Panetta: U.S. “Won’t Allow Iran to Develop a Nuclear Weapon. Period”


U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stressed the U.S. “rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens” during his visit to the Iron Dome battery in Israel, August 1.

— by Danielle Lehrer

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta landed in Israel to reaffirm the “close defense ties between Israel and the U.S” and to discuss efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Panetta met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. According to the Defense Department, stopping Iran’s nuclear program was “square on the agenda.”

Panetta stated during his trip:

Israeli and American leaders ‘continue to work together in the effort to ensure that Iran does not reach that point of developing a nuclear weapon.’

‘What we are discussing is various contingencies and how we would respond,’ Panetta said. ‘We don’t talk about specific military plans. We continue to run a number of options in that area, but the discussions I will have in Israel [will be to determine] the threat we are confronting and to share both information and intelligence on it.’

And:

‘The United States,’ he said, ‘will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Period.’

‘I want you and the people of Israel to know a few things that have not and will not change,’ he said. ‘The United States stands firmly with Israel and we have a rock solid commitment to the security of Israel and to the security of its citizens.’

After his praise for the Obama Administration this week, Barak said:

When we say all the options are on the table, and when the Americans say all the options are on the table, we mean it, and I believe the Americans mean it.

During his trip, Panetta visited one of the U.S.-funded Iron Dome batteries that are protecting Israel from rocket attacks. The American Forces Press Service published an article today about how the Iron Dome missile defense system is an important demonstration of U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation. Click here to read it.

More photos from Panetta’s trip appear after the jump.

Peres and Panetta Meet at Pentagon

— by Rachel Shabad

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta met at the Pentagon yesterday to discuss U.S.-Israel joint security cooperation as well as efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Panetta said:

The United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is rock-solid and enduring. As always, we look forward to hearing your views on the many challenges we are facing together. Our goal remains the same — for both of our nations – peace, prosperity, and a dream of leaving our children a better world.

More after the jump.
Panetta also said to Peres — who will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on Wednesday:

We greatly admire your commitment to these values and we greatly admire your commitment to our relationship. I am pleased to note that the cooperation between the two militaries is stronger than ever.

 

Click here to learn more about the meeting.

Obama Admin. to Provide Israel with $70M for Iron Dome

— by David Streeter

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hosted Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Pentagon today for bilateral discussions focused on Israel’s security and Iran. Panetta announced during the meeting that the Obama Administration will be providing Israel with an addition $70 million in funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which is in addition to the $205 million previously given.

Panetta’s statement and reaction from JTA after the jump.
Panetta said in a statement:

The level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel has never been stronger. One important example of this cooperation is U.S. support for Israel’s Iron Dome short range rocket and mortar defense system.

I was pleased to inform Minister Barak that the President supports Israel’s Iron Dome system and directed me to fill the $70 million in assistance for Iron Dome that Minister Barak indicated to me Israel needs this fiscal year.

My goal is to ensure Israel has the funding it needs each year to produce these batteries that can protect its citizens. That is why going forward over the next three years, we intend to request additional funding for Iron Dome, based on an annual assessment of Israeli security requirements against an evolving threat. This is part of our rock solid commitment to Israel’s security and comes on top of approximately $3 billion in annual security assistance for Israel.

The U.S. has already provided $205 million in assistance for that system, and operational batteries have already proven effective in defending against rocket attacks on Israel earlier this year. Iron Dome has already saved the lives of Israeli citizens, and it can help prevent escalation in the future.

Minister Barak and I have been discussing additional U.S. support for Iron Dome, and in recent months our departments have been working closely to gauge Israel’s security needs and production capacity for that system.

This is assistance that, provided Congress concurs, we can move quickly, to ensure no shortage in this important system. Meanwhile, we will stay in close consultation in the years ahead to ensure we are making necessary investments in this important system.

JTA reported:

Legislation under consideration in Congress, shaped in consultation with administration officials, would deliver $680 million to Israel for the system, which earlier this year successfully intercepted rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

The system was funded in part by $205 million transferred by the United States to Israel in 2011.

Barak in a statement said he ‘greatly appreciated’ the announcement, adding that ‘This additional funding for the Iron Dome system comes at a crucial time for the Israeli people.’

Barak is in Washington to discuss with Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton efforts to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon….

Israel would likely seek to shore up its defenses against attacks on its borders ahead of any conflict with Iran, as Iran would be likely to pressure surrogates in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to attack.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee also praised the Obama administration for its announcement.

‘This funding will enable the Jewish state to better protect its citizens, thus preventing a wider conflict,’ AIPAC said in a statement. ‘Missile defense programs are a cornerstone of U.S.-Israel cooperative programs. The two allies work together to develop innovative technologies that advance the security of both nations.’

Obama Administration Requests More Iron Dome To Protect Israel

— by David Streeter

The Obama Administration will be asking Congress for additional funding to support Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris praised this decision:

In making this crucial announcement today, the Obama Administration-working in close cooperation with Israel-is ensuring that Israelis will have the resources they need to defend against the deadly wave of rockets being launched into the heart of Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

These indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians-men, women and children alike-are horrific, and Iron Dome has been at the forefront of helping to protect Israelis during this deeply trying time. It was President Barack Obama’s initiative and request that brought Iron Dome into being, and funding for missile defense cooperation between Israel and the United States has more than doubled under this Administration than under the previous administration. We thank the President for his leadership on the Iron Dome — as well as key supporters of Israel and Iron Dome in Congress — for taking a firm stand to support the people of Israel.

More after the jump.

In announcing its request, the Department of Defense said:

Supporting the security of the State of Israel is a top priority of President Obama and Secretary Panetta. The United States has previously provided $205 million in support of Israel’s Iron Dome short-range rocket and mortar defense system.  During the rocket attacks earlier this month, the Iron Dome system played a critical role in Israel’s security. When nearly 300 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel, Iron Dome intercepted over 80 percent of the targets it engaged, saving many civilian lives.

Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), the author of the “Iron Dome Support Act” (IDSA, H.R. 4229), said in response to the Obama Administration’s request:

Iron Dome is a game changer. The threats Israel faces from incoming, indiscriminate terrorist rocket attacks are countered by this cutting edge anti-missile system. Iron Dome is fundamentally shifting political, diplomatic and military realities on the ground, while saving lives of innocent Israelis. Today’s statement is a further step in the right direction.

Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ), a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and a leader on U.S.-Israel missile defense issues, said:

I am pleased to see that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Obama Administration understand the importance of and remain committed to funding the life-saving rocket defense program, Iron Dome. We must continue to stand with Israel to make sure that our most important strategic ally in the region has the additional Iron Dome batteries it needs to protect its population from rocket attacks.

Over the past weeks, we have once again seen the tremendous importance and effectiveness of Iron Dome that is now deployed in Israel. In the face of rockets fired by terrorists from Gaza into southern Israel, Iron Dome has been remarkably successful in saving lives and preventing all-out war.

McClatchy reported today that Israel is expanding the use of the Iron Dome system and published a brief illustrated explanation of how the system works.

Setting Record Straight on Funding Israel’s Defense, Stopping Iran

— by David Harris

In a joint appearance today before the House Budget Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified regarding the proposed FY2013 budget-and they set the record straight when it comes to helping provide needed funds for America’s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel.

Despite the fact that President Barack Obama increased military assistance to Israel in his proposed FY2013 budget, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) used the occasion to repeat GOP talking points regarding missile defense funding for Israel-which brought this response from Secretary Panetta:

With regards to Israel, we have significantly increased the amount of funds that we provide to Israel. It’s now $650 million, which more than doubles what was the level in the prior administration of about $320 million. We have provided significant funding for Israel’s Arrow and Sling ballistic missile defense programs; we’ve secured funding for Iron Dome system, which is a great defense system for them, against short range rockets; and whatever decisions we have made with regards to Israel and her assistance level, has been made in conjunction with them.

Further questioning from Rep. Price about Iran also brought this clarion response from General Dempsey:

There’s no group in America more determined to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon than the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I assure you of that.

