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Op-ed | President Obama stands for Israel

Published: Monday, October 15, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 08:10



“As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums,” said President Barack Obama on May 19, 2011. As the presidential election nears, there are those who question Obama’s commitment to the United States’ relationship with Israel, especially Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney assails Obama with vague remarks about how the president “threw Israel under the bus” or about how he took advantage of his sometimes tense relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, when it comes to Israel, the facts show that Obama’s actions speak louder than Romney’s words.

It would be foolish to write off the president simply because of his frosty relationship with the Israeli Prime Minister. Even amidst the public tensions between the two leaders, Netanyahu has stated, “President Obama spoke about his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. He rightly said that our security cooperation is unprecedented ... and he has backed those words with deeds.” Netanyahu could not have said it any better.

America’s relationship with Israel runs so deep that the issue is non−partisan. This past summer, the Senate voted 100−0 to pass the bipartisan US−Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. Obama not only signed the bill, but also reaffirmed his “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.” When Obama visited Israel as a candidate in 2008 and saw how vulnerable Israel was to incessant rocket attacks from Gaza, he subsequently stated, “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that ... And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

VCSince taking office, the president was able to secure an additional $205 million for the Iron Dome missile defense system currently protecting the citizens of Israel’s South from active rocket attacks from Gaza. For those who would argue that a Republican president would do this and more, one need only note that under Obama, foreign military aid to Israel is at an all−time high of more than $3 billion.

Obama has backed Israel during its times of need. When the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was under attack, it was Obama who “activated all of the United States’ means and influence — which is a lot” to help the embassy, according to Netanyahu. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons remains a grave threat to both Israel and America.

Obama recognizes the severe danger of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Under the leadership of Obama’s administration, the international community has implemented the toughest sanctions on Iran in modern history. Even though Obama does not support establishing a red line, he has clearly stated that “all options are on the table,” with regards to methods stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

There are those who say that Obama has not committed to backing up Israel and that he continues pursuing unsuccessful diplomatic strategies. Voters must look at the bigger picture. Obama is trying to keep the region stable to strengthen the United States’ interests in the Middle East. During the Arab Spring, Obama supported the NATO mission in Libya to secure the region.

After the autocratic Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by his own people, America’s aid prevented the already chaotic situation from spiraling further into economic turmoil. The US promotion of a more secure Israel ensures stability in the wider Middle East. The U.S. and Israel share the same regional interests: the promotion of peaceful and democratic nations in the Middle East.

The fact remains that many Americans are often uncomfortable with President Obama’s open criticism of certain Israeli policies. America was the first country to recognize Israel’s independence in 1948 under former President Harry Truman. But friends are not always cheerleaders. Both Israel and America are thriving democracies that, given the nature of democracies, have citizens with a multitude of opinions. As Americans, we must accept that honest and respectful criticism does not show a lack of friendship; on the contrary, it is what democracy thrives on and what true friendship relies upon.

Actions speak louder than words, and Obama’s actions prove that he is a sincere friend of Israel.


Ayal Pierce is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. Arlen Weiner is a senior who is majoring in peace and justice studies and international relations.

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18 comments Log in to Comment

Wed Oct 17 2012 02:38
guys this is a HUGE topic of discussion.

But the fact of the matter is, the OP ED was about President Obama's relationship with Israel. Israel is a lot more than just the conflict with the Palestinians.

If you would like, write an OP ED about the President and Palestinians. But just because Israel is mentioned, does not mean you MUST mention Palestinians.... that's kinda ridiculous.

Wed Oct 17 2012 00:23
@jumbo15: So first you say they can't do the army. Now you say it is a difficult process. YES. There is discrimination in Israel agianst Arabs, Russians, Mizrachi Jews, Ethiopina Jews, everywhere... just like America. That doesn't make it ok, but that doesn't mean they don't have equal rights.

