“Americans who support Israel should take the president at his word,” wrote Haim Saban recently in The New York Times, claiming President Barack Obama is fully committed to the Jewish state.
But is that true? Should we take him at his word? No, not when Israel confronts the threat of nuclear annihilation by Iran.
Time and again President Obama has signaled a lack of sympathy — or even outright hostility — toward Israel. Not long ago, he was caught on an open microphone agreeing with former French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s slurring of the Israeli prime minister. And there was his public snubbing of the Israeli leader’s request to discuss Iran during a recent U.S. visit, a measure Reuters termed “a highly unusual rebuff to a close ally.”
Last month, former U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who attended several of Obama’s meetings with Netanyahu, admitted “there are serious differences between our interests and Israel’s own security interests.” All this certainly raises questions about Obama’s sincerity when he publicly says he’ll “always have Israel’s back.”
Nor are these the only times the president has left American voters wondering where he really stands on foreign relations. Earllier this year, he was inadvertently recorded asking former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for “space” until his re-election, when he’d have more “flexibility” on missile defense. Given that Obama’s public expressions are not something Israelis can rely upon, we need to seriously ask: What are his second-term plans when he no longer needs the Jewish vote?
Obama’s supporters tell us there’s nothing to worry about. He can be trusted, they say, because of his record of military aid to Israel and his support for sanctions against Iran. But he cannot rightly take credit for this aid because it was committed in programs under previous administrations, just as he cannot take credit for merely signing pro-Israel legislation that had bipartisan congressional support. In the past few years, his budgets have proposed significant cuts in U.S.-Israel missile defense funds.
Even worse, the Iranian sanctions contain loopholes that, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, “you could drive a warhead through.” All 20 of Iran’s major trading partners enjoy sanction exemptions. They won’t stop Iran’s nuclear program.
When Obama took office, he admitted his administration sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel. He lectured that the Jewish state needed “to engage in serious self-reflection” about peace — as if tiny Israel has not spent decades pursuing peace with its belligerent neighbors.
Not since 1967 has Israel’s safety been more precarious. Iran is racing for a nuclear bomb while bragging they only need “24 hours and an excuse” to destroy the Jewish state. Egypt is lost to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth in Lebanon. Turkey’s government is more foe than friend. The “Arab Spring” continues to usher extremists into power. And Hamas rules Gaza.
All the while, the United Nations never misses a chance to denounce the Jewish state; Western universities support boycotts of Israel; and a sizable portion of the Democratic Party protests including Jerusalem in the party platform.
In these times, it is necessary to elect a commander-in-chief whose words we can trust. Mitt Romney is a much safer choice. Unlike Obama, he not only understands Israel’s predicament, he actually likes the country.
Jews shouldn’t support Romney just because he is more reliable on Israel. But neither should they dismiss him because they don’t agree with his every position. When the Jewish homeland is at stake, we must not let ourselves be fooled by Obama’s oration skills. Nor can we afford to ignore his troubling track record on Israel. For Obama, the issue is only political; for Israel, it’s a matter of survival.
Sheldon G. Adelson is an international businessman and philanthropist who donated $10 million to the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC.