Robert Wexler
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion)
September 22, 2011 - 12:00am

It is ironic that Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, as well as numerous other Republican groups and individuals, have chosen this month to escalate their smear campaign against President Obama’s pro- Israel record. While President Obama has consistently acted to protect Israel’s safety and interests over his entire time in office, the events of this month in particular – both in the US and in the Middle East – serve as a sharp rebuttal to these partisan efforts to spread misrepresentations and falsities.

While the president’s detractors spent the past two weeks falsely claiming he has called to divide Jerusalem, that he demanded Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, or that he snubbed Prime Minister Netanyahu during Netanyahu’s first visit to the White House (a myth vociferously debunked by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren), the president was busy helping to save the lives of six Israelis trapped inside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

“The President of the United States, Barack Obama... used all of the considerable means and influence of the United States to help us,” Netanyahu said earlier this week. “We owe him a special measure of gratitude.”

Former Mossad director Efraim Halevy described the president’s bold actions on Israel’s behalf as “leadership of historic dimensions. It was he who took the ultimate decision that night which prevented what could have been a sad outcome – instead of six men coming home, the arrival in Israel of six body bags.”

Does this sound like a president who is “not pro-Israel,” as claimed by recent billboards placed in Manhattan last week by an organization run by Republican operatives?

This week, the Palestinian Authority is preparing to submit a resolution to the United Nations asking it to unilaterally recognize a state of Palestine. For months, the president has been publicly condemning this move in no uncertain terms, saying at his May speech at the State Department, “Efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure [and] symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.” He has explicitly threatened to veto the Palestinian resolution if it is brought to the Security Council.

But the Obama administration has not stopped at impressive rhetoric – they have followed up their statements with relentless efforts at the highest levels to block the resolution. The administration has directly expressed to the Palestinians its strong opposition to their campaign and stressed grave consequences if they proceed. It has also communicated to over 150 capitals around the world the urgency to vote against or abstain from a vote if there should be one. Oren, the Israeli ambassador, reports that the US and Israel have been coordinating in a “daily and intensive manner” and “very much see eye to eye” about the gravity of the threat. President Obama has personally been directing these efforts.

This is just the latest in a long line of efforts by the administration to defend Israel in the international community – despite fallacious claims this week that the president “attacks Israel at the UN.” The Obama administration has voted against every anti-Israel resolution at the UN and vetoed the one anti-Israel resolution at the Security Council under his watch. President Obama has personally condemned these efforts, saying, “The United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.” And while uninformed critics have condemned the US’s presence on the UN’s Human Rights Council, sources in the State Department confirm that Israeli leaders are actually supportive of US efforts to reform and influence the chronically anti-Israel group from the inside – such as voting against four anti-Israel resolutions on the council (and often bring the only one to do so). The Obama administration condemned the UN’s Goldstone Report on the Gaza conflict as “unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable,” and lobbied heavily against the report advancing beyond the Human Rights Council.

The Obama administration also supported Israel after the Gaza flotilla incident, working behind the scenes to have a more balanced statement by the UN Security Council. The administration boycotted the 2009 United Nations conference on racism (Durban II) due to concerns of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment, leading more than a half-dozen other countries in boycotting the conference as well, and will be leading a boycott this month of the 10- year commemoration of the conference. President Obama declared that any attempts to single out Israel at a planned Middle East regional conference last year on weapons of mass destruction would make the event’s convening unlikely, and fought against efforts to ostracize Israel at the 2010 International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference.

This support in the international community is coupled with unprecedented military and security cooperation with Israel under President Obama. The administration sent Israel the largest-ever security-assistance funding in 2010 ($2.775 billion) and raised that to $3 billion for 2011 – spending over 50 percent of the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Finance Program’s budget on Israel – and has provided about $200 million annually to US-Israel joint missile defense programs. The Obama administration has also granted Israeli forces access to advanced US military hardware (such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter), emergency stockpiles and free or discounted equipment. Under President Obama, US forces conducted the largestever US-Israel military exercise, Juniper Cobra – sending a clear message to Israel’s enemies about President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security. As said last month by Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak, “I was in uniform for decades – I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”

It is unfortunate that a small number of voters in New York’s special election last week chose to believe the spin about President Obama by those who aim to distort his record on Israel for short-sighted political gain. Friends of Israel should trust the words of Israel’s leaders, who have proudly praised Obama’s efforts on behalf of the Jewish state – such as Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who said earlier this month, “We have not had a better friend than President Obama. ...Cooperation has never been better upon issues which are of the most sensitive and most [important] to our collective security and well-being.”

It is incumbent upon all supporters of the US-Israel relationship to cut through the propaganda and judge the president based on the facts.


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