Romney in Quakertown: Says he’ll do ‘opposite’ of Obama on Israel

— by Ira Forman

Mitt Romney in Quakertown (Bucks County, Pennsylvania) claimed Saturday that he would “look at the things the President has done and do the opposite” in our relationship with Israel.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

He responded with ridicule when asked what he would do, if elected, to strengthen U.S. relations with the Jewish state.

‘I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite,’ Romney said, to laughter and applause from members of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an evangelical Christian political organization.

But Romney is, once again, trying to score cheap political points by distorting President Obama’s strong record of support for the state of Israel.

Does Mitt Romney want people to believe he would reverse President Obama’s commitment — in both words and actions — to Israel’s security and the unshakable bond between our two countries?

If Romney was to actually do the opposite of what the President Obama has done, he would jeopardize Israel’s security and international standing:

  • Would Romney actually reverse President Obama’s policy of increasing security assistance to Israel every year, including unprecedented support for Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system? President Obama has increased his request for security assistance to Israel every year of his administration, and his budget includes a record-high $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel in addition to missile defense spending. President Obama has also directed the Pentagon to expand U.S.-Israel security cooperation, committing $205 million dollars to assist in shielding Israelis from mortars and rockets as part of an ongoing effort to “deepen and expand the quantity and intensity of cooperation to the fullest extent”
  • Would Romney actually let Israel stand alone at the United Nations? President Obama prevented Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel and unilaterally seek statehood recognition through the United Nations. He used the first Security Council veto of his presidency to stop condemnation of Israel settlements and stood by Israel in pushing back against the one-sided Goldstone Report. Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Obama’s support for Israel at the United Nations “a badge of honor.”
  • Would Romney actually refuse to come to Israel’s aid when they ask for help? When Israel’s embassy in Cairo was attacked by protestors in September 2011, President Obama called on Egypt to protect the embassy and offered his support to Prime Minister Netanyahu; the next day, Netanyahu publicly thanked the President for his help and called it a “decisive and fateful moment.” When Israel’s Carmel Forest caught fire in 2010, the worst natural disaster in Israel’s history, Prime Minister Netanyahu turned to President Obama for help, and the President directed his administration to “get Israel whatever it needs. Now.

Israeli leaders have highlighted President Obama’s steadfast support for the Jewish state. In an address to the Union for Reform Judaism, Ehud Barak said that the bonds between Israel and the United States are “stronger and deeper than ever” under President Obama. President Peres said that you should judge a President on his record and that under President Obama, Israel and the United States have “the best relationship on the issue of security…. this is a fact.”

It’s time for Romney to stop distorting President Obama’s record on Israel to score political points. Our relationship with Israel is far too important.


Memory of Hanukkah’s Past: “Get Israel Whatever It Needs. Now!”

— by Jason Attermann

During the White House Hanukkah celebration last week, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren recalled last year’s reception in which President Obama came to Israel’s aid “without hesitation” and sent an American fire-fighting team to help put out the Carmel Forest fires.

Adam Kredo of the Washington Jewish Week reported:

“On route to the President’s Hanukkah reception, right outside of the White House, my cell phone started ringing,” Oren recalled, according to a transcript of his speech. “It was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Carmel Forest in North Israel was ablaze … and the fire was descending on Haifa. Israel needed fire-fighting planes, at once, but it had none.”

Netanyahu directed his ambassador to, “Quick, go ask President Obama for help.”

That’s when Oren entered the White House and asked to see the president.

“I told him the situation and without hesitation, President Obama turned to one of his aides and said, ‘get Israel whatever it needs. Now,'” Oren recalled.

He explained to those in attendance at Wasserman-Shultz‘s Hanukkah party that “America has 11 fire-fighting planes; the next morning, 8 of them took off for Israel, along with a team of fire-fighting commandos.”

“Later that night,” Oren continued, “I learned, that the President left the Hanukkah reception and flew secretly to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, he called Washington and the first question he asked, ‘Has Israel gotten its planes?’ He also called Prime Minister Netanyahu and expressed his condolences for Israel’s losses and America’s commitment to Israel’s well-being.”

