Wednesday, December 7, 2011

President Obama's Israel Policy

As of the morning of December 7, when I last reviewed the statistics for this blog, I was surprised to find that it had been accessed 115 times during the prior seven days and of these “hits,” only 68 were in the United States.  Twenty were from Brazil, fifteen from Russia, three from Singapore, and two each from China, Germany and the Ukraine. France, Canada and the United Arab Emirates each had one “hit.”  

Most of these foreign “hits” probably resulted from individuals doing a search on Google, or a similar search engine, and coming up with as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) where something they were searching for might be found.  This is the first time we have had “penetration” into South America, and I suspect the recent posting mentioning many folk singers contributed to it.  Contributors to the blog might be pleased to know that what they write is read all over the planet.  So write something !

Jack Lippman
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Obama's Israel Policy

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I am always being asked to comment on Obama’s Israel policy and I get a regular dose of angry misinformation – much of it 180 degrees from the truth – alleging that the Obama administration does not support Israel. So, here are some thoughts and, more importantly, some facts…

When President Truman supported statehood on May 14, 1948 by having theUnited States be the first nation to recognize Israel (Truman signed the proclamation at 6:11 EST, about 11 minutes after statehood), it was but part of the vital role Truman played in both establishing Israel and supporting the plight of the Jewish diaspora after the Second World War. For instance, Truman improved conditions for displaced persons after the Holocaust, supported Jewish refugees relocating to Palestine over British objections, forced the Brits to stand down from their policy of intercepting Jewish craft headed to Palestine, secured Jewish immigration to the US in the critical years after WWII, built international support for Israel, and much, much more. Much of what Truman did was unpopular politically, especially with his base of white, southern voters (including during the 1948 election) and among key allies, White House aides, and the US State Department.

Additionally, the great Zionist leaders indicated to Truman Israel’s need for more than simply official recognition of statehood. There was the need for:
- Loan guarantees
- Agricultural support and aid
- Joint intelligence sharing
- Military cooperation
- Economic cooperation and commercial development
- Trade
- Immigration
- Cultural exchanges between the two, new allies
- Key vetoes in the UN of anti-Israel measures and symbolic support for the fledgling state in the international community
- Missile defense

Truman delivered and is rightly recognized as a great champion of Israel. It is now said, however, that President Obama has abandoned the historical alliance between the United States and Israel when the fact of the matter is that he has delivered in every one of the aforementioned 10 critical areas.   Here is a partial list of Obama’s substantive support for Israel:

1. Sent Israel the largest ever security package of $2.775 billion (2010)
2. Surpassed the 2010 package with a $3 billion package in 2011
3. Provided Israel with the most advanced missile defense system

Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System 

Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile-defense system4. Ordered the largest-ever joint US and Israel military training exercise in history
5. Supported the Gaza Counter-Arms Smuggling Program with 10 other nations
6. Vetoed the 2010 Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s construction of settlements (the US was the only one of the 15 members on the Security Council to veto)
7. Obama has vetoed over a half-dozen anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council
8. Pushed a UN Security Council measure hitting Iran with the toughest sanctions to date
9. Promoted and signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions and Divestment Act
10. Promoted and supported sanctions against Syria
11. Repeatedly opposed unilateral efforts at a Palestinian state
12. Obama’s two-state proposal for Palestine based on the 1967 borders was only a starting point. Both sides were able to negotiate up or down from that point and would have to sign off on any firm deal. There were an array of territorial swaps built into the proposal, requiring the support of both sides.
13. Called for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit
14. Obama has sent countless senior White House and Pentagon officials, Cabinet officials, and Vice President Biden to Israel (hundreds of visits in total)

Here is a partial list of Obama’s symbolic but important support for Israel:

1. Refused to condemn Israel when asked repeatedly to do so by many countries after the so-called Turkish flotilla incident
2. Repeatedly advocated in the UN and in the international community Israel’s right to self-defense and self-determination
3. Has continued the long history of immigration between the two nations
4. Has continued the long history of cultural exchanges between the two countries
5. Publically criticized Syria’s arming of Hezbollah
6. Criticized the Goldstone Report and lobbied the world community to oppose it
7. Discussed and ordered a study to examine textbooks and curriculum in Saudi Arabia to determine possible anti-Semitism
8. Repeatedly proposed efforts to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
9. Publically and repeatedly called for a non-militarized Palestinian state
10. Publically and repeatedly condemned Hamas violence
11. Obama has met with Netanyahu 7 times thus far
12. Obama repeatedly in speeches states the US commitment to Israel

One of the best ways the United States can support Israel is to be respected around the world and engage the world community in a constructive, multi-lateral manner. This is happening.

US support for Israel is not a Democratic or Republican thing – and friends of Israel should never want that to become the case. However, there are individuals alleging as much today, which is potentially very harmful to Israel. Both parties have supported Israel. Liberals such as LBJ and conservatives such as Reagan were champions of Israel. At the same time, presidents such as Jimmy Carter (Democrat) and George H.W. Bush (Republican) have, at times, not exactly promoted policies and positions helpful to Israel. To suggest that Obama, however, has not been supportive of Israel is simply not true.

Robert P. Watson, Ph.D., 

Professor of American Studies, Coordinator of the American Studies Program, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL

Email:  Phone: 561.237.7432  Work: 
FaceBook: /ProfessorWatson    Twitter: /ProfessorWatson

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1 comment:

harvo said...

good enlightening article