More after the jump.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) asked further clarifying questions regarding funding for Israel’s defense; in response, Panetta further explained:

Our support to Israel is unshakable, and we’ve reflected that frankly in our budget request. The budget request by the way is done in collaboration very closely with the Israeli government. Since taking office, the Administration has requested money for a number of missile systems that they have, the Arrow and David’s Sling ballistic missile defense programs, as well as the Iron Dome system which is a very effective system for defense against short range rocket attacks. The total amount of assistance that we provide Israel is $650 million, which is more than double what was provided in the last administration, which was at a level of I think about $320 million. So we are making a significant contribution to Israeli defense.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz also asked further about this Administration’s action to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Panetta added:

The Administration, the President has made clear that we will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Period. This isn’t about containment, this is about preventing them from gaining a nuclear weapon and nobody should make a mistake about our intent here. What we have done is to work with the international community to make clear to Iran that they have to deter from the effort that they are making to develop their nuclear capability; they have to stop what they are doing in terms of promoting violence abroad, providing assistance to terrorists abroad; they have to stop any kind of effort that would close the Straits of Hormuz. We have made very clear what those red lines are-the international community has joined together in a series of very tough sanctions, diplomatic sanctions, economic sanctions, and I can tell you that those sanctions are biting. They’re isolating Iran, they’re impacting on their economy, they’re impacting on their ability to govern their own country. The whole point of those sanctions is to put pressure on them to make clear that they have to join the international community, live up to their international responsibilities; but if they don’t, we have put every option on the table to make clear to them that there is nothing that we will hesitate to do to stop them from developing those kinds of weapons.

Regarding the nature of the sanctions, Panetta closed his answer by adding:

These are the most sanctions we have ever applied against one country. The sanctions we’ve just applied impact on their energy, impact on their banking system, and those will continue to take effect. The combination of what we have done I think has sent a very clear signal that the behavior that they are engaged in is not to be tolerated.

Obama’s Right Wing Critics Should Be Dizzy from All their Spinning

— by Marc R. Stanley

Ever since President Barack Obama’s inauguration, his right wing critics have devoted countless hours and millions of keystrokes to spinning the President’s record of support for Israel so far from reality that it threatens the historical bipartisan foundation of American support for Israel. The vortex of right wing spin was fully on display last week as Republican partisans and right wing pundits pounced on selectively-chosen quotes and inaccurate media reports to continue their baseless attacks on Obama’s stellar record of support for Israel.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivered-in front of a pro-Israel crowd gathered to substantively and civilly discuss Israel-an entire address that discussed the actual steps taken by the Obama Administration to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Right wingers took five words from the question and answer section, removed their context, and ran wild with them as if they nullified every pro-Israel action described in Panetta’s speech.

More after the jump.
Despite what you may have heard or read, Panetta-who is widely regarded as being pro-Israel by many involved with the issue-made two things crystal clear. First, “Israel will always have the unshakeable backing of the United States,” and second, that the President is considering a “wide range of military options” as part of his approach to stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

As usual though, Republicans overlooked Panetta’s positive statements and continued their effort to make Israel a partisan wedge issue. The spin on Panetta’s speech was so far removed from reality that the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee weighed in and criticized the inaccurate reports of Panetta’s speech, in addition to setting the record straight on his strongly pro-Israel statements.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-also a stalwart supporter of Israel-received similar treatment following an off-the-record session during the same Israel forum that Panetta spoke at. Clinton reportedly expressed concern over certain recent Knesset bills and incidents regarding women and Israel’s Orthodox community. Predictably, Obama’s right wing critics spun Clinton’s reported comments past the point of reality, and largely ignored the mainstream American Jewish leaders and organizations that vocally expressed similar concerns about similar issues.

These two recent incidents highlight the lengths that Obama’s right wing detractors will go to malign his Administration’s stellar record of support for Israel. After vocally opposing the Palestinians’ unilateral state declaration, increasing security cooperation with Israel to unprecedented levels-including supplemental funding for the Iron Dome missile system that protects Israelis from Hamas’ rockets, consistently defending Israel’s legitimacy at the United Nations, personally intervening to save Israel’s diplomats in Cairo, and personally authorizing the delivery of any equipment Israel needed to fight the Carmel fire, Obama’s naysayers simply have little substance to criticize.

