Israel Frequent Subject At Democratic National Convention

The New York Times has developed a wonderful tool to see how often any given word was used at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

There was a bit of excitement at the DNC as Democrats were criticized for removing any mention of Israel from their platform (Republicans had removed all but one mention of Israel from their platform.) Democrats were quick to amend the platform and restore the language regarding Israel.

However, I still wondered how central Israel was to the Democrats and the Republicans at the National Conventions, so I used the New York Times’ “At the National Conventions, the Words They Used” tool:

It turns out that Democrats mentioned Israel over four times as often as did Republicans.

At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, Democrats mentioned Israel 68 times per 250,000 words.

Former US Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) led the pack along with discussion of Israel by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, Republicans mentioned Israel 15 times per 250,000 words.

Israel was mentioned by Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Congressional candidate Mark Meadows (R-TX).

Examples from all eight speakers follow the jump.
Robert Wexler (D-FL), Former U.S. representative

Four years ago, I stood at the convention podium in Denver affirming Barack Obama’s heartfelt, steadfast commitment to the state of Israel.

Over the past four years, the president has proven this commitment time and again, in both word and deed. And the Democratic platform reflects the president’s unflinching commitment to Israel’s security and future as a Jewish state.

To strengthen Israel’s qualitative military advantage, the president has increased security assistance to Israel to record levels — more than any other president.

When he visited Sderot in 2008 — an Israeli town along the Gaza border besieged by constant rocket attacks, President Obama saw for himself the toll terrorism takes on Israelis. And that’s why he secured the funds to deploy the iron dome anti-rocket defense system which has already saved countless Israeli lives.

And under President Obama, the U.S. and Israel are firmly committed to stopping one of the gravest threats to international security: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. The president has explicitly stated that an Iranian nuclear weapon is “unacceptable” And that He will mobilize all instruments of U.S. power- economic, diplomatic, Intelligence, And military — to prevent, not contain, a nuclear Iran.

Due to the president’s strong leadership, Iran is more isolated than ever. He has marshaled the international community to impose the most crippling sanctions in history. Iran’s oil exports have plummeted and its currency value has been slashed in half.

Not only has he stoodup to Iran, President Obama Also has bravely Stood up for Israel In the international community.

  • When the anti-Israel Goldstone report was released, questioning Israel’s right to self-defense, President Obama challenged it.
  • When the U.N. held the Israel-bashing Durban conference, President ObamaLed an international boycott of it.
  • When a violent Egyptian mob stormed the Israeli embassy In Cairo, it was President Obama Whointervened to ensure the safety Of the Israelis Trapped inside.
  • In the wake Of the Gaza flotilla, President Obama’s support for Israel never waned.

Now, the president’s opponents have been busy distorting his record.

Last week, Mitt Romney claimed that the president has thrown Israel “under the bus.”

Perhaps Mr. Romney should listen to those who know best — Israel’s leaders.

  • Listen to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has thanked president Obama For “unprecedented” security cooperation and for wearing His support For the Jewish state as a “badge of honor.”
  • Listen to Defense minister Ehud Barak Who has repeatedly declared that president Obama Has done more for Israeli security than any U.S. president He can remember.
  • And listen to Israel’s beloved president, Shimon Peres, Who recently said, “Mr. President, You have pledged a lasting friendship For Israel. You stated that Israel’s security is ‘sacrosanct’ for you. So you pledged. So you act. So you’re acting. As a great leader, as a genuine friend.”

Now is the time to continue the strong us-Israel relationship.

Now is the time to stand with Israel As it works toward peace and security… Toward two states, a secure Israel Living side by side with an independent, Non-militarized Palestinian state.

Now is the time to support Israel As a thriving, Democratic, and secure homeland for the Jewish people by re-electing Barack Obama As president of the United States.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel, to tighten sanctions on Iran and take nothing off the table.

And when it comes to Israel, my friends, I’ll take the word of Israel’s prime minister over Mitt Romney any day.

Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY)

When it comes to one of our closest allies, Israel, President Obama has been resolute. (Cheers, applause.) The two biggest threats to Israel are the threat of nuclear weapons from Iran and the launching of Hezbollah rockets from Lebanon.

The president has imposed the toughest sanctions ever on Iran, and provided record amounts of security to aid Israel.

President Barack Obama (D-IL)

Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)

President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus – (boos) – even has he as relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (R-CA)

They know that our friends and allies must again be able to trust us. From Israel to Colombia, from Poland to the Philippines, our allies and friends have to know that we will be reliable and consistent and determined.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

We can’t afford to cause our friends and allies, from Latin America, to Europe, to Asia, to the Middle East and especially in Israel, a nation under existential threat, to doubt America’s leadership.

Congressional Candidate Mark Meadows (R-NC)

We need a White House that will unflinchingly support our strongest ally, Israel. (Cheers, applause.) We need a president who believes in America.

Barry Rubin’s Fuzzy Thinking

Barry Rubin— by Steve Sheffey

A recent article by Barry Rubin provides a preview of the misleading arguments and half-truths we can expect from now until November. Rubin compresses so much nonsense into so little space that I’ll only cover some of his article today, and the rest later.

Rubin begins his article with a strawman argument, that we claim President Obama is good simply because he speaks warmly about Israel. It is true that President Obama speaks warmly about Israel, but his record is the basis for the claim that he is strong on Israel.

President Obama’s record on Israel is outstanding.

President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program, restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, taken US-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

Not all presidents say “nice” things about Israel.

Rubin gets it wrong even on his own terms. Words do matter, and not all presidents say nice things about Israel. Gerald Ford threatened to reassess America’s strategic relations with Israel, Ronald Reagan condemned Israel’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Bush I decried lobbyists for Israel (he actually attacked citizen lobbyists like you and me), and in 2003 Bush II rebuked then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by rescinding $289.5 million in loan guarantees for Israel as punishment for what Bush considered illegal settlement activity. In 2004, the Bush administration abstained rather than veto a UN resolution condemning Israel for its actions in Gaza during a military operation aimed at stopping terrorism and weapons smuggling. If President Obama had done anything like what Ford, Reagan, Bush I or Bush II had done to Israel, then maybe Rubin would have something to write about.

It is true that President Obama speaks warmly of Israel, but Rubin leaves out to whom President Obama speaks warmly about Israel.

It’s easy to tell AIPAC how important the US-Israel relationship is. AIPAC already knows. The difference between President Obama and previous presidents is that President Obama eloquently delivers the case for Israel and a strong US-Israel relationship to those who need to hear it most.

During the 2008 campaign, I participated in a conference call with Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), one of Israel’s best friends in Congress in either party. Rothman asked us to imagine the impact of a president named Barack Hussein Obama telling the entire world, including the Arab world, that America stands with Israel.

That’s exactly what President Obama did when he went to Cairo in 2009 and told the Arab and Muslim world that America’s bond with Israel is “unbreakable.”

He told the Arab and Muslim world, a world rife with Holocaust denial, that to deny the Holocaust is “baseless, ignorant, and hateful.”  He told them that threatening Israel with destruction is “deeply wrong.” He said that “Palestinians must abandon violence” and that “it is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.” And he said that “Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.” Who knows where we’d be today if previous Presidents had had the courage to personally deliver this message on Arab soil.

In 2011, President Obama went to the UN, another forum not known for its love for Israel, and told the world that

America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.

These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.

The Israeli newspaper Yehidot Aharonot said that “An American President has never given such a pro-Israel speech at the UN.”

Isn’t that what we want from our President?

Under President Obama, the US-Israel relationship is warmer than ever.

Yet Rubin says that President Obama is “cold” toward Israel. Former Congressman Robert Wexler explained just last month that this “coldness” argument is

the argument Republican surrogates make. They say he’s cold. I hear that he doesn’t feel Israel in his kishkes. I think that’s something you say when you don’t have any factual arguments to make. What does it mean that he’s cold? Does being cold mean articulating the strongest pro-Israel argument ever at the UN – a forum not warm to Israel? Is it cold that America has engaged in the largest joint military operation between the US and Israel in Israel’s history during the Obama administration? Is it cold that more than 200 high-level Pentagon officials visited Israel during the last calendar year? Is it cold that America and Israel will likely engage in an even larger joint military exercise this year? And I’ll tell you one group who doesn’t believe the relationship is cold – that’s the current leadership in Tehran.

No wonder the vast majority of Jews vote Democratic and will continue to vote Democratic.

Aside from exceptions like Congressmen Joe Walsh and Ron Paul, the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans support pro-Israel positions. But only the Democratic party is good on Israel and the other values we cherish.

Dems Denounce Perry/Romney Call to “Zero Out” Aid to Israel

— by Jason Attermann

This weekend, leading Republican presidential candidates Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney called for zeroing out the foreign aid budget, which includes vital aid to Israel that maintains its Qualitative Military Edge.

Reactions from the NJDC, White House, DNC, Wexler, Levine and Bloomfield follow the jump.
National Jewish Democratic Council

On Monday, the National Jewish Democratic Council organized a petition to send a clear message to the Republican Party that zeroing out aid to Israel is not acceptable.

White House

The White House objected the proposal, citing instances in which President Barack Obama’s support to Israel-including record-breaking assistance above and beyond the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding — played a crucial role in defending the Jewish state. When asked about Perry’s and Romney’s policy to start aid at zero, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said:

Well, I can certainly say that is not an approach that this administration has taken.  There are a number of countries where the United States directly benefits from having a role in those countries, and that we can certainly help-that the provision of civilian assistance is critical to the success of promoting American interests and serving American interests in countries around the world.

The first one that comes to mind is obviously Afghanistan. But the other example that’s been talked about is Israel, and that certainly one of the things that the President has done is strengthened our ties with that country, and provided significant assistance in the form of the Iron Dome project and others that are critical to Israel’s security.

So these are the kinds of-it’s the President’s view that this is an appropriate use of government resources, particularly when we’re in the time when the federal government has to tighten-we have to tighten our belts, and we need to scrub the budget, go line by line to look for opportunities where we can reduce the budget and cut the budget. But we can’t do it at the expense of ensuring that our interests are well represented and well promoted all around the world….

I can say that it’s an approach that’s entirely different than the one that President Obama has pursued.

Democratic National Committee

Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) rebuked the candidates:

I’m aghast that the leading Republican contenders for President tonight, including Mitt Romney, pledged to zero out the foreign aid budget including the traditional and vital support the U.S. has provided the Jewish state of Israel for its security. I cannot think of a more irresponsible, risky or deplorable position towards our most important friend and ally. That Mitt Romney and these candidates would sacrifice the security of the state of Israel for an applause line at a debate and to appeal to the far right wing Tea Party faction of the Republican base, shows that not a single one of them has what it takes to be Commander-in-Chief.

Robert Wexler

Haaretz’s Natasha Mozgovaya reported on former Representative Robert Wexler’s (D-FL) press conference, in which he called the candidates’ position “troubling.”

‘Romney was torn between two constituencies. He had an opportunity to appease the Tea Party constituency. On the other hand, he knew those who support Israel would feel differently – and he made his choice,’ Wexler explained.

For almost half an hour, Wexler lashed out at the Republican presidential hopefuls’ approach. ‘What is the most troubling in the position the Republican candidates took with such enthusiasm, is the fact they ignored the memorandum of understanding with Israel in 2007 that America agreed to provide $30 billion of military assistance to Israel in 10 years, and now we are in the third year of it,’ he said.

‘They either ignore it or intend to violate it. This memorandum of understanding is sacrosanct – and they have no intention to implement it or strengthen it as President Obama did. Ideas to minimize it, relocate it, zero it out are unfortunately designed to put the foreign aid on shakier ground, and it’s unacceptable. It particularly sends disturbing and dangerous message to nations like Iran. If you zero out the foreign aid to other countries, the aid to Israel is unsustainable,’ he added.

He further warned of the dire consequences America and Israel would face if Israel’s foreign aid was cut as proposed.

Mel Levine

Former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) questioned Romney’s agreement with Perry’s suggestion to zero out foreign aid, asking, “Is this his idea of how the U.S. should increase needed support for Israel?”

Gov. Romney recklessly and inaccurately misrepresents President Obama’s record of leadership in foreign policy in general. His disdain for the President Obama’s foreign policy conveniently ignores the president’s leadership in building international coalitions which have imposed exceptionally stiff sanctions on Iran….

And, ironically, in terms of inventing his own facts, the core policies Romney advocates have already been accomplished by President Obama. (Perhaps the former Governor has not been paying attention.) For example, Romney argues that current sanctions against Iran are weak and specifically states that ‘if there ever was a possibility of gaining the Kremlin’s support for tougher sanctions against Tehran … President Obama foreclosed it.’ But he fails to recognize that President Obama succeeded, where others had failed, in obtaining both Russian and Chinese support for international sanctions against Iran, sanctions as a result of the president’s leadership are the strongest that have been obtained by any U.S. president.

Douglas Bloomfield

In writing about this topic, The Jewish Week’s Douglas Bloomfield made an interesting observation about the backpedaling statements issued by the Romney and Perry campaigns:

[M]ost revealing, neither candidate pledged to maintain the current level of U.S. aid to Israel under the agreement signed during the Bush Administration and extending beyond the end of the term of the president to be elected next year.