My Republican Haggadah: An oldie but goodie

Editor’s Note: This “Republican Haggadah” first appeared in the Huffington Post in 2012. However, except for the references to the 2012 Presidential election the humor is timeless. Enjoy!

— by Steve Sheffey

Jewish history is littered with sects, groups of people kind of like Jews who celebrate the same holidays and have many of the same customs, yet are somehow different.

Today’s sect is known as “Jewish Republicans,” few in number but very loud. Like most Jews, they celebrate Pesach, but they’ve got their own Haggadah. The differences between their Haggadah and ours are instructive.

After drinking the first cup of wine, most Jews wash their hands, but the Republicans stay seated and wait for the water to trickle down.

Most Jews then eat a green vegetable, but the Republican Haggadah follows the ruling of Rabbi Reagan that ketchup qualifies as a vegetable. Ketchup is not green, but green is the last thing any Republican would want to be. (Reagan does have this in common with Moses: Neither ever set foot in the land of Israel.)

More after the jump.
Next we break the middle of the three matzot. Most Jews break the middle matzah into two roughly equal pieces, replacing the smaller piece on the Seder plate and hiding the larger piece as the afikoman. The Republican Haggadah asks the leader (or in Republican parlance, the Seder CEO) to keep 99 percent of the matzah for himself and let the other participants share the remaining 1 percent.

The Torah speaks of four sons, but the Republican Haggadah speaks of four candidates: The simple candidate (Santorum), the wicked candidate (Paul), the candidate who does not know how to answer (Romney), and the simple candidate who thinks he’s the wise candidate (Gingrich). They have no wise candidates.

The highlight of the Republican Haggadah is its version of “Dayenu” — “it would have been enough.” The Republican motto when it comes to President Obama is “nothing is enough” — no matter how much President Obama does for Israel, it’s never enough for some of our Republican friends:

President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin Laden.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama has done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama increased security assistance to Israel to record levels.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama boycotted Durban II and Durban III.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama has taken U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama cast his only veto in the U.N. against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama opposed the Goldstone Report.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama immediately intervened to rescue Israelis trapped in the Egyptian embassy.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama gave orders to give Israel “whatever it needs” to put out the Carmel fire.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama maintained the U.S. policy of ambiguity on Israel’s nuclear weapons.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama has repeatedly condemned Palestinian incitement against Israel and attempts to delegitimize Israel.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama pulled out of joint exercises with Turkey after Turkey excluded Israel.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

There’s probably nothing President Obama can do to convince some Republicans that he’s pro-Israel. If President Obama split the Sea of Reeds and walked through it dry-shod, they’d accuse him of not being able to swim. They made their mind up before he was elected that he could not be trusted and they ignore everything that contradicts their biases.

The ultimate message of the real Haggadah is hope (sound familiar?). Let’s hope that just as the vast majority of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008, the vast majority of us will remember who we are and what we value and vote to re-elect President Obama in 2012.

Republicans Seek to Fight Against Obama in Syria

Republicans who had been criticizing President Obama for refusing to arm the Syrian opposition, suddenly became critics of any intervention whatsoever when the president proposed the limited strike.

— by Steve Sheffey

Republicans proved during the Syria debate that they will oppose President Obama simply for the sake of opposing him, all for partisan gain. Politicians used to at least pay lip service to a bipartisan foreign policy, but no longer.

Former Congressman Barney Frank summarized the situation accurately:

Many Republicans who had been criticizing President Obama for refusing to arm the Syrian opposition, and some of whom advocated American combat aircraft establishing a “no fly” zone against the Syrian air force, suddenly became critics of any intervention whatsoever when the president proposed the limited strike to penalize President Bashar al-Assad for his use of chemical weapons. Democracy does not require people who oppose a president’s military actions to stay silent in the interest of bipartisanship, but what we have here is the exact opposite: partisan opponents of the president completely reversing their position once the president moves in the direction they had previously attacked him for not taking.

Continued after the jump.