All israeli arabs can vote and are entitled to every right a jew or any other citizen is. In fact, they excersize this right and have place in Israeli parliament. How can you say they aren't equal when there is an Arab on the supreme court, Arab officers in the army directing Jews where to go, Arab women representing Miss Israel, Arab being, in the past, a deputy speaker of the house, Arab being in the Israeli foreign ministry to represent Israel, Arabs given the right to free speech, to protest, to be gay, to be muslim, to be christian, to be an athiest!

Common. Talk about discrimination in Israeli soceity, okay. Talk about the actual rights? really?

Tue Oct 16 2012 22:33
Thats four schools out of 100s of segregated schools throughout the country. That is not enough. Have you ever spoken to an Arab-Israeli about the army. Yes, technically they could volunteer to go but it is a very difficult process. they also know that once in the army they would continuously be discriminated and not trusted. furthermore did you know that there are just as many house demolitions inside of Israel proper as there are in the occupied territories? thats because it is impossible for arab-israelis to get housing permits just like their palestinian brothers. what about the racial profiling at checkpoints and security stations throughout the country. have you witnessed two female arab citizens of Israel get denied access to the kotel because they were both wearing a hijab? I have. Meanwhile countless Israeli-Jewish citizens went right through the security check no questions asked. is that equality? i think not. 20% of the Israeli population has nothing close to equal rights and another 4 million palestinians have no basic human rights at all. this situation is undeniably unsustainable and the best way a US president can be a friend to Israel and the future state of Palestine is by revamping the peace process. From Birmingham to Jerusalem separate is not equal and it is time for the US president to work to foster a just positive peace for all.
Tue Oct 16 2012 17:41
@Arafat: Someone hasn't seen "Mitt Romney Versus Reality":
Tue Oct 16 2012 17:39
"At Hand in Hand, Jewish and Arab children go to school together every day, receiving instruction in both Hebrew and Arabic, from teachers from both communities" - The Israel Project
Tue Oct 16 2012 17:39
"while about 41 percent of the Jewish public agreed that Arabs should be required to perform military or civil service at the age of 18...about 45 percent said the current situation, where Israeli Arabs serve on a voluntary basis, should remain" - The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Oct 16 2012 17:35
The very, very good news is: Your statistics on Israel must be outdated, if not simply inaccurate. Thanks to the progressive nature of their state, Israel is currently the following place:

"arab israelis can't go to the army" - Jumbo15

"while about 41 percent of the Jewish public agreed that Arabs should be required to perform military or civil service at the age of 18...about 45 percent said the current situation, where Israeli Arabs serve on a voluntary basis, should remain" - The Christian Science Monitor

"are taught in segregated school" - Jumbo15

"At Hand in Hand, Jewish and Arab children go to school together every day, receiving instruction in both Hebrew and Arabic, from teachers from both communities" - The Israel Project

"racially profiled at both checkpoints and all other security points throughout the country such as at a mall"

I do not think profiling can be disproven through a news article, so I will simply state that profiling takes place in democracies, such as the United States, and that Israel should not be exceptionally condemned when it occurs there.

So there you have it! Fewer worries for us all.

Tue Oct 16 2012 13:43
they do have equal rights? no they don't arab israelis can't go to the army, are taught in segregated school and racially profiled at both checkpoints and all other security points throughout the country such as at a mall. Thats not equal rights. I am not saying that every mention of Israel is related to the palestinians but I am saying that when it involves the US relationship with Israel there needs to be a mention of them and there human rights as the peace process has been dormant for all of Obama's administration.
Tue Oct 16 2012 12:46
@jumbo15: All Israelis have equal rights. And this article is about US-Israel relations. Not every mention of Israel is related to the Palestinians, you know.
Tue Oct 16 2012 00:30
As an American Jew who strongly supports the future Palestinian state I want to know how an article discussing the US-Israeli relationship can fail to mention the Palestinians even once. While I do support President Obama and believe he is a better friend to Israel than Romney could ever be because he does actually have the courage to criticize Israel, I believe it is also imperative that the US President be a friend to the Palestinians. This is something Obama has miserably failed to do. The best way Obama could be a friend to both Israel and Palestine is to reinvigorate the peace process that has been dormant for his entire presidency. Also the US is a democracy but Israel is a ethnocracy because 20% of its citizens do not have equal rights and over another 4 million people have no rights at all. I will give my vote to Obama in the upcoming election but I sincerely hope that in his next term he is a friend to a just peace and works to get the Palestinians the human rights and self-determination they have lacked for the last 60 years since Harry Truman recognized the state of Israel.
Mon Oct 15 2012 18:15
Sometimes, though, and among politicians and diplomats - words foretell action.

