Game on

It’s a race to the polls in November, and anyone’s guess who’ll win. Sure, there are those who wager a bet on one side or another but with the proverbial rule book out the window, there’s really no telling what will happen.

What we do know is the parties are busy gearing up for election season. With their Conventions one week and one state apart, both the Democrats and Republicans are vying for showy, headline-catching platforms that basically don’t get them into trouble with their voting base. At the same time, both want to attract that elusive independent vote, so the game is on. And the stakes are high.

For us Americans living in the Middle East, foreign policy is high on the list of priorities when we go to the polls. And the Democrats made it all too clear last week that they celebrate the opportunity to clamp down on Israeli government policies. Their platform committee all but rejected the democratically elected Netanyahu government own platform, attempting to invoke criticism of ‘occupation and illegal settlements’, deciding that what’s best for Israel is a “two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” that guarantees Israel’s security with recognized borders “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

This, coming from one of two major parties ruling the United States of America, the country that is supposedly Israel’s strongest ally and certainly benefits the most from Israeli democracy and sanity in a sea of violence.

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At least there’s another chance with the Republicans. Traditionally, as you’ve read elsewhere, their foreign policy is more conservative and supportive of the Israeli government decisions over the years. The political leadership of both Houses have tended to provide across-the- board support for the Likud governments and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy making. And they have repeatedly stood in unequivocal solidarity with Israel.

It is, ironically yet not surprisingly, the voices of organizations based in America self-defined as pro-Israel, who are pressuring the Republicans to dial it back. As reported in numerous interviews over the past few days, Jewish leaders urged the Democrats to stick to their judgmental platform, stating that Israel must adopt policies that are not akin to its current government guidelines. And they gleefully did. For details, see:here.

Now for the Republicans: These self-interest groups seek to level the playing field and keep a low-key profile while aggressively pushing to adopt platforms on Israel that differ from that of the democratically-elected Netanyahu government. Where else have interest groups dared to challenge the policies of their allies, and even work to undermine their credibility and security?

This is preposterous, if not subversive and harmful to the US-Israel relationship. Two countries who rely on each other for so much — with economic, diplomatic, and technological ties almost unrivaled — should adopt policies that support the other. That is, the Israeli government reflects the democratic will of the Israeli people.

Our policies are formatted and implemented in carefully crafted agreements. We in Israel expect American to support us. Period. We work for peace. We promote democracy in a sea of ‘other’ — just take a look at the map. We care about our residents and do our best in the face of many threats, hatred and terrorism from our neighbors.

Those are our children, siblings, husbands who put their lives on the line. No need to lecture us on the value of life, and the quest for peace. To question our goals is simply insulting, and actually harmful, proving an obstacle to achieving agreements rather than a promotion of these values.

A supportive echo of the official Israeli Government Guidelines is what we expect from our friends and allies. Israel has the right to security. To its sovereignty. To an undivided Jerusalem. To a land united, not split further and further into dangerous terrorist states. It’s that simple.

The voices of unequivocal support for Israel have been heard loud and clear in the halls of Congress over the years. The efforts of grassroots organizations perhaps less well known but with close ties to the Israeli Government and based on our shared Judeo-Christian values, have made great waves that are spreading through the  GOP platform efforts. The Iron Dome Alliance and our Republicans Overseas Israel chapter have overseen Platform efforts in a call to support Israeli Government policy. Yours truly continues to be in touch with Committee Members on the details, and we are thankful for these bold friendships.

It’s game-on for the conventions, and so far the Democrats are down on the pro-Israel scale by one. Let’s hope the GOP can save America’s reputation as a staunch friend of Israel in these current platform talks.

Reports from the inside hint that this is indeed the case. Stay tuned for more in-depth reporting as we report as special guests at the GOP convention next week.

About the Author
Ruth Lieberman is an Israeli-based political consultant and licensed tour guide, combining her love of Israel with political acumen to better Israel's standing both at home and in the eyes of the world. She has consulted for political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington, from work on election campaigns to public advocacy and events. Her tours in Israel connect Biblical history to modern realities, to highlight Israel's achievements and promote its policies.