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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Romney v. Obama on Israel

Would it be fair to say that Barack Hussein Obama admires Israel's socialist past (if anything about this country), while Mitt Romney admires our high tech future? Here's Bret Stephens (for those without Wall Street Journal access, the full article is here).
The president only seems to get right with Israel when he senses he’s in political trouble, or when his fundraising efforts lag, or when there’s a big Aipac speech to deliver. Last week, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, couldn’t bring himself to name Israel’s capital when asked at a briefing. Why?

You hear a lot of theories trying to explain this, often centered on Mr. Obama’s past friendships with the likes of Prof. Rashid Khalidi, Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Rabbi Arnold Wolf, the late firebrand of the Jewish far left. I have a simpler theory: The president’s views are of a piece with the broader left-right debate on the nature of success.

When detractors think about Israel, they tend to think its successes are largely ill-gotten: Somebody else’s land, somebody else’s money, somebody else’s rights. It’s the view that Israel gets an unfair share of foreign aid from the U.S., and that it takes an unfair share of territory from the Palestinians. It’s also the view that, as the presumptive stronger party in its dealings with the Palestinians, Israel bears the onus of making concessions and taking the proverbial risks for peace. As the supposed underdogs, Palestinians are not burdened by any reciprocal moral obligations.

By contrast, when admirers of Israel visit the country, they typically marvel at everything it has planted, built, invented, re-imagined, restored, saved. Israel’s friends think that the country has earned its success the hard way, and that it deserves to reap the rewards. Hence Mitt Romney on Sunday: “You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism. . . . What you have built here, with your own hands, is a tribute to your people.”

Animating one side of this divide is a sense of admiration. Animating the other is a sense of envy. Could Mr. Obama have uttered lines like Mitt Romney’s? Maybe. But you get the feeling that scrolling in the back of his mind would be the words, “You didn’t build that.”

Does this mean that Mr. Obama is “anti-Israel” in the most invidious sense? Mr. Obama seems sincere when he speaks of his admiration for Israeli kibbutzim, or his outrage at Holocaust denial, or his solidarity with Israeli victims of terrorism. And he seems more than sincere in his desire to return Israel to something approximating its 1967 borders.

But all this amounts to a form of nostalgia for the Israel that once was—the plucky underdog, the proud member of the Socialist International. And Israel isn’t going back there any more.
Read the whole thing. I think Stephens has Romney right, but I think he has Obama wrong. Obama appears to believe that Israel - in any borders - is a neo-colonizer that doesn't deserve to exist within any borders. I just don't believe he thinks he can say that and still be elected President. There's too much lip service to the 'two-state solution among Americans for Obama to be able to come out and oppose Israel's existence altogether. But he'd love to see the 'Western implant' disappear, God forbid.

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