When Obama referenced the '67 borders as a starting point for further negotiations his words sent a shiver up the spines of anyone who understands the implications of those words.

A friend of Israel? Neither his words nor actions suggest he is.

Mon Oct 15 2012 14:19
In 2011, the US Federal Budget was $3,598 B. Of that, 0.08% went to Israel (an all-time high). If you care about Israel, you should like that. Meanwhile, if you're concerned about how our money's being spent overall, consider that roughly the same amount is spent in aid to Pakistan (?), while $700 B went into US military spending (that's, what, a 23,300% difference?) and $800 B in education. I think we're doin' okay.
Mon Oct 15 2012 13:44
So tuftsstudent13, i completely agree.

That is why out of the $3 billion given to Israel, 75% MUST be spent in America, boosting the American economy, and the other 25% must be spent on research and development, which will benifit america (cell phone, medicine, agrigulture, computer chips..... the list goes on).

So the $3billion is VERY MUCH improving our country and our security.
Also, foreign aid i think makes up less than 1% of the federal budget.

Mon Oct 15 2012 12:32
"Actions speak louder than words, and Obama's actions prove that he is a sincere friend of Israel."

Obama has not visited Israel during his tenure as president and when Netanyahu was last in the States Obama cancelled their appointment so that he (Obama) could attend a Hollywood fundraiser instead. Yes, actions speak louder than words.

Mon Oct 15 2012 12:30
"During the Arab Spring, Obama supported the NATO mission in Libya to secure the region."

True enough. And now we have Islamists in charge there. Islamists who are constantly stregthening their death grip. It goes without saying that Obama also supported the Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt and to what end vis-a-vis Israel's security? Now the MB has publicly said the peace treaty with Israel is not likely to stand and the border with Israel is under far greater threat.

Obama's Middle East policies (in hindsight) will be known as the Islamist Open Door Policy and how this is good for anyone - much less Israel - is incomprehensible.

Mon Oct 15 2012 12:25
To selectively quote Netanyahu is also misleading. Netanyahu is a polotician and like any politicians will choose his words depending on the necessity of that moment.

It would be like trusting Obama's latest promise about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel is what he really means, i.e., Obama will say whatever his audience wants to hear - and then flip-flop on the issue when he's addressing a different audience on the same issue. How many times has he contradicted himself on Jeruslam's status?

Mon Oct 15 2012 12:20
"As the presidential election nears, there are those who question Obama's commitment to the United States' relationship with Israel, especially Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney."

This is misleading. In fact many, many Jews have not only had ample reason to question Obama's committment to Israel but have decided to vote againt him thanks to his words and actions during his first term. Romney's position has nothing to do with this lack of faith in Obama.

Mon Oct 15 2012 11:58
Glad to know my tax money, 3 billion dollars that could improve our country, instead goes to an ethnocracy's "security". And no occupation too? Sounds great to me!

Between Romney and Obama, I wonder who wins Israel as the best friend of all time, and who get's lobbied more by AIPAC to write these Opeds. It costs over 3,600 dollars to even walk into the Seaport Hotel conference Tufts students went to. Thanks but I'm trying to steer my money away from the 1%, and won't spend my time at college promoting the status quo that robs this country. I'm voting for Obama, but Opeds like this one make me lose faith in this political system where money speaks louder then morality.

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