But Israel did not call him on it.
In June 2002, less than a year after September 11th, George Bush gave his “Road Map” speech in which he concretized US policy in pursuit of an Arab state in the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria with the words:
A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for. So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state. As we make progress towards security, Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.
But Bush II was embraced, and is remembered, as a “friend of Israel.” Why?
The tone and style of Bush and Clinton before him (remember the Oslo Accords, Arafat on the White House lawn) was full of superficial love for Israel. They gave off gushy “Shalom Chaver” feelings while supporting Israel’s haters in their actions. The same certainly goes for Carter, who for that matter, was seen as a peacemaker in his day but in the end showed his fangs. All these Presidents had the ability to exhibit warmth to Israel while driving policies that hurt Israel’s national security.
In my last article, “Obama Good, Romney Bad for Israel” I wrote that as an Israeli, I prefer Obama to Romney because the transparency of the Obama agenda. Israel’s weakness to an American President’s perceived love is what leads the Jewish State to make dangerous concessions. Yet when a US leader, like Obama, is distant from Israel, even has animosity to it, this allows Israel to finally reject the long-standing bad policies that continued for decades under pressure from “friends of Israel.”
But let me be clear, I am not endorsing a candidate for US president. In fact, as an Israeli, I do not think I should vote in the US, though I may have the right to. My country is Israel, and it is with Israel that my allegiance lies, and this is the country that I want to build. I do not wish any harm to the US, in fact, I wish it blessings and I owe it a huge debt of gratitude. It is precisely because I respect America, that I do not vote in its elections. Since I am not involved in US issues, and do not live there, I would only be voting on what is best for Israel, and that just seems disingenuous.
I wish more American Jews would feel, like I do, that the place to vote for a Jew is in the Jewish State. We, the Jewish people, are building a county in the Middle East and we must be prepared to deal with the local threats with or without American support. Whether it is Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas or Fatah, Israel needs to act in its best interests before these threats materialize. What is best for Israel is not what is desired by Obama nor Romney as they have other interests in mind. What is best for Israel is independent policy-decision making.
Therefore, as an Israeli I am not afraid of an Obama second term. A certain amount of disengagement from bad State Department policy is a good for Israel, and in the long run, Israel and the US will be able to rebuild a relationship on a healthier, more equal basis. On the other hand, if Romney wins, Jews must be careful not to fall into the old habit of accepting bad US policy just because a president appears to have a heart for Israel. Instead, we should follow the money trail, and look hard into the policies to see if that presidential smile is genuine. Given the US’ record on Iran, and their fiscal interests there, Americans should not be fooled into believing that this or that US President will do everything in his power to protect Israel.
Instead of falling for the illusion of elections, Americans who love Israel would do well to focus on policies and take clear messages to both Romney and Obama camps: (1) move the US Embassy to Jerusalem in fulfillment of the 1995 law passed by Congress; (2) cut US financial support to the Palestinian Authority; (3) end US support for the shrinking of Israel through the advent of a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland; (4) free Jonathan Pollard; (5) fight anti-semitism on U.S. campuses.
About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is the Contributing Editor and PR manager at the JewishPress.com, and Israel's only English language broadcast radio show host (Galey Yisrael 106.5FM). Yishai is an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, they have two children, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
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