If the guy on the gurney doesn't have insurance, guess who pays.
- Closing the doughnut hole for prescription costs for seniors?
- Providing coverage to age 26 for dependent children remaining in a parent’s household?
- Requiring insurance companies to issue health insurance without considering the applicant’s pre-existing medical conditions during an open enrollment period each year?
- The “mandate” discussed above which results in everyone having to buy insurance, not just the unhealthy, making reasonable pricing possible?
Unfortunately the Republican Party and its candidates for its presidential nomination have broken this tradition, and not to the long-run benefit of Israel. Israel wants to stay above American politics; being dragged into it can eventually lead to the breaking of this important nonpartisan consensus.
If you are conservative and you don't want to vote for Obama, that's legitimate. If you don't want universal medical insurance; if you were against the auto industry bailout; if you are against extension of unemployment insurance; if you think that we should not tax the rich at a higher percentage than the middle class; if you think that Social Security should be privatized; if you are for the reduction of social service programs, but we should not cut military expenditures; then you should vote Republican — and they are legitimate reasons for your decision.
But there is one reason that is illegitimate. Obama is not anti-Israel. It is a bald-faced lie to pander to the Jewish community. In fact, President Obama's administration has been a fierce defender of Israel, fiercer than any previous administration. Here is a partial list of some of that support. Obama did the following:
•Significantly expanded military and intelligence sharing with Israel to a level unheard of during the administrations of his two predecessors (one Republican and one Democrat).
•Supported Israel's development of the David's Sling and Arrow anti-missile systems in addition to the Iron Dome system.
Iron Dome Missile System in Operation
•Established and operated an advanced American X-band air-defense radar by U.S. forces stationed in Israel.
•Presented Israel with a $3 billion defense package in 2011, the largest foreign aid to Israel in the history of U.S. administrations.
•Had the largest ever joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise (Juniper Cobra) and withdrew from a Turkish-led NATO exercise because it excluded Israel.
•Vigorously supported Israel in the U.N. Security Council, using the American veto to kill resolutions in condemnation of Israel.
•Vetoed over a half-dozen anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council.
The list could go on, but this is a newspaper column, not an encyclopedia page. The message is clear. The Republican attack on President Obama as being anti-Israel is bogus. The proof of this fact came to light in an interview with Israeli Defense Minister General Ehud Barak on Charlie Rose's show this last December. Rose asked Barak if President Obama is a good friend of Israel. Of course, he was not going to say anything derogatory about an American president on national television. One would expect him to say the usual platitudes about all presidents having contributed to the warm relationship between the two countries.
But Barak did something unusual and unexpected. He became very intense and looked Rose in the eyes and very deliberately and forcefully spoke about President Obama's "deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel." (That's an exact quote. You can go to Charlie Rose's Internet web page and see the entire interview.) Barak's body language and effusive words told the whole story. You now have the choice of believing the Israeli Minister of Defense or the Republican politicians who want to make Israel a political football in the November games.
Actually, yes there is one reason concerning Israel not to vote for Obama. He, like every one of his predecessors, Republicans and Democrats, believes in a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with land swaps and modifications. I repeat — with land swaps and modifications as supported by Bush I, Bush II, Clinton, in fact by every previous American president. If you believe in a Greater Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, if you support continued West Bank settlements to the total exclusion of a Palestinian state, then it would make sense for you not to vote for Obama. Actually, you probably should not vote at all, because even a Republican president will end up supporting a two-state solution.
This whole matter was best summarized by Representative Gary Ackerman of New York in a letter to his constituents these past High Holy Days. He noted that of the 43 confessions of sins on Yom Kippur, 11 relate to some form of speech (lashon hara, an evil tongue). He then lamented the irresponsible and outrageous accusations against President Obama as being anti-Israel.
Finally, Ackerman wrote: "Enough is enough. The president is far from perfect and criticizing him is legitimate. But the lies and smears and spit-flecked hostility that have emerged in some parts of our community's debate are a disgrace to a people that regularly asks in prayer for divine assistance to 'guard my tongue from evil speech and my lips from speaking lies.'"
Rabbi Warshal is the publisher emeritus of the Jewish Journal and the author of "Provocative Columns: A Liberal Rabbi Reflects on Beliefs, Israel & American Politics." He can be reached at email@example.com.
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