Obama, Romney laughing funny 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Young)
What moves Israelis with American citizenship to vote in the American elections?
We are essentially concerned with two things: 1) The future direction of
American society and how that will affect our family and friends living in the
United States; and 2) The American-Israeli relationship and how it affects the
future of the State of Israel.
As we all know, 78 percent of American
Jews voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, and the polls indicate that over
70% of the American Jews will vote to reelect President Obama in 2012. There are
good reasons for this, and we living in Israel fully understand and identify
with them. President Obama and the Democratic Party stand for values that we
believe in, tikkun olam, the creation of a better world based upon civil and
human rights, the Four Freedoms described by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
– freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and
freedom from fear.
And today, those values are under attack. At the heart
of the 2012 elections is President Obama’s defense of the President Roosevelt’s
New Deal and President Johnson’s Great Society, and a preservation of the
separation of church and state which has created a secure space for the American
Jewish community to flourish. The Tea Partydriven Republican Party is
threatening to undermine women’s rights, Planned Parenthood, Medicaid and
Medicare, and in general to undermine the social safety net which helps to
secure the American people.
Don’t just take my word for this. The Salt
, in its endorsement of President Obama’s reelection, criticized
candidate Romney’s “servile courtship of the Tea Party” to win his party’s
nomination and called him “shameless” in pandering to various constituencies,
terming him the GOP’s “shape-shifting nominee.” And this is a newspaper
published in the home base of Romney’s Church of Latter Day Saints (the
We know who President Barack Obama is: a liberal centrist who
rescued the American economy preventing a decline from recession to depression
and plans to continue the job of growing the American economy, and who rebuilt
America’s standing in the world while withdrawing the troops from Iraq.
President Obama correctly believed that an economic stimulus package was needed
to save the American economy, and that what is needed today is to continue the
balance between creative individual initiative and responsible government
And what does candidate Romney believe? We really don’t know. Is
he the Romney of Massachusetts who promoted health care reform and women’s right
to choose, or the Romney of the primaries, who wants to repeal the health care
act and push back women’s rights? Is he the Romney of the primaries who wanted
to leave more American soldiers in Iraq, or of the debates who agrees with
Obama’s withdrawal plan from Iraq and Afghanistan? Is he the Romney who told
donors he doesn’t believe there’s a chance for Israeli-Palestinian peace or the
debate Romney who wants to move the peace process forward? And, oh yes, there is
also the trickledown economics that got us into the current mess, and let’s not
tax the upper 1% and the overseas investors, and the 47% of the American public
who he writes off.
As for Israel and America, we know where President
Obama stands. As so many senior Israeli figures have said, beginning with
President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the current
American-Israeli security partnership has reached an unprecedented level. And we
also know that President Obama is committed to trying once again to advance the
prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace – a fundamental interest for all of us
living in Israel if we want to secure the future of our children and
grandchildren – see comments about Obama’s commitment to Israel at
www.IsraelisOnObama.org prepared by Rabbi Susan Silverman (Sarah’s sister) who
lives in Jerusalem.
When candidate Romney came to Jerusalem, his primary
goal seemed to be to hug the donors who flew over from Las Vegas in Sheldon
Adelson’s private plane, and to put a note in the Western Wall asking for
victory in November. When Obama came as a candidate he went to the border town
of Sderot which was under fire from the Hamas missiles to express solidarity
with the people living there, and to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial to
express identification with the victims of the Holocaust, to promise “never
As for Romney, not only did he not find time to visit Yad Vashem,
he has not disassociated himself from the Mormon practice of posthumously
baptizing Jews who died in the Holocaust, a practice which Elie Wiesel, who is
on the list even though he is still with us, labeled “despicable.”
someone who served for eight months on the Golan Heights in the Combat
Engineering Corps during the Yom Kippur War and saw his fellow soldiers falling
around him, I identify with the observations of Efraim Halevy who served as
chief of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, under three prime ministers.
He said that Romney’s comments about Iran are “mortally destroying any chance of
a resolution without war” and are “a heavy blow to the ultimate interests of the
United States and Israel.”
And just one more point. The man who wins the
2012 election will appoint three Supreme Court justices, who will have a major
impact on the future direction of American society. Do any of us really want to
see a Supreme Court dominated by right-wing neo-con Tea Party judges for
generations to come?
Hillel Schenker is acting chair of Democrats Abroad –
Israel, and lives in Tel Aviv.