Steve Sheffey
Pro-Israel writer and activist

But does he feel it in his kishkes?

He sometimes says the right things about Israel, but does he feel it in his kishkes? I’m beginning to wonder. Let’s start by looking at his advisors and associates:

Walid Phares, the co-chair of his Middle East advisory group, was a high-ranking official in a religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon’s civil war.

Fred Malek, who gave Richard Nixon the names of Jews targeted for removal from government jobs, hosted a major fundraising event for him. Timothy Noah noted that “Malek oversaw what we can probably call the last official act of anti-Semitism ever undertaken by the United States government.”

Spokesman John Sununu was “the only one of the 50 governors who refused to sign a 1987 proclamation saluting the 90th anniversary of Zionism and calling on the United Nations to rescind its Zionism-racism resolution.”

Foreign aid is a cornerstone of the pro-Israel agenda, yet when asked about foreign aid in a debate, and then when asked again a week later by the Republican Jewish Coalition, he either chose not to mention, or was unaware of, the Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel.

Instead of explaining to the American people why foreign aid in general, and foreign aid to Israel in particular, is so important and yet such a small portion of the federal budget, he simply agreed with Rick Perry that foreign aid should reexamined from zero.

And experience? He never served a day in Congress. He has less experience in public service than any modern presidential candidate. If elected he would be the third least-experienced president ever, trailing only Woodrow Wilson and Grover Cleveland.

Of course, I’m talking about Mitt Romney. Our hypocritical friends on the right who told us in 2008 to be wary of Barack Obama don’t seem too concerned about Romney’s advisors and inexperience.

Daniel Larison, commenting on Adam Serwer’s profile of Walid Phares and the attempts by Romney supporters to defend Phares, said that

I had thought that the manufactured outrage over Obama’s rather tenuous connection to Rashid Khalidi was just election-year opportunism back in 2008, but perhaps there are people so confused about Obama’s position on Israel that they could believe that Obama has followed policy advice from Khalidi. In any case, the differences between the two examples couldn’t be more obvious. Romney made Phares a Middle East co-chair, and it is more than likely that Phares can expect to receive an appointment in a Romney administration. Khalidi never held any advisory position with Obama’s campaign, and there was not the slightest chance that Khalidi would have ever been in a position to influence U.S. policy.

Candidate Obama forcefully condemned Rev. Wright in a speech rightfully considered one of the greatest speeches on race relations ever given by a presidential candidate. Romney—who was an official in his church, not simply a congregant—still refuses to address Elie Wiesel’s concerns about Mormon posthumous baptisms of Jews and still refuses to say whether he personally participated in any posthumous baptisms.

President Obama is running for re-election with a strong record of support for Israel against an inexperienced candidate with virtually no record on Israel, plenty of questionable statements and associates, and a belief that “doing the opposite” is a policy statement.

Based on the criteria our Republican friends provided in 2008, 2012 should be an easy choice for pro-Israel voters.

About the Author
Steve Sheffey is active in the Chicago-area Jewish and pro-Israel political communities and is the Strategy and Policy Advisor for the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA). He writes and publishes the Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update. The views he expresses on this blog are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organizations he is or has been associated with.