As a result, those seeking to make Israel a partisan wedge issue create bogus stories based on inaccurate media reports and remarks taken out of context. Most seriously though, right wing partisans politicize the occasional tactical disagreements that have zero act on the fundamental core principles of the U.S.-Israel relationship. When Israeli and American leaders state publically that the U.S.-Israel relationship is as strong as it has ever been-as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren have all loudly and repeatedly stressed-right wing partisans tune out and keep pushing their spin and smears. Their hope is that their efforts will bring the mass exodus of Jews from Democratic Party to the Republican Party that they’ve been wishing for since at least the 1980’s.

Recent polls of American and Israeli Jews indicate that the right wing spin of Obama’s Israel record is not causing the massive Israel-based shift that Republicans want to see. Given the wide distance separating the Republican presidential field from the majority of American Jews, right wing partisans should be dizzy to the point of sickness by now. But since the GOP-from Party leaders to presidential candidates to rank-and-file members of Congress-has demonstrated its intent to politicize the U.S.-Israel relationship without regard to Obama’s actual record, those who support a strong bipartisan consensus of support for Israel must speak out loudly to refute the spin before the relationship suffers collateral damage from their partisan attacks.

Originally published in the Texas Jewish Post. Marc R. Stanley is the Chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Barak “Lavishes Praise” on Obama for Resolve

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak-Israel’s most decorated soldier and former Prime Minister-strongly praised President Barack Obama’s commitment to stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program during an interview with Israel Radio. Politico reported:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak lavished praise on the president Thursday, commending him for being ‘ready to undertake the fiercest of political risks to his survival, in order to make good on what he believes in’ and defending him against those who call him a ‘soft appeaser.’

Barak forcefully pushed back against those who question Obama’s consistent resolve when it comes to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran by saying:

He added, ‘We are asked, sometimes, whether Obama is really a soft appeaser. To that, I say: “Go ask Osama bin Laden.”‘

Barak, who met with Obama in Washington last week, also hailed the president’s ‘internal consistency,’ which he said ‘stems from being a leader,’ and also pointed to Obama’s ‘circumspection that comes from seeing, above, only the heavens and one’s own conscience.’

US: “Nuclear Iran Unacceptable;” Iran: “Sanctions Hurt.”

— by David Streeter

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CBS News that a nuclear-armed Iran is “unacceptable” and that the United States “will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.” The exchange between Panetta and CBS’ Scott Pelley went as follows:

Pelley: If the Israelis decide to launch a military strike to prevent that weapon from being built, what sort of complications does that raise for you?
Panetta: Well, we share the same common concern. The United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis. If we have to do it we will deal with it.
Pelley: You just said if we have to do it we will come and do it. What is it?
Panetta: If they proceed and we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.
Pelley: Including military steps?
Panetta: There are no options off the table
Pelley: A nuclear weapon in Iran is…
Panetta: Unacceptable.

Panetta’s statements coincide with recent admissions from Iranian government officials that the country is sustaining damage from the recently-increased sanctions.

Coverage from the New York Times follows the jump.

Iran’s veneer of stoicism toward the Western sanctions that have disrupted its economy showed some new strains on Monday, as the deputy oil minister acknowledged a decline in domestic petroleum production because of dwindling foreign investment, and four-year-old talks between the Iranians and Poland’s biggest natural gas developer collapsed.

The Iranians also suffered an embarrassment after prematurely announcing that a Russian oil company had committed $1 billion to help revive a dormant oil field in Iran’s southwest. Hours later, the Russian company, Tatneft, denied on its Web site that a deal had been signed. And there were signals that Saudi Arabia, which Iran had confidently predicted last week would not increase oil production to compensate for any Iranian shortfall caused by the sanctions, was becoming increasingly irritated with Iran.

Together, the developments portrayed Iran, with the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves, as struggling more than it had admitted from the effects of the Western sanctions, despite its official denunciations of them as desperate measures doomed to fail or backfire.

The sanctions, imposed to pressure Iran into ending its suspect nuclear program, were strengthened last month, with the possibility of more onerous restrictions on Iran’s central bank and oil industry looming from the United   States and the European Union. Under a measure that is likely to be signed into law by President Obama, foreign entities that do business with Iran’s central bank, the conduit for Iran’s oil revenue, could face severe penalties if they do business in the United States.

