Had Mitt Romney won last week, I seriously doubt there would have been any significant differences over the next four years in terms of U.S. Mideast policy, particularly on the key issues of Iran, settlements, and Jerusalem. Romney made it clear during the campaign that he supported a two-state solution (which by definition would mean Israeli concessions on settlements and territory) and that he agreed with Obama’s approach to preventing Tehran from becoming a nuclear threat.
And my guess is that the U.S. Embassy will not be moved to Jerusalem no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office. In 1995, Congress affirmed Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and that the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem should begin. But an amendment to that bill cites a security waiver that allows a president the authority to suspend that process if he feels it is necessary to protect America’s national security interests. Every president since then has chosen to exercise that waiver.
It’s noteworthy that a bill introduced in 2011 that sought to override the president’s waiver authority garnered just a handful of sponsors. Congress understands the waiver is crucial for national security purposes. After all is said and done, foreign policy is conducted in the White House, not on the campaign trail.
That is why I find it so unbecoming when many in our community demonize our president in a manner that ultimately may undermine our effectiveness in advocating for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Don’t get me wrong. Criticizing a president is also as American as apple pie and we have a right to disagree with some (or all) of his policies. But let’s not allow the relationship between the U.S. and Israel to be muddied by personal attacks on the president.
Presidents and prime ministers come and go but the U.S.-Israel relationship is here to stay. We need to be vigilant but also to recognize that support for that relationship is solid and widespread, and not subject to partisan politics.