Romney must stop playing politics with Israel

Republicans want to use our relationship with Israel as part of a political game – which is terrible for US national security and bad for Israel’s safety.

Mitt Romney gives foreign policy speech in Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Mitt Romney gives foreign policy speech in Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
The rhetoric coming from Republicans and their presidential candidate, Governor Mitt Romney, concerning the US relationship with Israel is downright dangerous.
Republicans want to use our relationship with Israel as part of a political game – which is terrible for US national security and bad for Israel’s safety.
Since 1948, the United States and Israel have built a strong alliance that remains firm and unshakeable. To attempt to clumsily interfere with that is simply shameful. Republicans are distorting the state of US-Israel relations for partisan gain and sending the wrong signal to the rest of the world – a signal that could lead to threats against Israel’s security.
When you listen to Republicans – especially their presidential candidate Mitt Romney – discuss Israel, reality is often replaced with distortion and fantasy. Mitt Romney claims that the Obama administration has ignored Israel’s security needs and left it vulnerable – but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
President Obama shares my convictions about the enduring bond between Israel and the US. And when you look at the record, it is clear that there is no greater friend to Israel than this president.
Don’t trust my word? Look at the statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, who said that President Obama has done more for Israel’s security than any previous US administration. Ehud Barak is one of Israel’s most decorated military leaders. He understands Israel’s security.
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What about the word of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu? He called the Obama administration’s security policy for Israel “unprecedented.”
On the other hand, if you listen to Republicans here in the US, it sounds like President Obama has all but abandoned Israel’s security.
They are encouraging Israel’s enemies with their misrepresentations. To them, I say: Shame on you.
Governor Romney has demonstrated real ignorance about Israel and its security needs.
The prime example of this behavior is the Republican presidential nominee’s complete inability to articulate what his approach to Israel will be.
When asked about his policy toward Israel, Romney famously said he would, “Look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.” This is a terrifying statement. He says he wants to do the opposite of President Obama? Let’s examine what that would really mean.
Last September, when the Palestinian Authority tried to get the UN to recognize it as a sovereign state, President Obama stood strong and blocked that harmful maneuver. If we are to believe Mitt Romney – that he would do the “opposite” – then he would have allowed this unilateral action on Palestinian statehood at the UN to proceed.
Under President Obama, the US has sent Israel the largest-ever amount of military aid in American history, totaling more than $3 billion per year. And just a few days ago, President Obama signed into law a new bill that will strengthen US security cooperation with Israel even further. But again, if we are to believe Mitt Romney, he would have lowered Israeli aid and weakened Israel’s defenses against the threats it faces.
And perhaps most importantly, President Obama has stood absolutely firm in his resolve to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The Obama administration has been clear that all options are on the table to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threat to its neighbors. And the Obama administration has put in place the strongest sanctions ever against Iran – sanctions that have increasingly punished and isolated Iran.
But Mitt Romney says he will do the “opposite” – which means accepting a nuclear-armed Iran that threatens Israel’s very existence.
Israel continues to be threatened by rockets launched by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Iran appears intent on developing a nuclear weapon and is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism.
These are serious and complex problems that require real leadership – for the US and for Israel.
Instead of approaching these issues with the careful consideration they deserve, Mitt Romney and other Republicans follow the dangerous path of twisting reality for political gain.
It is long past time for them to stop.
Frank Lautenberg is a Democratic United States Senator from New Jersey.