Hanukkah Fire Diary from Anne Feibelman

— Anne Feibelman

Hanukkah marks the 10th anniversary of Nigun HaLev, a grass roots congregation in the Jezreel valley.The congregation is comprised of kibbutzniks, moshavniks and city dwellers, farmers and hi-tech executives, children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The Kabbalat Shabbat service is modern-Israeli, innovative with guitar, beautiful singing, traditional prayers and nigunnim woven in with modern poetry and Carlebach tunes. A year of planning had gone into the anniversary party, with congregation-wide participation and enthusiasm. Friday morning, due to the forest fire on Mt. Carmel, the three spritual directors of the kehilah met to decide whether to hold the 10th anniversary party scheduled for Saturday morning. After much discussion, a decision was made to postpone the celebration indefinitely.

More after the jump.

By the time Shabbat rolled in and Kabbalat Shabbat services began, the mood was somber. A bus-load of Israelis had been killed on Mt. Carmel. The forests of Mt. Carmel were ashes, and the wildlife that inhabited the green forests were burned to death. It is December. In the season when we pray daily for our winter rain, no rain has fallen.. All forests are dry, crackling timberland.The skies are relentlessly blue, cloudless, hot. .Every step on the dry, parched earth is a reminder that the green fields and moist earth have not arrived.

At Friday night night services,the chairs are arranged around a small table, Rabbi Chen from Moshav Nahalal, begins Kabbalat Shabbat. People arrive, bringing their hanukiot to light. The mood picks up with the singing. Voices are accompanied by Shaye's beautiful guitar playing. A woman joins him on her flute. Kabbalat Shabbat is followed by communal candle-lighting of the hanukiot. One man shares that his hanukiah is made of silver soup spoons from his family. Each family member had a silver spoon with their name engraved on it, for his grandmother's Friday night chicken soup. His family was killed in the Shoah. He has welded together the spoons as a tribute to their light in those dark times. Ma'aariv follows. Bini gives a moving d'var Torah on the importance of having hope and faith despite the burning fire. I say a mi-sheberach for the 10th anniversary of the kehillah.

The service ends. It is time for announcements. One woman who has been sitting quietly, speaks up. She has been evacuated from her home. Her young grandson was visiting at her house for Hanukkah, when she was told to leave immediately because of the fire. She threw things into a suitcase, took her grandson by the hand, and left. She arrived at shul with her suitcase. She is a native Israeli, in her sixties. She said that in all her years growing up and growing old in Israel, she has never been afraid – in the army as a soldier, in the '67, '73, '82 wars, in the intifadas, never. Today she felt fear.

Like all those wars rolled into one moment, of life and loss and love. History is meaningful in Israel, So are current events. Another man spoke. He had arrived a bit late to services. He had planned to hike in the canyon ravine on Mt Carmel. As he was entering the ravine, he got a phone call and had to cancel the hike. Two hours later, a tunnel of fire shot down the canyon and ignited the ravine. He was lucky. He hopes the firefighters are safe.

A woman announces that all the food that was prepared for the 10th anniversary party is being collected, driven up to Mt Carmel, and given to the police and firefighters. No one bats an eye. My friend Dorit is waiting for the sufganyot to arrive.. Her husband Yossi tells me not to worry. The people up around Carmel are different. They know how to deal with tough things in life. The next morning, all televisions are playing the news. The winds have picked up during the night, whipping up the fires like cappuccino foam. The hopes of getting the blaze under control have disappeared.

Drorit's family is sitting under their pomelo tree, having a picnic in winter.The drone of small planes fills the sky. They are flying in low overhead, Two at time – red, yellow, white. Each country is identified by the country's color. Greece – once our oppressors on Hanukkah – is now sending planes to aid Israel. Planes from Turkey and Cyprus follow. Israelis are glad to see the planes again. At night, the skies were too dark for small planes to navigate, so they stopped flying until daybreak. Two by two. Like Noah's ark. Only now, there is no water. There is only destruction by fire.