The argument that they are now critical of his doing anything because he is not doing more is not a serious one. There is a significant body of Republicans prepared to attack Obama for any decision he makes, even if that requires them to reverse positions they previously held.

Courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen.

President Obama outlined his foreign policy in his U.N. speech. The bottom line on Syria is that we have achieved all of our objectives without firing a single shot. On Friday night, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. That was a major victory for the U.S.

The U.S. position on Iran is also clear: Iran cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. A diplomatic solution is better than a military solution, but all options must remain on the table. Iran is willing to talk only because economic sanctions are taking their toll; it would be foolish to ease up, until and unless Iran backs up its conciliatory words with actions.

Israel and many others remain skeptical about Iran’s intentions. A senior Administration official said on Friday that:

The Israeli government has every right to be skeptical of the Iranian government, given the statements that have come out of Iran in the past — extraordinarily inflammatory statements about Israel, threats towards Israel’s existence — given that history, I think it is entirely understandable and appropriate for the Israeli government to be deeply skeptical…

We’ve made clear that words need to be followed by actions, and ultimately it’s going to be the actions of the Iranian government through this diplomatic process that is going to make the difference. And so when we consider things like potential sanctions relief, we’re going to need to see a meaningful agreement and meaningful actions by the Iranian government before the pressure that’s in place can be relieved… The bottom line for us is that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

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Syria: A Need for Action, With No Clear Goal

When children die indiscriminately at the hands of a dictator, our natural instinct is to protect and prevent.

— by Adam L. Beitman

This week, as the government is carefully building up public support for intervention in Syria, a consideration of recent history and the current situation in the Middle East presses itself upon us. More than anywhere else in the region, the dynamic in Syria illustrates the complexity of America’s conflicting foreign policy considerations, along with the impossibility of determining where our strategic interests (however conceived) reside.

When children die indiscriminately at the hands of a dictator, our natural instinct is to protect and prevent. Our impulse to stop these abuses, however we can, is the right one. Yet, beyond that impulse, current U.S. foreign policy toward Syria has no clear goal.

More after the jump.
In 2011, the United States intervened in Libya, using airstrikes to help rebels overthrow that country’s long time dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Plans in the works for Syria, which have been detailed extensively in U.S. newspapers’ front pages, outline a similar strategy.

The immediate difference appears to be that the aerial bombers will come only after seeing what can be done to cripple the government’s capacity, by using missiles launched from ships in the eastern Mediterranean. The hope is that enough Russian-made weapon systems and strategic infrastructure can be destroyed, so that the regime re-considers its use of chemical weapons (those weapons themselves, for obvious reasons, will not be targeted). Perhaps enough damage can be done to help the rebels overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

The problem for the U.S. is that there is no unqualified benefit, however defined, to overthrowing the Assad regime — just as there is no decisive benefit to maintaining it.

On one side sits the Syrian government, a military dictatorship that survives through a combination of force, and loyalty among the Alawite and associated elite, which controls the government and military apparatus. On the other side is a loose assemblage of rebel groups: Some motivated by Islamic fundamentalism; others by tribal, religious and ethnic loyalties; and still others by hatred of the regime, which has created plenty of enemies in the old fashioned way.

Both Assad and his father, who ruled before him, have maintained the situation along the Golan Heights undetermined, frosty, and yet conflict-free for decades.

To understand the consequences of Assad’s downfall, one must consider the structural differences between Egypt and Syria. For all the troubles in Egypt, the military there has consistently been the common — secular — denominator, largely independent of ethnic and tribal strife. The Egyptian military’s removal of Hosni Mubarak can be viewed as a secular organization eliminating one of its own, without the fear that the lack of a single individual would bring its power base crashing down.

The Syrian military does not have the same confidence, because removing Assad could prove tantamount to Alawite self-immolation. The only thing the Alawis fear more than a civil war, is the massacre that would come after should they wind up on the losing side. That, above all, explains why the extreme violence in the Syrian conflict has dragged on so much longer than in Egypt. The result of a downfall of the regime could be as bad, and as big a human rights disaster, as what is currently happening in the country.

