America: Main Course or Side Dish?

As an American Jew, Israel was always a lively topic of conversation in our house. My parents, grandparents and their friends would discuss American and Israeli politics around the dinner table, over cake, around the card table, next to the pool, at the deli.

You get the idea.

Invariably any talk about what was going on in American politics always included a chapter that I like to call ‘what’s good for Israel’. What’s good for Israel was worked into everything from Watergate to Vietnam to the Iran Hostage Crisis. My parents and the people I grew up around always considered how anything going on in America would effect Israel. It was a factor in deciding who to vote for in a Presidential election, in evaluating a Presidents’ or other national politician’s performance.

And to be honest I don’t know an American Jew who doesn’t look at American politics at least a little bit through the lens of an Israeli flag.

I’m the first to admit that I have never been completely happy with Obama’s attitude toward Israel. Four years ago I was a Hillary supporter and when she pulled out of the race, I had a dilemma. McCain was clearly more openly pro-Israel than Obama, yet on every other issue the Republican policies and attitudes seemed to put America on a collision course to disaster and if anything, over the course of the last four years it has gotten worse. Yes, Romney supports a strong Israel. And yes, Romney is more vocal about it.

I am a Democrat who has been disappointed by Obama’s first term. I expected change and didn’t get it because somewhere along the way Obama prioritized his political survival and reelection over the change he was so passionate about, he started compromising to try and win something off the right or maybe he is just smarter than all of us and saw the writing on the wall that he couldn’t enact change until his second term.

Yes, Romney and the Republicans are more publicly supportive toward Israel, they seem more willing to blindly accept anything that Bibi does, and let’s face it: Obama’s tactics of placating the Palestinians while holding Israel’s feet to the fire aren’t getting anyone around a table.

The first time I voted in a Presidential election it was, ahem, 1984 (yes, I realize that makes me 212 years old). In that election and in many of the ones that followed I exercised my right to vote and I voted for the candidate that I thought would do the best job for the country but I also chose the candidate that I thought was best for Israel.

And honestly on that checklist of mine, the candidate was best for Israel was my top consideration in deciding whom to vote for. And I have been lucky, most of the time, the same candidate who I thought was better both for Israel and the US was one and the the same. So, it didn’t make that much of a difference if I ranked a candidate’s position on Israel and Middle East position as the higher benchmark.

America is on the edge of a very important crossroads, the last 3 or 4 elections and what has happened in between has brought us to this point. Our country is at risk of losing the very thing about America which makes us a great nation. We are at risk of losing the promise of America. The promise that anyone, from any kind of background can, with hard work, ambition and determination improve their lot in life, that your position in life does not rely on your name but your drive.

Obama is not making Israel a regular part of his stump speeches, he is not unequivocally supporting Bibi’s actions no matter what. Obama’s support is quieter (yes, sometimes too quiet) but it is there. He has requested more in security assistance for Israel than any other US President $3.1 billion for 2013 including $70 million for the Iron Dome Program. Sanctions against Iran are working, Iranian currency has lost over half it’s value. Yes, he has been critical of some of Israel’s actions and he does not blindly accept all the actions of the Israeli Government, and yes, he and Bibi may not have the relationship that Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin had. That’s all true.

But America is at risk, we are at risk of losing the very thing that made us a great nation in the first place. Without that, we can’t help Israel or ourselves.

It’s time to put America first at the polls in November.


About the Author
Dana has made it her habit to break cultural barriers and butcher languages wherever she goes. Born in Pittsburgh, Dana lived and worked in Tel Aviv for five years, before moving to the Netherlands where she lives with her husband and daughter in Amsterdam.