JTA: Obama “Owns U.S. Backing for Iron Dome”

JTA’s Ron Kampeas wrote that President Barack Obama rightfully deserves credit for his leadership in support of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Kampeas wrote:

The following assertion has been up occasionally in the conservative blogosphere: That Iron Dome, the system that successfully defended Israel from a recent spate of Gaza-based rocket attacks, was launched under the aegis of President George W. Bush.

But that turns out not to be correct. In fact, Obama more or less owns U.S. backing for Iron Dome.

Conservatives who make the claim seek to undercut another recurrent meme peddled by pro-Israel Democrats, that President Obama’s decision to underwrite the project is evidence of his pro-Israel bona fides (Obama earmarked $205 million for Iron Dome above and beyond the $3 billion average that Israel gets in defense assistance each year, and Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, is working with lawmakers in Congress who want to appropriate more for additional batteries.)…

A Congressional Research Service report in March (PDF) assessing foreign aid to Israel squarely attributes funding to Obama. (The Iron Dome chapter starts on p. 10 and an illustrative chart is on p. 15.)

In March 2010, the Obama Administration announced that it would support $205 million in defense assistance to Israel for the purchase of up to ten Iron Dome batteries.

Israel began developing Iron Dome in 2005 and it became a priority in 2007, but there’s no evidence that Bush gave funding for the project an advance nod. The Pentagon spokesman in this May 2010 Reuters report pegs the funding decision to the fall of 2009, when Obama was president.

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.