Romney, Panetta’s Israel trips hit election ads

A 30-second pro-Romney advertisement is already hitting the airwaves in Florida.

Mitt Romney delivers speech in Jerusalem 370 (R) (photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Mitt Romney delivers speech in Jerusalem 370 (R)
(photo credit: Jason Reed / Reuters)
Well, that sure didn’t take long.
Just three days after presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney left the country, a conservative pro-Israel advocacy group called the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) had a 30-second pro-Romney advertisement prepared and ready for broadcast this weekend in Florida – a key battleground state with a relatively large percentage of Jewish voters.
And, of course, footage of Romney delivering a speech Sunday in front of the Old City walls, and his visit to the Western Wall, figured prominently.
But the Romney advertisement was not out there alone. The office of Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv had a three-minute video on YouTube within 24 hours of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s departure from Israel, emphasizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak lauding Israeli-American security cooperation.
The ECI ad, which the organization announced would air hundreds of times in the coming days in Florida, begins with a deep voiced announcer asking, “What’s the capital of Israel? President [Barack] Obama is embarrassed to say.”
The ad then shows a White House spokesman fumbling over the question of what is Israel’s capital, followed by a shot of Romney, at his speech Sunday, saying: “It is a deeply moving experience being in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
“Next year President Mitt Romney in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” the ad concludes, as a picture of Romney, eyes closed, is seen touching the Western Wall.
Those quick to wring their hands over this advertisement would do well to look at the very professional video uploaded on Thursday by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The video, which begins with dramatic music and shots of Panetta stepping off a US Air Force jet, is titled “Rock Solid Commitment – US Secretary of Defense Panetta’s Visit to Israel.”
It shows him reviewing an honor guard with Barak, and then saying, “We are friends, we are partners, we have – as the defense minister pointed out – probably the strongest US-Israel defense relationship that we have had in history.”
It also shows Panetta warmly shaking hands with Netanyahu, and the prime minister saying that he wanted to “use this opportunity to thank you, President Obama, and the American Congress for enhancing the strategic relationship between our two countries. In this time of great instability in our region, the strong, bipartisan message of support for Israel is deeply appreciated.”
The video also features footage of Panetta’s visit Wednesday to the Iron Dome battery near Ashkelon, where he said “The Israeli people should know that the United States stands with them in this fight and the fight to ensure peace in this region, and that we have a rock solid commitment to Israel’s security and to the security of its citizens.”
In a related development, Romney on Thursday launched the Jewish Americans for Romney coalition and defended his citation earlier this week in Jerusalem of “culture” to explain the economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians.
“The Jewish community has made contributions to American society that stand in amazing disproportion to its numbers, and I am genuinely honored to have so many of its leading thinkers, diplomats and political leaders support my campaign,” Romney said in an announcement released Tuesday through his presidential campaign.
In a separate release, Romney continued to defend his comment during his Jerusalem trip that culture is the reason Israel is more prosperous than the Palestinian areas.
Palestinians slammed Romney’s remarks as racist and as willfully ignoring the limitations imposed upon them by Israel’s occupation.
“Like the United States, the State of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law,” Romney said in the release. “It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic.
This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.”

JTA contributed to this report.