With regard to both Israeli and U.S. foreign affairs, apart from human rights considerations, the choice between Assad and the rebels is a mixed bag, and the scales weigh fairly evenly: The Alawites function as a direct conduit for Iranian influence in neighboring Lebanon, where the Shiite group Hezbollah acts as one of the Jewish state’s fiercest and most ideologically committed enemies. Even so, both Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad, who ruled before him, have maintained the situation along the Golan Heights, almost without exception, undetermined, frosty, and yet conflict-free for decades.

If the rebels topple the regime, Assad’s current abuses will end. But, at the same time, that will provide an opportunity for the regional Sunni powers (including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Gulf states) to fill a power vacuum in what will become a Sunni-dominated state with no intact political structure. The consequences of that are unknown, and might turn out very bad — potentially leading to a regional war, with the capacity to draw in any, and maybe every, state in the region.

For both Israel and the U.S., to say the least, the instability and violence created in this scenario is nothing to hope for, particularly in light of what is happening now to Israel’s south, in Egypt.

In sum, any immediate U.S. action in Syria would feel like an action for action’s sake. Rightly, we cannot bear the scale of violence, and want the killing to stop. Unfortunately, whether we intervene or not, the situation is unlikely to change for the better. If we intervene, under virtually any scenario, it would be a futile effort, that would be just as likely as not to make things worse than they already are.

No matter how one looks at the situation, there are no good choices, and even fewer good results to hope for. We ought not to expect that such an action would have any positive effect, apart from helping to ease our consciences.

Cartoons reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen

Adam L. Beitman is a Democratic political and communications strategist based in Washington, D.C.

Congresspersons’ Syria Dilemma

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch.

There are a lot of “whip counts” on the House of Representatives, indicating a firm "nay" on intervening in Syria. From the Senate whip count, it appears that there are more undecideds than anything else. That this may well change after President Barack Obama's Tuesday night address, but from reports it seems that the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to any action in Syria, except humanitarian aid and diplomacy, which will tend to make Reps. wary of voting "yea."

The Senate will vote first, which potentially precludes a House vote. The first thing to note is that the Senate, and some members of the House, know a lot more about what is going on in Syria then we do. That is why they call them "classified briefings," and they may be the reason that so many Senators are undecided. 

More after the jump.

Some believe it is imperative to bomb Syria, and their reasons are simple: Chemical weapons cannot be tolerated; reining president Bashar al-Assad will use them again if we do not stop him; and we are the United States, so it is our responsibility to lead the world. 

Others are so war weary, that they do not care about the chemical weapons. They just see the situation as a way to get embroiled in 10 years of yet another war in the Middle East, with the potential to spread outside of Syria, and possibly into a World War III. 

If I had to prognosticate, I would believe we will bomb, beginning on Sunday, Sept. 15. In addition to bombing, we will surgically remove Assad and his regime. 

But what I am interested in is the party politics going forward. We have been saying since 2009 that the Republican Party is imploding, and there is a huge schism caused by the rise of the Tea Party. And this is another rift for them: the GOP has always been the party of war, of neocons, and of the military-industrial complex. The "daddy" party, if you will. If they all vote “nay,” or enough of them do to preclude congressional concurrence, Obama can certainly still bomb, and if it is successful, that wing of the party is in trouble for 2016. In every debate they would get asked, "Why didn't you stand up for America?"

A different set of problems presents itself for the Democrats. All House Democrats, and a lot of Democratic Senators, will be running next year. Into their calculus is certainly whether they would want to be seen as standing with or against the President on the issue. If the bombing turns into a war, voting "yea" would hurt them. However, voting "nay" before a successful bombing would mean a lot of explaining to the rank and file during any primaries, and possibly problems raising money down the road.

The decision that each member of Congress makes will not be simple. While some people are incredibly hawkish, and would vote “yea” for any  military action; and while the Democratic leadership is obligated to vote with the President; this is a vote of conscience, not of party.  For the first time since he has been in office (since 2001), my Congressman sent me an email, asking my opinion as to go or no-go. I am pretty sure that this email went to every email address in the district that his office could get its hands on. I understand that a lot of Reps. have been reaching out, in addition to taking calls. 

