Obama has been Israel’s friend
By Gary Rotto
SAN DIEGO — This is a full throated endorsement of the re-election of Barack Obama. Why? Well, let’s look at what he has achieved:
- Hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden; But the President understands that the fight against terrorism and Al Qa’ida is not over. In his National Security Strategy, the President outlines nine points to “Disrupt, Dismantle, and Defeat Al-Qa’ida and its Violent Extremist Affiliates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Around the World”. As Press Secretary Jay Carney said on October 18th, “al Qa’ida remains our number-one enemy and our number-one foe.”
- Provided $275 million in supplemental funding to develop the Iron Dome missile defense system. This is the system that intercepts missiles in midair launched by Hamas from Gaza into Israel.
- Assured Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) by supporting such additional projects at the Arrow and David’s sling missile system. If you are an active member of AIPAC, then you know that this is the central question that is asked of all congressional candidates: Will you support maintaining Israel’s QME if elected to office. For this president, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
- Included over $3 billion in military assistance to Israel in the foreign aid recommendations. This is the largest sum of any American Administration
- Signed the US- Israel Enhanced Security Act
- Sold bunker buster bombs and F-35 fighter planes and fast tracked arms sales to Israel
- Increased and enhanced joint military exercises with Israel such as in the 2009 Juniper Cobra and 2012 Austere Challenge exercises. Elements of Austere Challenge were overseen by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. The exercise included over 3,500 Americans and 1,000 Israelis testing American and Israeli air defense systems ability to intercept attacks from as far away as Iran. (AP 10/28/12)
- Forcefully opposed the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State
- Lead the push for United Nations Security Council resolution 1929, creating the most comprehensive and biting international sanctions regime the Iranian government has ever faced.
- Worked with Congress to pass in 2010 the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act
- Developed Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which makes sanctionable many transactions involving the Central Bank of Iran.
- Worked with the European Union for a full embargo of Iranian oil, denying Iran of that sales revenue
- Signed an Executive Order blocking property of the government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions.
- Voted with Israel 100% of the time at the UN. This has not happened in any other American Administration
- Asserted Israel’s right to self defense including against the Gaza flotilla.
- Intervened to rescue Israel’s diplomats in Cairo during the attack on the Israeli Embassy.
- Ordered that Israel receive “whatever it need” in response to the devastating Carmel fires
- Consistently demanded that Hamas accept Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to all existing agreements before it can play a role in achieving Middle East peace.”
Ok, so he has a prickly relationship with Bibi. How many people don’t? From this list, it doesn’t look that that has gotten in the way of assisting Israel anyway and every way it needs. Or in continuing to exhaust diplomatic measures on Iran before resorting to the military option. As Jeffrey Goldberg of the The Atlantic magazine notes, the President has said that “All options are on the table” at least 50, if not 100 times.
Let’s take a look at the actions of other presidents:
When the President George HW Bush had disagreements with Israel over its settlement policy, he threatened to withhold loan guarantees from Israel.
President Reagan did not visit during his administration though he was a friend of Israel. He suspended F-16 sales to Israel after Israel bombed the Osirik reactor. And he pushed through the Reagan Plan above Prime Minister Menachem Begin strong objections.
So to compare presidencies, I haven’t heard of the Obama Administration threatening to withhold any funding though it had concerns about settlement expansion, impose any peace plans or solutions, and President Obama has visited Israel as often as the President Reagan even with a term to spare. (By the way, President George W. Bush, “Bush 43” as he is often called, didn’t visit Israel until the 7th year of his administration.)
Ambassador Dennis Ross, who served both Republican and Democratic Presidents said at a recent community forum that, “What we do security wise today is at an unprecedented level: the high level meetings; the ongoing assessments; the discussion on the region; the kind of exercises we do with each other; the scope of the overall military cooperation between the militaries.” And he added that “During 2011, every week, we had a high level delegation from our side or their side either in Washington or in Israel.” He also added that this was because the Obama Administration recognized that the commitment to Israel is both “for” and “with” Israel. “For” reflects the willing to assist Israel. “Because it reflects our mutual interest in that it offers something to us,” is how he described the “For”.
And let me point out again, who did Prime Minister Netanyahu turn to at times of crisis, specifically with the Israeli Embassy was about to be overrun or at the time of the flotilla? He called President Obama who responded immediately on both occasions to support Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I requested his assistance at a decisive—I would even say fateful—moment. He said he would do everything possible, and this is what he did. He activated all of the United States’ means and influence — which are certainly considerable. I believe we owe him a special debt of gratitude.”
But I’m concerned about more than Israel. Yes, the survival of Israel is vitally important to me. But so is Tikun Olan – Building Better World both at home and abroad. I express this through my concern about the environment, my concern for reproductive choice and my concern for every human life – for providing access to health care.
Should an oil pipeline be built over a vital aquifer that farmers depend upon for water? The Obama Administration rejected the first route proposed which depended on the pipeline traveling over areas where the groundwater lies under porous grasslands. TransCanada has proposed a different route. In fact, as part of the environmental process, TransCanada has to come up with several alternatives. In fact, here is what TransCanada says about the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SER) in its website: “The route included in the SER crosses fewer miles of threatened and endangered species habitat, fewer streams and rivers and considerably fewer miles of severely wind erodible soils”.
Hmmm, sounds like it is a good idea to not rubber stamp a company’s plan and that maybe with good oversight and input, a better plan can be created that provides the opportunity for a better pipeline, the possibility of new pipeline construction jobs and an additional domestic source of oil. Looks like the Obama Administration’s decision to reject the original route leads to a better plan.
Speaking of energy, which President Obama has taken heat for the failure of Solyndra, but of those alternative energy companies that received federal loans only 10% went out of business. Contrast that to the 22% of companies that “either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses,” as reported in the Wall Street Journal. And the report adds that “An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost.” So who’s picking the losers when investing money? Looks like Mr. Romney was picking the “losers and losers”.
In the San Diego Jewish World, Norman Greene writes “I keep asking myself, Who is Mitt Romney? But his character seems as vacuous as his smile. After six years of openly running for the office, I still don’t know the man.” But, on reproductive choice, I do know his running mate Paul Ryan. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported during his initial run for Congress that “Ryan, a 28-year-old first-time candidate, said he has consistently opposed legal abortion and makes only one exception — cases in which a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother’s life.” Note no exception for cases of rape or incest. And Ryan has followed that up by co-sponsored legislation called “The Sanctity of Human Life Act,” which a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood. The co-sponsor is Representative Todd Akin of Missouri. Yes, that Todd Akin. I’m waiting for Richard Mourdock to endorse the bill as well.
President Obama deserves a second term. I don’t know what more we want out of him regarding support of Israel? And as far as the alternative, the domestic policies of his opponents have me very, very concerned.
Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=32222