To communicate the concerns and interests of the Jewish community during the electoral process by providing information about the position of the candidates towards Israel’s security and the views of Jewish leaders about America’s mission in the world. The purpose is not to endorse or recommend any particular social or economic policy but rather to address the concerns of the Jewish voters concerning the State of Israel and the preservation of authentic Biblical values. We clearly deny the impression created by Rabbis for Obama that American Jews want “daylight” between America and Israel, as Obama declared, or that the social views espoused by these Rabbis are rooted in our authentic tradition or are the official position of American Jewry.
ISSUES OF CONCERN: ISRAEL
Who is the better candidate to protect the safety of Israel?
Obama’s views were formed early on. He first came under the influence of Rabbi Arnold Wolf and other progressive Jews. Rabbi Wolf met with Yassir Arafat long before the latter had renounced terrorism and he was one of Obama’s earliest supporters. Wolf described Obama’s views as “on the line of Peace Now.” He also cultivated friendships with other notorious haters of Israel such as the former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, University of Chicago professor and PLO official Rashid Khalidi and of course the rancorous Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Another Jewish mentor was Bettylu Saltzman, who still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups and active with J Street. She introduced Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to the New Israel Fund. The question is, who the real Obama is: the one who presents himself as a mainstream friend of Israel or the follower of these mentors. Is Obama being honest with us or just “holding his tongue and biding his time?”
The Rabbis for Obama includes rabbis like Lynn Gottlieb who has met with Ahmadinejad, and sits on the Board of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that has been listed as one of the “Top Ten Anti-Israel groups” by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)” These rabbis want Obama to continue pressuring Israel to make concessions that will endanger her security and the safety of her citizens.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN A SECOND TERM?
There are serious questions about what this administration will do in a second term. Obama’s sympathies for the Arab causes appear slowly but clearly. This is the president who called, in his Cairo speech, the Muslim call to prayer “the sweetest sound on earth.” This sympathy for the Arab society has some serious implications. Among them is that by wanting to appease the Arabs, Obama has ignored the threats to Americans as evidenced in the latest debacle in Benghazi that resulted in the murder of the US ambassador. His attitude to terrorists and especially to releasing them from US custody is also very telling. In a case that should bring chill down the spines of every American, there is even a move to release one of the most notorious purveyors of terror in the world. Judge Michael Mukasey, who presided over the trial of the Blind Sheikh, writes that this administration may be seriously considering transferring Abdel Rahman to Egypt. Rahman was convicted in 1995 of participating in a seditious conspiracy that included the murder of Meir Kahane, the 193 WTC bombing and a plot to blow other landmarks in New York. He is the inspiration for many jihad acts of terror, a theologian of terrorism around the world. In June, our government issued a visa to a member of a terrorist group who visited the White House to urge the release of the Sheikh.
Hillary Clinton traveled to Egypt in July to meet President Mohammed Morsi and invite him to the US. Mr. Morsi, an avowed Islamist, has promised to seek the release of the Blind Sheikh and declared his intention to “liberate” Jerusalem.
Although the Administration is laying low before the elections and pandering to Jewish voters, we fear that the president who was caught on a “hot mike” assuring Russia’s leaders that if he wins reelection he will have more “flexibility” will not hesitate to pressure Israel on a scale not yet seen.
OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY: APPEASING OUR ENEMIES AND IGNORING OUR ALLIES
This policy of making America less strong is not reduced to Israel. Obama has backtracked on America’s commitment to the defense of Poland and other Eastern European allies while reassuring Russia. By weakening America’s security, all good citizens of the world should worry while the destroyers rejoice and exult. The catch phrase “Bin Laden is dead” sounds triumphal and reassuring but don’t be fooled: Bin Laden may be dead, but Al Qaeda is still alive and well.
Faced with mortal threats from Iran’s leaders, the Prime Minister of Israel requested a meeting with President Obama and was rebuffed. This sends a clear message to Iran that the US will permit the development of nuclear weapons, will not take military action despite their statements. In fact, it appears that the US is harder on Israel than on Iran’s nuclear program. This contradicts Obama’s declaration that he “has Israel’s back.” The US has walked away from a joint US-Israeli military exercise scheduled for October which had been cited last year by the State Department as evidence of the “new heights” to which Obama had carried America’s commitment to Israel’s security.
This administration has refused to clearly indicate that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. After deleting this clause from the platform, the Democratic convention reinstated it after sensing some electoral losses. Even the raucous vote at the Democratic convention as they tried to reinstate it augurs poorly for the future direction Obama may take in a second term.
What is the capital of Israel? This administration refuses to say. They refused to mention Jerusalem as an Israeli city in its websites and, when caught, scrubbed them from Bush-era documents in order to claim this had always been the policy. This was a patent lie as Elliot Abrams quickly responded.
OBAMA’S DEFENDERS: DO THEY HAVE IT RIGHT?
Some Jewish Democrats boast of Obama’s great friendship for Israel but their claims sound empty. Wasserman Schultz parades her support of Israel as a Jew, yet she resorted to lies by stating that even Israel’s ambassador said that “what the Republicans are doing is bad for Israel.” Ambassador Oren quickly refuted her publicly. Why did she resort to lying to prove this administration’s attitude towards Israel? In truth, all Obama has done for Israel is the minimum that could be expected of an American president, especially with a Congress very sympathetic to Israel. It does not, however, reflect great love or concern for Israel’s existence.