Iran’s deputy oil minister, Ahmad Qalebani, appeared to have made an unusual disclosure about the effects of sanctions in an article reported by the official Iranian Students’ News Agency, which quoted him as saying Iran’s crude oil production in 2011 had declined from the year before. He said the decline was ‘due to lack of investment in oil field development.’

Iran produced about 4 million barrels a day of oil in 2010 and is producing about 3.5 million barrels this year.

Mr. Qalebani’s disclosure followed recent warnings by other Iranian officials that the effects of sanctions had become more acute. The foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying, ‘We cannot pretend the sanctions are not having an effect.’ The governor of Iran’s central bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, told reporters in Iran last week that the country must act as if it were ‘under siege,’ Agence France-Presse reported.

“Emergency Committee for Israel” Treats Truth Like a Punching Bag


A response to ads placed by the so-called “Emergency Committee for Israel” in major American newspapers today.

— by Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris

Why does the “Emergency Committee for Israel” treat the truth like a punching bag? Why do they spread fictions and smears about President Barack Obama and his powerfully pro-Israel record? The answer is simple; because they are far-right Republican partisans. When members of their own party repeatedly suggest that foreign aid should ‘start at zero’ and then make no mention of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the U.S., they’re silent as can be. When 100 percent of House Republicans repeatedly side with business over strengthening Iran sanctions, they’re nowhere to be found. But they have plenty of cash on hand to spread myths about this President, and to shamefully turn support for Israel into a partisan football.

They have been called out by mass media for their lies and innuendo, and by non-partisan Jewish organizations trying to shame them towards a better path. But the sad truth is that they’re more committed to hurting this President than they are to helping the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that’s reprehensible.

More information on ECI’s false attacks follows the jump.

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ECI: Wrong on Panetta.

Fact: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delivered a staunchly pro-Israel address recently at the Saban Center. He:

  • Reaffirmed this Administration’s iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security, and detailed the many steps-such as Iron Dome-this Administration has taken;
  • Emphasized that all options remain on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran;
  • Discussed how “President Obama has stood steadfastly in the way” of efforts to delegitimize Israel at the United Nations; and
  • Expressed strong opposition to cutting foreign aid.

ECI: Wrong on the UN.

Fact: President Obama and his Administration have a perfect voting record at the United Nations, proactively defending Israel’s legitimacy at the UN. No other President since 1967 has a perfect voting record.

ECI: Wrong on Sarkozy and UNESCO.

Fact: The President used his time with Sarkozy to make the case to the world to place “unprecedented” pressure on Iran, and-behind the scenes-to argue to Sarkozy himself that he was wrong not to support the President and the Administration in firmly rejecting Palestinian efforts to gain membership in UNESCO. The President instructed the Administration to condemn UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestinian membership immediately, resulting in the withdrawal of one-fifth of UNESCO’s funding from the U.S.

ECI: Wrong on Clinton.

Fact: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an off-the-record and closed-door discussion with friends at the Saban Center, is reported to have voiced concern over Israeli legislation limiting foreign funding of Israel’s non-governmental organizations, and regarding women’s rights in Israel. In fact, leadership throughout the American Jewish community share precisely the same concern regarding pending legislation in Israel, and both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres have spoken this week about the importance of complete women’s equality in Israel.

ECI: Wrong on making Israel a partisan political football.

Fact: In truth, as NJDC Chair Marc Stanley argued in The Hill</a> last week, ECI is sadly nothing more than a GOP advocacy organization. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, two major American Jewish non-partisan organizations, recently offered a “unity pledge” to help prevent this issue from becoming partisan; ECI notably, angrily refused to sign. The Forward reported in September about the criticisms leveled at ECI from many non-partisan pro-Israel advocates after ECI’s last dangerous ad. The American Jewish Committee in particular called their previous ad “highly objectionable.” The Forward has independently editorialized that each ECI “claim is either an outright falsehood or one that irresponsibly distorts the truth.” ECI puts partisanship above the U.S.-Israel relationship, and today’s ad proves it yet again.

