After reading the title of Liam Hoare’s recent Times of Israel article, “On Israel, exposing Romney’s dirty tricks,” one would expects to see evidence that Mitt Romney is using shady tactics to fool the world into thinking he is a staunch supporter of Israel. But in the actual article, Hoare argues not that Romney is up to dirty tricks, but that President Obama hasn’t really been bad for Israel.

Hoare leaves out key information about Obama’s record, in a poor attempt to defend the administration’s decisions, and compares the Bush administration to the Obama administration as if that somehow demonstrates that Romney is weaker on Israel than Obama.

At the outset, Hoare brings up anti-Semitic comments made by someone in the Bush administration, yet completely ignores the hateful and racist statements by Obama mentor Jeremiah Wright. Both comments (or in Wright’s case, multiple comments) are distasteful, but to act as if one administration’s association with people who make anti-Semitic remarks is bad while the other’s is acceptable is hypocritical.

Now let me be clear (to add some Obama-esque rhetoric to my article), despite the strong US-Israel relationship and record-high support for cooperative military strategy like the Iron Dome (which is largely a result of the Republican-led Congress — Obama shouldn’t be taking so much credit), President Obama is weak on Israel.

Let’s start at the beginning of Obama’s presidency. Does a president who supports Israel choose his first international address in office as an opportunity to condemn Israel?

Hoare argues that Obama’s policy is no different from Bush’s, but this is incorrect. In addition to the letter from Bush in 2004, in which he states that demanding that Israel return to the 1967 armistice lines is unrealistic, AFP has reported that, “breaking from policies of his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama also rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to halt West Bank settlement expansion and reiterated his backing for a two-state solution.” (emphasis mine)

Does a president who supports Israel allow his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to override a congressional ban on aid to Gaza and the West Bank due to associations with terrorist organizations?

Clinton claimed it was necessary for the well-being of the Palestinian people, but the Palestinians enjoy more foreign aid per capita than anywhere else in the world. Not to mention the fact that Gaza is run by a US-designated terrorist organization.

Does a president who supports Israel continue to condemn settlements to Israel’s enemies and the United Nations?

In Indonesia, a country which Israelis are not even allowed to enter, Obama again condemned Israeli settlements. In the UN — although the Obama administration vetoed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements — the US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice proceeded to strongly condemn Israel to the UN. ”We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” said Rice.

Does a president who supports Israel have to be dragged kicking and screaming into sanctioning sworn enemies who threaten to annihilate the only Jewish state? Most people aren’t aware of the fact that Obama opposed sanctioning the central bank of Iran. The reason he caved was because of the overwhelming support from Congress (Republican-led, I might add). Now, however, he has the audacity to tout this as an example of his “support” for Israel. Sounds like a dirty trick to me.

Finally, does a president who supports Israel set preconditions on the Israelis and frame the conflict so as to imply that the responsibility for the conflict belongs to Israel? Obama’s immense pressure on Israel to halt settlements gives the world the false impression that settlements are the problem. Settlements are not the problem. At worst, they are a problem (that’s an argument for another time), but they are not the primary obstacle to peace. After Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a ten-month settlement freeze during which the Palestinians refused to come to the negotiating table, instead of using his power to pressure the Palestinians into renouncing terror and recognizing the Jewish state of Israel, Obama chose to demand another settlement freeze. 

Now this is not to say that the Bush administration was flawless in its policy toward Israel, or that other Republican administrations have not condemned Israel on settlements or other issues. Yet, despite the actions of previous administrations, to claim that Obama is strong on Israel is false.

I’m afraid the only “dirty tricks” are being played by Obama, who prances around the United States claiming he “has Israel’s back.” Do these actions sound like those of a president who has Israel’s back?

If Mr. Hoare wants to condemn Romney when it comes to Israel, perhaps he should provide some evidence. But to be fair, this would be a lot easier to do if there was actually anything to condemn about Mitt Romney when it comes to Israel.

 

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