Obama hopes that voters ignore what happened in the first three years of his presidency and that the relationship with Israel has not blown up as evidence of his good intentions. Let’s review his past actions:
One of his first decisions was to demand that Israel freeze all settlements, including Jerusalem (sic)
-In July 2009 Obama reportedly told Jewish leaders that he sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel.
-September 2009: Obama said at the UN that “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” and did not voice any criticism of Palestinian terrorism.
– in 2010 openly and warmly welcomed Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, despite the fact Abbas has repeatedly said he will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. Conversely, Netanyahu was quietly shuffled into the White House through a side door, and in a clear statement of disrespect left on his own for dinner.
– Also in 2010, 76 US Senators did something quite unusual. They were so disappointed in Obama’s consistent unfair treatment of Israel they sent him a letter asking him to be more fair toward the Jewish State. No previous president has received such a letter. In 2011 Obama chose to undermine Netanyahu when he made his famous “1967 borders” speech as the Israeli PM was airborne en route to meet with him to explain, among other things, why ’67 borders would be “indefensible.” Many Democrats distanced themselves publicly from the president and days later representatives from both parties sent him another strong message by giving Netanyahu 30 standing ovations when he spoke to a joint session of Congress.
By distancing himself from Israel he has encouraged Israel’s enemies to be bolder. This is a very serious matter with grave consequences.
Obama’s reaction to Iran’s mortal threats to Israel coupled with its continued brazen pursuit of their nuclear ambitions has been confusing. The sanctions are not working and his promise that “all options are on the table” sound more and more hollow. The Chief of Staff, Gen. Dempsey recently attempted to separate the US from any Israeli attack saying he did not want to appear complicit in this.
When interviewed on 60 Minutes recently, he referred to Netanyahu’s request for a red line in Iran as mere “noise” which he “blocks out,” instead of making a respectful comment such as “I’m always interested in hearing what the leader of our most loyal ally in the Middle East has to say.”
In fact, he has now downgraded our relationship by calling Israel “one of our closest allies in the region.” In other words Israel is no closer than any other country? Please Mr. President, tell us who is as close as Israel?
THE BETTER CANDIDATE AND ISRAELIS’ OPINION
Therefore, we must ponder which presidential candidate is a better friend of Israel. The Dahaf Institute poll in Israel shows that 2-1 majority of Israeli Jews think Mitt Romney cares more about them than the president. A Jerusalem Post poll in April found that 60 percent of Israelis saw Obama as either pro-Palestinian or neutral in the Middle East conflict. A veteran of the State Department, Aaron David Miller, said that “unlike Bill Clinton and George W Bush, Obama isn’t in love with the idea of Israel.” His opening tour in 2009 went to Cairo but avoided visiting neighboring Israel. His evident sympathy for the Arab nations and culture was on full display while his sustained badgering of Israel and his insistence that Israel return to the indefensible 1967 borders send the message that he wants to change the special relationship between the US and Israel.
Obama is indifferent to the basic Zionist ideal, cool to Israel’s leadership and ignorant of its history. Romney, on the other hand, has demonstrated a warm attitude towards Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu and his recent visit to Israel, his understanding of Israel’s plight and his clear statements about the Iranian nuclear threat all suggest a very supportive Romney administration. Romney in Israel declared, “You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism…What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people.” His sincerity and conviction were very evident. Could Mr. Obama have uttered lines like Mitt Romney’s?
This is a question all lovers of Israel should ponder.
ROMNEY’S POSITIONS TOWARDS ISRAEL
Romney’s positions are encouraging. In a recent op Ed in the WSJ, Romney argued that the current president “downgraded Israel from being our ‘closest ally’ in the Middle East to being only ‘one of our closest allies.’
“It’s a diplomatic message that will be received clearly by Israel and its adversaries alike. He dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran as mere ‘noise’ that he prefers to ‘block out.’ And at a time when Israel needs America to stand with it, he declined to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
During his visit to Israel, many Israelis were impressed by Romney’s demeanor and sincerity. In his speech in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon, Romney said simply, “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.” After hearing the speech, a blogger wrote, how wonderful it was to hear Romney saying that Israel and the US are a “force for good in the world.” He knows what Israel is up against, and he understands our common enemy that would destroy all we hold dear in Life
and all we have achieved. He values human dignity and accomplishment and gives us real hope. “The US is very fortunate there is a man of his character who wants to be President. G-d Bless and protect him.”
ATTACK ON RELIGION
We are concerned about the anti-religious tone of this administration. In the public fight with the Catholic institutions and intruding in their religious views as well as in the attacks against people who clearly espouse a religious and G-d fearing attitude, this administration is encouraging a climate of intolerance towards religious groups. The omission of God from the Democratic platform was more than a slip; it was a symptom that concerns us.
DIVIDING US RATHER THAN UNITING
Finally, we should all be concerned about a president who seeks to divide us and pit one group against another as Obama has been doing during his campaign. Long gone is the healer and the unifier; we now have the divider and the inciter. This should be a matter of concern for all Americans who love this country.
THE DILEMMA FOR DEMOCRATS’ VOTERS
We know all this is very hard for Jews who have been voting Democratic for generations and difficult to accept. It would be easier to ignore the problems outlines above and pretend it’s not true. But the problems are there and we need to face them. Make no mistake about this: This Democratic Party is not the Democratic Party we used to know and love; it is not the party of Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy. The Obama who wanted to “transform” America may be starting by transforming the Democratic Party. This is not the Democratic Party of old; it is the transformed new Democratic Party of Obama. Regardless of our party affiliation, we should ponder this question. We who care about Israel should not ignore her in times like these.
Rabbi David Algaze