Having learned that former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been friends since the 70s, I have had to give up on my fantasy of Netanyahu calling Romney a suck-up in public. (Maybe he will in private.) Instead, I’ll call Romney a suck-up in public. I would do the same for President Obama, but he’s been too waffly for that.
Romney is currently on the Israel leg of his world tour, which thus far has included a stop at the Western Wall, meeting with a number of high-level Israeli officials – and even Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, which is impressive, but probably wouldn’t have happened if Fayyad weren’t pro-Western – and headlining a major fundraiser for American Jewish supporters in Jerusalem, which, as he reminded everyone, is the capital of Israel. (Uh, yeah.) He hasn’t been too critical of Obama while there, though; that he reserved for a fundraiser in Reno before he left.
The above article made a medium-sized deal of the fact that said fundraiser will be closed to Romney’s traveling press corps, and his campaign wouldn’t say why. My guess, and probably your guess by now, is that he will criticize Obama there and doesn’t want anyone in the U.S. to know about it. Not that he was worried about that when he accused Obama of “lecturing” Israel and treating it in a “shabby” way in Reno.
That’s the difference between Jews here and Jews there: Since we don’t live with this every day, we don’t know where he’s getting this stuff. Obama just signed a bill that would help fund a short-range missile shield for Israel, to protect against rocket fire from Gaza. It’s a smart expenditure, much more specific than anything from Romney. He has offered little but platitudes about Israel’s right to defend itself.
I would ask him if “defending itself” includes its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, a grossly disproportional response to attacks from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) when it was based in Beirut. If Israel went beyond destroying Iranian nuclear capabilities to carpet-bombing Tehran, would Romney sit passively by and mumble things about national defense? Or would he tell them to tone it down on pain of losing aid? The worst Obama has done vis-à-vis Israel is that ignorant endorsement of the 1967 borders. If that means he has the guts to tell Israel when its foreign policy is counterproductive, more power to him.
It’s one thing to maintain a defensive alliance with Israel; it’s another to give them carte blanche for invasions. Romney ought to think about which is better in the long run, for them and for him.