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.