The countrywide discussion is a good thing. I am sorry that not every country has this sort of verbal intercourse prior to every potential military action. There may be options which will solve the problem of chemical weapons without causing additional deaths. 

My personal preference is to seek a diplomatic solution, and failing that, to arm the moderate rebels, and not the jihadists. It is also important to lead a humanitarian relief effort for the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Greece, and the other countries to which they have escaped. I do not see an upside to the bombing — only potential disasters. But that is just one girl's opinion. What is yours?

Time: Israel and U.S. Coordinating How to Target Assad’s Arsenal

— by Jason Berger

On Friday, Time reported that the United States and Israel are coordinating closely on how best to target President Bashar al Assad’s chemical weapons arsenals. Earlier this month, the U.S. placed F-16s and Patriot missile batteries in Jordan. In regards to the weapons placement, an Israeli official noted, “It’s a clear, purposeful presence of a strike force near the border of Syria. I think it’s a message, a clear message.” The U.S. also installed Patriot batteries in Turkey last year.

Most importantly, though, Israeli officials told Time that the U.S. and Israel were planning for assorted scenarios where they could conceivably search and destroy all of Assad’s 18 chemical weapons arsenals.

More after the jump.
According to Time:

One scenario would be the sudden removal of Assad from the scene, be it by flight, death or if he simply disappears. That would prompt the allies to launch operations on the estimated 18 depots and other sites where WMDs are stored, the officials said. Search and destroy operations would also be launched if the weapons appeared to be about to fall into the hands of the rebels, which include Islamist extremists aligned with al-Qaeda.

Israeli officials also emphasized that it had not been decided who would do what or if the U.S. would deploy troops on the ground. They said it is vital that all chemical and biological weapons are neutralized. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu mentioned his resolve to BBC in April:

The main arms of concern to us are the arms that are already in Syria — these are anti-aircraft weapons, these are chemical weapons and other very, very dangerous weapons that could be game changers. They will change the conditions, the balance of power in the Middle East. They could present a terrorist threat on a worldwide scale. It is definitely our interest to defend ourselves, but we also think it is in the interest of other countries.

Cartoons reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen

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.

Romney Little Different From Obama On Foreign Policy

— by David Streeter

Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta noted in the Los Angeles Times today that for all of his bluster and smears regarding the President’s foreign policy — including border-line “belligerent” statements — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has yet to state what exactly he would do differently from the President on a wide range of issues.

Highlights of article follow the jump.

Romney has roughed up Obama with a hawkish tone – at times bordering on belligerent. Yet for all his criticisms of the president, it has been difficult to tell exactly what Romney would do differently.

He has argued that reelecting Obama will result in Iran having a nuclear weapon – without explaining how. He has charged that Obama should have taken ‘more assertive steps’ to force out the repressive regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad – but has said he is not ‘anxious to employ military action.’ He accused Obama of tipping his hand to the Taliban by announcing a timeline for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, but also accepts the 2014 timeline.

Romney’s approach could be seen in his take on the case of Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist who in early May sought shelter at the American Embassy before leaving his country. As Americans officials negotiated over his fate, Romney suggested that the Obama administration had put Chen in danger to placate the Chinese.

He said that if reports he had heard were true, ‘this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration.’

Two weeks later, when Chen arrived in New York, Romney declared himself ‘relieved’ and said the episode ‘underscores the need for the United States to forthrightly stand up for the human rights of the Chinese people.’

At no point did he elaborate on how his approach would have differed from Obama’s.

Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, says he does not yet see ‘a huge difference’ between the foreign policy approaches of Obama and Romney.

‘A lot is made of Romney’s tough talk with respect to Russia and Iran and China, but even there it’s not like I see a dearth of toughness on the part of President Obama,’ Preble said….

Foreign policy is not Romney’s strength; 2008 GOP nominee John McCain defeated the former Massachusetts governor in primaries that year in part because of his international expertise. In Washington Post-ABC News poll last month, 53% of respondents said they trusted Obama to do a better job handling international affairs. Thirty-six percent picked Romney….

On Iran, Romney frequently faults Obama for waiting too long to put ‘crippling sanctions’ in place on the central bank and the petroleum industry, measures that the Obama administration agreed to late last year. But when asked what further steps Romney would take to crack down on Iran, campaign aides said they were keeping an eye on legislation working its way through Congress that would put sanctions on regime officials and that Romney’s main task would be to make sure the current sanctions are vigorously enforced.

In addition, Romney has said he would do more to support dissidents in Iran and make it clear that military action by the U.S. is a real option (something Romney charges Obama has failed to do, though the president has repeatedly said all options are on the table).

Separate Fact from Fiction of Obama’s Israel Record

— by Jason Attermann

Pro-Israel activist Steve Sheffey wrote an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post warning about the false smears likely to be spread by right-wingers against President Barack Obama’s strong pro-Israel record as the presidential campaign heats up.

The campaign to delegitimize President Obama in the eyes of pro-Israel voters will only intensify between now and November 6….

Opponents of territorial compromise and Americans who use concern for Israel to mask concern about paying their fair share of taxes compose most of the 20-25 percent of Jews who vote Republican. But that’s not enough to win an election; hence their efforts to distort President Obama’s record on Israel. Most Jews support the Democratic domestic agenda, so if there is no reason to oppose the president based on Israel, there is no reason to oppose him at all.

Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar 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 previous 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 is mounting a diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

More after the jump.
According to Sheffey, Obama’s detractors will attempt to delegitimize his extensive commitment to Israel’s security through the techniques of “repetition of falsehoods,” “baseless speculation,” and “guilt by association”-all of which have been engaged in before. Sheffey simplifies the situation as merely one of separating the facts of Obama’s actions from the fiction perpetuated by his opponents:

President Obama has surrounded himself with pro-Israel advisers, from Hillary Clinton to Dan Shapiro to Joe Biden to Rahm Emanuel. Yet we still hear about alleged influences from Obama’s past. Obama has been president for nearly three years. Evaluate President Obama the way the pro- Israel community has always evaluated our leaders and representatives: by looking at what they’ve done, not by trying to read their minds or via conjectures about influences that are impossible to prove or disprove.

If unprecedented military cooperation between the US and Israel, unambiguous opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and unrelenting defense of Israel in international forums is what happens when someone knows Jeremiah Wright, we ought to send all our candidates to his church. President Obama’s record proves that he is one of the best friends of Israel ever to occupy the White House. The only question is whether attempts to manipulate the emotions of pro-Israel voters by distorting the president’s record will succeed. The answer depends on our ability to separate fact from fiction.

Obama Announces Syrian Asset Freeze

— President Barack Obama

The United States has been inspired by the Syrian peoples’ pursuit of a peaceful transition to democracy. They have braved ferocious brutality at the hands of their government. They have spoken with their peaceful marches, their silent shaming of the Syrian regime, and their courageous persistence in the face of brutality – day after day, week after week. The Syrian government has responded with a sustained onslaught. I strongly condemn this brutality, including the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians in cities like Hama and Deir al Zour, and the arrests of opposition figures who have been denied justice and subjected to torture at the hands of the regime. These violations of the universal rights of the Syrian people have revealed to Syria, the region, and the world the Assad government’s flagrant disrespect for the dignity of the Syrian people.

The United States opposes the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Syria, and we support the universal rights of the Syrian people. We have imposed sanctions on President Assad and his government.  The European Union has imposed sanctions as well.  We helped lead an effort at the UN Security Council to condemn Syria’s actions. We have coordinated closely with allies and partners from the region and around the world. The Assad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the globe, and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown.

The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people.  We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way.  He has not led.  For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.

The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.

As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people.  I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria.  This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria’s petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today’s actions to be amplified by others.

More after the jump.
We recognize that it will take time for the Syrian people to achieve the justice they deserve. There will be more struggle and sacrifice. It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong. As we have learned these last several months, sometimes the way things have been is not the way that they will be. It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.