Obama Support for Israel Is Strong
One of the least defensible arguments levied against Barack Obama is that he is weak on Israel and does not properly support the security of Israel. This is simply an indefensible position. Essentially the Republican attack machine has made it its business to distort Obama’s record with respect to Israel in an effort to capture Jewish voters. As usual, the strategy has been to take Obama’s recognition of complexity, diplomacy, and slightly more complete understanding of the issues and turn it into a weakness. I grant you that Obama talks about Israel and the Middle East with greater nuance and understanding of what it will really take to solve problems but this does not detract from his support for Israel. He recognizes that Israel is essentially a mirror of the United States and, of course, the importance of security issues for Israel. Those who question Obama simply have to look at the record. Some months ago Obama said that “the United States will always have Israel’s back” and he meant it. I cite just some of the evidence below for how Obama has operationalized his support for Israel.
Apparently, those questioning Obama support for Israel missed the signing ceremony last week of the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act. This was a bill reaffirming the special relationship between United States and Israel and, more importantly, ensuring that Israel has all the necessary weapons and assistance to protect itself. The Enhanced Security Cooperation Act extends loan guarantees to Israel, boosts Israel’s credit rating, and authorizes the sale of $1.6 billion in US weapons available whenever needed. Moreover the law requires that Israel maintain its military superiority in the region and affirms US commitment to defend Israel in the United Nations Security Council.
Obama’s support for a two state solution, consistent with comments made by Netanyahu, is in line with the most prevalent thinking about how to resolve the problem with the Palestinians and maintain the Jewish nature of the State of Israel. The two state solution is increasingly problematic and difficult to impose but it represents strong support for the ethnoreligious core of the Israeli state.
The debilitating sanctions against Iran, who at this time represents the most direct threat to the State of Israel, are mostly the work of President Obama. Iran is now cut off from financial markets, cannot land in many airports around the world, and has oil sales that are a trickle compared to the previous flows. Obama has built an international coalition and stood on the world stage in defense of Israel’s security needs.
Obama’s presidential leadership and staff challenged the international community and prevented the statehood move by the Palestinians in the United Nations. This represented the correct argument that Palestinian statehood should be the result of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, that the establishment of the state through procedures separate from the political realities in which it is embedded would not be recognized by the other nor considered legitimate.
The Obama administration challenged the discredited Goldstone Report which was noteworthy in its biases against Israel and partially responsible for its author distancing himself from his own report. Obama stated clearly that Israel had a right to defend itself when Israel was criticized for its defensive actions off its coast.
It took tremendous courage for Obama to confront the Arab League in Cairo in 2009 and unabashedly declare US support for Israel. Obama told them our support for Israel was steadfast. Expressing some well-placed defensible criticism of Israel (e.g. with respect to the West Bank) should be viewed as part of our support for Israel and its future state; it is certainly no sign of weakness.
A variety of strong Israel supporters, Zionists, and political leaders, from Edgar Bronfman to Ehud Barack call Obama a friend and the leader who has deepened and strengthened the relationship between United States and Israel.
Israel is constantly plagued and harassed by terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and Obama supported Israel’s refusal to negotiate with such groups by announcing that “no country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.” Israel’s Dome Missile-Defense System was developed in cooperation with United States and is effective for intercepting Hamas and Hezbollah rockets. It is a security system received during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Obama is a thoughtful and decisive leader who recognizes the importance and cultural resonance of Israel. The argument that he insufficiently supports Israel simply does not hold water. The State of Israel is stronger and more secure today because of Barack Obama.