam outlook because he was raised by a single mother, or that he is qualified to single-handedly improve black-Jewish relations), even their more substantive statements don't stand up. For example, they make numerous claims under the umbrella theme that "Israel is Less Secure Now Than When President Bush took office."
Are they kidding? It's hard to believe this cockeyed claim gets repeated, especially with the implication that Israel's security issues are somehow the fault of President Bush. Let's set the record straight.
Intifada: When President Bush took office, Israel was in the midst of the "Second Intifada" uprising. We now know that this Intifada was premeditated by Yasser Arafat (who was extensively supported diplomatically and financially by the Clinton Administration) while engaged in Oslo "peace" negotiations. Suicide bombers terrorized all of Israel, murdering some 2000 Israeli civilians. We and our children were forced to risk our lives just boarding buses, attending weddings, synagogues, holiday festivals, or sitting in cafes.
By contrast, today this country has returned to a level of safety and normalcy. Israel's reining in that wave of terror (including building the security fence, opposed by Obama) would have been significantly more difficult without the diplomatic and moral support of the Bush Administration for the Sharon government's no-nonsense means of shutting down Arab terror.
Deep in their hearts, which candidate do these Obama supporters honestly think would be more supportive of the next round of Sharon-esque anti-terror measures that an Israeli government will again require?
Strategic Partnership: Israel remains the strongest military power and America's closest ally in the region due in part to technology and intelligence-sharing on an unprecedented level. This resulted from the special US-Israel strategic alliance created by the Bush Administration, cooperating more with Israel than any US administration in history. Just what does Obama/Biden want to "change" here?
Syria Marginalized: The Bush Administration successfully isolated and marginalized Syria during its term in office and supported Israeli military pre-emption against Syria's nuclear weapons facility staffed covertly by North Korean scientists. The Israeli attack on the Syrian reactor was opposed by Obama's nuclear non-proliferation expert, Joseph Cirincione. Does that reflect the kind of "change" Berman et al have in mind for us?
Hizbullah: Editorial claims that "Iranian support for Hizbullah has reached new heights" under Bush misrepresent one key fact - Hizbullah was created by Iran as its surrogate in Lebanon with Syrian support.
The Bush Doctrine: The Bush Administration carried out the most dramatic change in US Middle East policy in nearly a century by enacting the "Bush Doctrine," taking a pro-active role against Islamic terror and for democracy, greatly enhancing Israeli security in the process. Obama/Biden want to change this? To what?
The United Nations: Israel's security was further bolstered during the Bush years by US diplomatic support at the UN, particularly under the stewardship of a true friend of Israel, Ambassador John Bolton - whose nomination was vigorously opposed and ultimately torpedoed by both Obama and Biden. Just what "change" should we expect on this front, especially as Obama is committed to increasing US coordination of foreign policy with the EU and UN?
Iraq/Iran: Eliminating Saddam and his missile threat to Israel, as well as his generous cash sponsorship of conventional terror "martyrs" was itself a direct boon to Israel's safety. Israelis are no longer sealing their rooms and procuring gas masks.
In Iraq, the wildly successful "surge" championed by McCain-and opposed by Obama and Biden - has curtailed Iranian influence. An independent, American-allied Iraq, will serve to check Iranian regional ambitions-that is, unless Obama keeps his one consistent promise: to abandon Iraq as fast as possible, allowing it to fall into chaos, or worse-to al-Qaeda.
The current Administration has doggedly pursued a policy of isolating Iran internationally. That the Iranian nuclear threat continues to grow is not due to complacency in Washington, but to immoral greed of certain European states for Iranian commercial contracts and the cynical political moves of Russia, China and North Korea.
Obama proposes a "change" in this policy following what was originally an off-the-cuff - and off-the-wall - debate statement by promising - in his first year, without preconditions - direct negotiations with Ahmadinejad and his Holocaust-denying cohorts. An Obama administration would grant Iran instant legitimacy, where current US policy would withhold it. If the Europeans, Russians and Chinese are reluctant to resist the Iranians now, how can they be expected to do so when the US throws in the diplomatic towel?
Another theme appears in the Obama-is-good-for-the-Jews pieces: "Barack Obama is a true friend of Israel." Of course, there's never much evidence offered, just some repetition of the mantra that Obama is a "lifelong" (how do they know?) friend of Israel, or that "his commitment to Israel is deep and broad." Well, talk is cheap. There is disturbing evidence that his "love" may well be a campaign expedient-or, perhaps, highly conditional on Israel not electing a Likud government.
The recent statement by Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose son is co-chairman of the Obama campaign, may well be portentous: "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" will "lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House." Well, we suppose that constitutes "change." And do Obama's Jewish defenders really see nothing wrong with his connections to Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Rashi Khalidi? William Ayers? Samantha Power? Robert Malley? Zbigniew Brzezinski? At a minimum, what do these connections say about the judgment of a man with these associations?
It is telling that so many Americans here voted for McCain. Unlike Berman, Indyk, Eizenstat, and the rest of the Carter/Clinton/Oslo retreads maneuvering for Obama cabinet positions, safe and sound in their D.C. offices and think tanks, we on the front lines in Israel do not have the luxury of ignoring reality in the service of rank partisanship.
Last week, Biden "guaranteed" that an Obama Administration would be tested by an international crisis within its first six months. As a long-time member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he might actually know what he's talking about. Can this possibly be good for Israel?
We cannot support a political neophyte for President, or his loose-cannon VP, or his collection of foreign policy aides whose Israel-related views range from naÃ¯ve to hostile. We cast our vote for experience and common sense - Senator John McCain.
Marc Zell is an attorney practicing international law in Jerusalem. He is Co-Chairman of Republicans Abroad Israel. Abraham Katsman, an attorney, is Counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel