Obama, Romney Respond To AJC Poll: Question 5 (Human Rights)

The American Jewish Committee has posted answers to President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s responses to a questionnaire from the organization.

Four questions have been posted so far. Question 5 follows below. The remaining questions and the responses from the two candidates will be posted daily over the next week. Stay tuned.

Question 5: More than sixty years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism continues to be a major element in political discourse and manifest itself in criminal acts in parts of Europe, Latin America and elsewhere. In Arab states, religious pluralism and tolerance of minority faiths are frequently under challenge — and anti-Zionism all too often is revealed as hatred of Jews. What role do you think the U.S. can and should play in fighting anti-Semitism across the globe, and in combating racism and religious persecution more generally? What sanctions and other measures should be employed by the U.S. in response to systematic and egregious human rights violations by foreign nations?

Response from President Obama

“Never again” is a challenge to reject hatred in all of its forms — including anti-Semitism, which has no place in a civilized world. It is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security — and that includes the State of Israel. I’ll never forget what I saw at Buchenwald, where so many perished with the words of Sh’ma Yisrael on their lips. I’ve stood with survivors in the old Warsaw ghettos, and I’ve walked those sacred grounds at Yad Vashem. The Holocaust cannot be denied, and it cannot be forgotten.

The United States must always be on the front lines in standing against anti-Semitism. When children are taught anti-Semitism, we will speak out against it. When efforts are made to equate Zionism with racism, we reject them. When international bodies single out Israel with unfair resolutions, we vote against them. When attempts are made to delegitimize Israel, we oppose them. When faced today with a regime in Tehran that denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map, we make it clear we will do whatever is necessary to make sure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon, putting our security and the security of our allies at risk.

Last year, I issued a presidential directive making it clear that preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States. That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there’s an injustice in the world. We cannot and should not. But it does mean that we possess many tools — diplomatic and political, economic and financial, intelligence, military, and law enforcement, and, of course, our moral persuasion. Using these tools, we have stood up for the basic rights of people in places like Libya, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, and Uganda. And we will continue to do so, because it’s what we as Americans understand is the right thing to do.

Response from Governor Mitt Romney

Anti-Semitism is a poison. History has shown time and again that it is dangerous to the countries that ingest it, as it is dangerous to world peace. It’s an affront to the values of our civilization that the leaders of Iran openly peddle anti-Semitic ideas. Given Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s calls for the state of Israel to be wiped from the map, I will press for his indictment for the crime of incitement of genocide. I will lead the fight against the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. I will convene a summit that brings together world leaders, donor organizations, and young leaders of groups that espouse the principles of representative government, religious pluralism, economic opportunity, women’s and minority rights, and freedom of conscience in the Arab world. I will also speak forthrightly in defense of religious liberty, both here in the United States and abroad. The United States must be clear that to be fully trusted partners in the international system, nations must respect the human rights of their people.


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