ECI: Wrong on President Obama.

Fact: This President has a stellar pro-Israel record; just ask Prime Minister Netanyahu. This President doesn’t start foreign aid at zero; he has lifted aid to Israel to unprecedented levels. He’s gotten the funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system that’s saving Israeli lives today. He has a perfect voting record at the UN, defending Israel’s legitimacy there and around the world. He personally intervened to save the lives of Israeli diplomats in Cairo. He has restored Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge which eroded during the previous Administration. He secretly got Israel the bunker-busting bombs it needed. He has ordered the largest-ever U.S.-Israel joint military operation (to occur in 2012). He has built a global coalition supporting withering sanctions against Iran.

The list goes on and on.  

Send Obama A Message!


— by Rabbi Avi Shafran

The Obama administration considers Israel a sponsor of terror — at least according to Dick Morris, the disgraced ex-advisor to Bill Clinton, and a host of self-styled “conservative” media. The news was shocking — well, maybe not to the clever folks who knew all along that the president is a secret Muslim, but certainly to the rest of us.

What turned out to be the case is that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency maintains a list of 36 “specially designated countries” whose immigrating citizens get extra scrutiny because their nations “promote, produce or protect terrorist organizations or their members.” Note the word “or.”

“Produce,” in this context, means that terrorists reside in the country. Thus, countries like the Philippines and Morocco, along with Israel, are on the list. Approximately a million and a half Israeli citizens are Arabs-many of whom have ties to Arab residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So no, with apologies to Mr. Morris et al, the U.S. does not consider Israel a terror sponsor.

What makes some people all too ready to misrepresent such things is that many Americans, especially in the Jewish community, have deep concerns about President Obama’s Middle East policies. My personal view is that these concerns are overblown. While I realize there are other opinions, as far as I can tell Mr. Obama’s positions on building in the settlements and on the terms of Israel-Palestinian negotiations have been American policy since long before his presidency.

Even doubters of Mr. Obama’s good will, though, should recognize the import of the administration’s declared readiness to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. That stance risks the U.S.’s international political capital and may even, G-d forbid, come to threaten Americans’ safety. Might it speak more loudly about the president than his opposition to new settlements?

Speaking equally loudly is what happened on September 9, when Mr. Obama acted swiftly to warn Egyptian authorities that they had better protect Israeli embassy guards in Cairo besieged by a mob. When Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minster Barak were unable to reach the apparently indisposed Egyptian military leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spent hours hounding the Egyptian, finally reaching him at 1 AM to let him know that if anything happened to the Israelis, there would be “very severe consequences.” Egyptian soldiers protected the hostages until an Israeli Air Force plane safely evacuated them.

Mr. Netanyahu later recounted that he had asked for Mr. Obama’s help and that the president had replied that he would do everything he could. “And so he did,” testified the Prime Minister.  

It may not be meaningful for many, but I was struck two days later on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks when the president, betraying his Islamic beliefs (joke!), chose for his reading at the New York ceremony the 46th chapter of Tehillim. The one including the words (in the White House’s translation):

“Though its waters roar and be troubled… there’s a river whose streams shall make glad the City of G-d, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High.”

And:

“The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Whatever our takes on this or that statement or position, hard facts are not up for debate.

Let’s not forget some such facts:

  • The Obama administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any American administration;
  • he has repeatedly declared (first in 2009 in Cairo during his speech to the Arab world) that the bond between the U.S. and Israel is “unbreakable”;
  • his Secretary of State lectured Al-Jazeera that “when the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon they got Hezbollah and 40,000 rockets and when they pulled out of Gaza they got Hamas and 20,000 rockets”;
  • his State Department has condemned the Palestinian Authority’s “factually incorrect” denial of the Western Wall’s connection to the Jewish people;
  • and much more.

Last week, in the lead-up to a Congressional election in Brooklyn  in which Jews had ample other reason to vote against the Democratic candidate, some ads presented the contest as an opportunity to “Send Obama a Message”-which some Jews took to mean an angry message about Israel.

Many thoughtful Jews, though, have a different message for Mr. Obama:

"Thank you."