Absent of Context

I know I’m not an expert, and that my wisdom doesn’t even come close to exceeding my years. However, I have always found it imperative to seek out the truth, especially when I care about something. And Israel remains one of the most important things in my life. Therefore, I always find it to be one of the main factors affecting my vote in a U.S. election.

Reading Professor Steven L. Spiegel’s article, though, I couldn’t help but cringe. This was a man published by the Times of Israel and later by the Huffington Post, who had this immense platform to influence the public for the betterment of the state of Israel, and instead decided to advocate falsities. I couldn’t understand it. Therefore, this article is dedicated to rectifying all that he wrote so that maybe some of you will go into this election with a factual head, and not one full of absent context.

Firstly, I’m not so much understanding why he begins by comparing Obama to other US presidents. Yes, it is lovely that a lot of other presidents weren’t big fans of Israel either. So lovely that in fact I am happy he brought it to my attention so that I can indeed be thankful that the last four years of Obama’s presidency didn’t completely wipe Israel off the map. However, did I have a say in the past? For most of the presidents he mentioned, I wasn’t even alive to know the difference. But I do have a say now. And I feel that if I want a safe and secure Jewish state, Obama has not used the last four years to prove to me that he will ensure that. So I’d rather take my chances with someone new, than rely on someone who didn’t take advantage of four full years of chances.

Spiegel then continues to mention how Obama set up the strongest military relationship Israel has ever had with the US and that he also continued to give her foreign aid. However, he neglects to mention that the amount of foreign aid given to Israel was set up as the standard by past governments. He also refrains from stating that Israel has to spend most of the aid from the US on US goods and weapons. So by Obama giving Israel aid, he’s more making an investment in America’s hurting economy, than anything else.

Another thing Spiegel dwells upon is Obama’s statement in the third presidential debate where the President stated, “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked [by Iran].” What the writer fails to recognize is the context of that question. Obama had been asked that if Israel struck Iran, would Obama join the war that would inevitably ensue. Obama did not say he would unite with Israel militarily. Just that he would “stand with Israel.” One can stand by a friend as they are getting pummeled. Obama’s statement is a noncommittal, empty promise, one that doesn’t hold much weight for me, or my vote.

Spiegel then rattles off a barrage of facts that the Obama administration did for Israel, all true. However, the administration does not necessarily mean Obama did any of those things willingly. Of course the administration would want to maintain its one Western ally in the tumultuous Middle East region. So it would vote against blatantly false and anti-Israel propaganda spurned by the UN. As long as America’s oil interests are safe and the American wallet wasn’t taxed completely by overbearing gas prices, the US could do what it had always done in past years. It wasn’t difficult.

What it could also do on the side though, was meet and accept the Arab Spring. It could endorse the radical Islamist political group, the Muslim Brotherhood. It could also go on an “apology tour” to all the Arab nations and lose ounces of unredeemable respect among the nations of the world. It would lose its position as a world power, as Obama went from country to country pleading with them to understand that he plans to ensure that “daylight” will be put between the US and Israel, so they needn’t worry that the alliance is everlasting.

I cannot take away that the writer acknowledges the fact that Obama and Netanyahu’s relationship is far from acceptable. Obama has gone so far as to conference with the French president on their mutual dislike of the Israel Prime Minister. However, by comparing Obama to Reagan, Spiegel fails to recognize that it took years for the US to approve of the Israeli strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor. That situation cannot be compared to the current one with Iran, as Obama has yet to endorse anything but sanctions. But, if sanctions don’t work, and Israel must make a move, I do not believe that Obama will stand by her militarily. He hasn’t shown his support for such an action at all, while Romney has. Therefore, I trust Romney to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish state more so than the current president.

However, the fact that Netanyahu withdrew his red line statement he gave at the UN conference a couple of months ago is simply false. Netanyahu and Obama have yet to agree on when the proper time for military action will be. And I do not believe that Obama will have advanced warning of an attack if and when Israel does choose to do so. Their relationship is beyond stale, to say the least. In a recent statement, Obama mentioned, “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel, and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.” Netanyahu is Likud, and the new Israeli government to be elected this January will inevitably be more right than before. If Obama is reelected, that cannot spell good relations for Israel and the US. Even Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” That means flexibility on everything.

Last but not least, when Siegel writes of the embargo during Israel’s “War of Liberation,” I could barely believe his word choice myself. Liberation? Israel was defending its right to exist given by a UN Mandate. There was no “war of liberation.” There was a war of independence. An independence it intends to keep, if it can sustain itself in that. An independence you, as an American voter have a say in. And, now that you have the context of the facts, I hope you make the right decision. May the best man win.

About the Author
Melanie Goldberg is a current student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She also serves as the research assistant for Versa: The Israeli Supreme Court English Language Repository, and founded a chapter of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights on her campus. Most recently, she was one of the recipients of The Jewish Week's "36 under 36" award.