No sooner did turbulence subside within the American Jewish community over Israeli videos and billboard ads that seemed to denigrate the quality of Jewish life in the United States than a new problem erupted.
This time, however, Israel could not be blamed. The new fracas was entirely the fault of Republican presidential candidates speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Forum in Washington. One after another, they affirmed their strong support for Israel and chastised the Obama administration for its incessant criticism of the Jewish state.
Newt Gingrich was the prime culprit. He sharply criticized Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's "outrageous" recent demand that Israel "get to the damn table" and make peace with the Palestinian Authority -- as if President Mahmoud Abbas, like his predecessors, had not persistently fled from negotiations, even with the assurance of Israeli concessions.
Gingrich indicated that if elected president, he would immediately relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been ever since Israel achieved independence, to Jerusalem, which the United States still does not recognize as the capital of the Jewish state. In a follow-up interview on the Jewish Channel, he noted (correctly), to widespread outrage, that the Palestinians are an "invented" Arab people with no history of statehood in "Palestine."
Nor was Gingrich alone in strongly defending Israel and lambasting the Obama administration. Mitt Romney affirmed Israel's existence as a Jewish state and the "unshakable" American bonds with it. He sharply criticized the president for repeatedly chastising Israel, demanding indefensible borders, insulting Prime Minister Netanyahu, and ignoring incessant threats from Iran and Hamas.
They vote as the latter, natch. To quote an American relative of mine (who's no dunce, and who really should know better): If Adolf Hitler were a Democrat, I'd sooner vote him for him for president than for a Republican."
All this might be considered mere campaign boilerplate from aspiring nominees currying favor with a tiny but strategically located voting bloc. Yet American Jewish voters confront a potential dilemma of major proportions: do they vote next November for a conservative Republican nominee who promises strong support and protection for Israel? Or do they vote for the Democratic incumbent whose criticism of Israel and genuflection to Muslim sensibilities they ignore because they favor his domestic agenda? Do they, that is, vote as Jews or as liberals? ...
That about says it all, don't you think?
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