Commentary on the Commentary: Romney in Israel

Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel dominated both headlines and opinion pages.

Mitt Romney puts a note in the Western Wall (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Mitt Romney puts a note in the Western Wall
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel this week didn’t only dominate the headlines, but also the opinion pages. During the overseas trip designed to beef up his foreign policy credentials, Romney was lambasted in London and his press secretary caused some controversy in Poland. In Israel, however, he was greeted with a warm welcome by politicians and the public.
Among the voices chiming in on the presidential hopeful was famed jurist and Israel supporter Alan Dershowitz, who wrote a compelling op-ed arguing that despite everything, Obama is still the best choice for US president. Kenneth Wald, a professor at the University of Florida, noted that “since 1992, Jewish backing for Democrats has risen compared to previous decades – and there is no concrete reason to believe any hype about lasting or sustained gains for Republicans.”
But Republicans and others, including noted syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, objected to this interpretation. Likud MK Danny Danon wrote that Mitt Romney should be regarded as a true friend of Israel and Republicans in Israel head Abe Katsman also wrote an op-ed supporting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Joel Pollak of also asserted that “for pro-Israel voters, the GOP candidate is the right choice.”
Moving beyond American politics, which sometimes seem to inordinately dominate Israel’s media, there was a nice package this week about Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since 1948, most countries in the world have refused to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because the UN Partition plan envisioned an “international” city. But two weeks ago when the BBC refused to list Israel’s capital, yet nonetheless designated east Jerusalem as “Palestine’s” capital, many people were angry at the bias.
Betty Herschman of Ir Amim, however, argued that countries and the media could only recognize the city as Israel’s capital once the conflict is resolved and the lives of those in east Jerusalem are improved. Daniel Tauber of Likud Anglos disagreed, asserting that American policy bears no relations to negotiations and is stuck in the past.
Of course events in the region also bear on what is happening in Israel. Two articles on Western foreign policy and Islamism this week both addressed concerns that Islamist parties are on the rise in the region. Evidence for this can be found in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and elsewhere.
The week ended on a positive note with the arrival of Tu Be’Av, the Jewish holiday of love. Drawing lessons from history, Stephen Rosenberg of the Albright Institute in Jerusalem noted, “How such a ritual [of girls dancing in the field] came to Shiloh in the 12th century BCE is another matter, but it could have been the residue of a Canaanite custom that had persisted at Shiloh.”
The week draws to an end with a huge conflict brewing over the budget. But what got many Jerusalemites excited was the yearly Wine Festival at the Israel Museum. As I write this, I’m preparing for a night of revelry there. Of course it will not appear in the pages of the Opeds, because how can anyone have a negative opinion about all-you-can-drink wine?
The writer is The Jerusalem Post's Op-ed editor