Shame on Senator Frank R. Lautenberg!
New Jersey's senior U.S. senator, Frank R. Lautenberg, published an article ("Romney must stop playing politics with Israel") in the August 15, 2012 edition of The Jerusalem Post for which he should be thoroughly ashamed. It is a political smear, loaded with distortions and outright lies. It is a desperate attempt to stop the erosion of Jewish votes for the re-election of President Barack H. Obama that several polls over the past few weeks have indicated is occurring. Lautenberg's article is truly an ugly case of the pot calling the kettle black, and it's beneath the dignity of his office for him to author such a screed.
Lautenberg claims that the Romney campaign is using Israel as a partisan issue in the presidential campaign by suggesting that the Obama administration has allowed daylight to appear in the U.S.-Israel relationship, which Lautenberg denies is the case. However, numerous sources (see here, here, and here) seem to have better vision than the good octogenarian senator. In the Palestine arena alone, the "daylight" on "settlements" became so great that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had to become intransigent about negotiating with Israel without a settlement "freeze" just to match the stance of President Obama, whose policies have effectively destroyed any chance for meaningful negotiations in this generation.
As regards dealing with the threat of Iranian nuclear proliferation, the Israeli and Obama administration timetables are so different that one could drive a bus through the portal between the them. Israel sees the window of opportunity to strike Iranian nuclear sites closing by the end of the year, a position shared by a number of knowledgeable Republican officials (also see here and here), while the White House believes that it has at least another year.
Lautenberg isn't being completely honest about the administration's security policies regarding Israel. It is true that U.S. aid to Israel in the security arena has reached new heights, but these programs were initiated by the Bush administration; Obama is simply continuing the policy. However, in one area of security policy, the Obama administration has thrown Israel under the bus, and in another it has utterly failed to protect both Israeli and American interests. As regards throwing Israel under the bus, I refer to the Obama administration's blocking Israel's participation when organizing the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF) conference held in Istanbul in early June of this year -- not to mention Obama making Turkey the co-chair and host for its first meeting and agreeing with Prime Minister Erdoğan's demand to veto Israel's participation in the forum.
The current administration's utter failure to protect Israeli and American security is daily made manifest in the fiasco of Obama's and his advisers' inability to recognize that the so-called "Arab Spring" has been turned into a Sunni Islamist takeover. Where is there any modicum of freedom in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, or Syria? In Egypt, the removal of longtime American ally President Hosni Mubarak in the vain hope that Egypt would become a Western-style democracy was naïve in the extreme. No seasoned veteran of Middle Eastern politics in general and Egyptian politics in particular could fail to expect the Muslin Brotherhood to come out on top in any popular election. And yet the administration missed that, just like the Carter administration failed to recognize that Ayatollah Khomeini was virulently anti-Western and would be expected to create an anti-American Islamic theocratic Iranian state in place of the pro-Western policies of Shah Reza Pahlavi.
Sixteen months ago, some predicted the current Islamist takeovers, but despite all of its resources, the administration was blind to the obvious results to come. And for the record, this week, Egypt violated the Sinai Peace Treaty with Israel by moving troops into the Sinai without prior Israeli permission...and nary a word of concern from Washington.
And then there is Lautenberg's outright distortion of Governor Romney's statement about doing the opposite of Obama's Israel policies. Romney specified that he would not want to show any daylight between the U.S. and Israel when discussing policy in public, something the Obama administration did quite vocally for its first three years. Romney indicated his support for Israel's right to defend itself from Iranian nuclear aggression -- an area where the Obama administration talks the talk but doesn't really walk the walk (e.g., by leaking intelligence that hurts Israel's efforts against Iran). Romney's visit to Jerusalem witnessed his declaration that he was happy to be in Israel's capital city, an identification that the White House continues to deny, following a 65-year-old flawed State Department policy on the holy city.
In short, the senior senator from New Jersey seems to have his facts turned around 180 degrees; it's the Obama administration that has been putting Israel's (and America's) security at risk by faulty policies, poor intelligence, and the politicizing of security operations that should remain out of the public eye. Senator, do your homework in gathering the facts, or else it's time to retire. But whatever you do, don't make a fool out of yourself by telling lies and distorting the truth. That's a shandah!
PS: It seems that Israelis -- known for their straightforward, in-your-face attitude toward life -- prefer Romney to Obama by a two-to-one margin according to a recent poll. Maybe that explains why the good senator was so quick to criticize the Romney campaign.
Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker is founder and chairman of the board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching the public and its elected officials of the need to promote genuine democratic institutions throughout the Middle-East region as an antidote to the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism. He may be contacted at contact@ADME.ws.