Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist
This has been a big week for news concerning President Obama, Israel and the Middle East in general. A lot of what happens really bothers me as a Jewish American and in particular as a Jewish American who supports President Obama. SO... let's go down the list....
1. The Republicans play the dual loyalty card.... For anyone not familiar with the "dual loyalty" card it is an old anti-Semitic meme that Jewish citizens of a given nation are more loyal to their fellow Jews or to Israel than they are to their own nation. This used to be a Right Wing meme but it has recently also been co-opted for use by the far left looking to justify their bigotry. Anyway... the latest ad that the Republicans are running in Florida and swing states with large blocs of Jewish voters is the following:
This ad is a failure on a number of levels. First, it presents a message from Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel seemingly endorsing Mitt Romney's candidacy. Now while it is true that Netanyahu has been rumored privately to be supporting Romney this ad forced him to distance himself from that position. How? Well the Prime Minister does not want to be seen as meddling in American politics as this would be something that could negatively affect American-Israeli relations should President Obama win re-election.
Netanyahu or the Israelis were never told about this ad nor did they endorse it. So Secure America Now ran this but didn't understand that the PM was going to disavow the ad. Rather than let what was going to be a silent endorsement these morons forced the Israeli leader to say the following:
"Asked by Meet The Press moderator David Gregory on Sunday if he thought "Governor Mitt Romney as President Romney make Israel safer," Netanyahu demurred.Oh well, there goes that... Hoping for a ringing endorsement they got instead a complete non-endorsement under the Headline: "Netanyahu: I'm Not Backing Romney".
I'm not going to be drawn into the American election. And what's guiding my statements is not the American political calendar, but the Iranian nuclear calendar," the Israeli leader replied. "I'm talking to [President Obama]. I just talked to him the other day. We are in close consultation. We're trying to prevent that. It's really not a partisan issue. It's a policy issue, not a partisan issue."
BUT more than that they and unfortunately their Jewish Supporters in the RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition) play to the old anti-Semitic meme of "dual loyalty" where they make the assumption that American Jews will vote for Mitt Romney simply because they think that he will bomb Iran right away (something he has said he wouldn't do) at the behest of Israel. Of course this assumes that Jewish voters (traditionally a liberal voting bloc) would simply forget about things that are important to America like healthcare, the social safety net, the state of American education, the environment, civil liberties, voting rights and other issues and simply go all in for Romney because he has the support of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
All this Jewish American (and strong Zionist) voter is can say is "F-U... RJC and Secure America Now. How do I say that.... Well first of all, F-U for thinking I care what Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says more than I care about my fellow Americans. Second, F-U for even assuming that the President who has been termed an "exceptional friend to Israel" by Israeli President Peres AND Israeli Defense Minister Barak would after years and years of support would let Israel down. Just because the President doesn't buy the Right Wing Israeli / American line on the Middle East does not mean he is not a friend to Israel.
But this assumption that I would vote solely based on this line by the Israeli and American Hard Right is disgusting. The fact that Republicans got some fellow Jews to buy into this dual loyalty is even more disgusting. It just pisses me off. My Israeli friends (and I have a number of them) can't understand why anyone would vote for the interests of another country over their own. I agree with them. How they can think that this would work is beyond me particularly when all polls show that only 15% of Jewish voters list American - Israeli relations as Prime voting factors in their voting preferences (6% for prime factor and 9% for second to the top factor).
But not to be outdone, the wingnuts set up failure #2 in trying to create an incident portraying President Obama "snubbing" or "standing up to" Benjamin Netanyahu with a meeting regarding the U.N. Of course the fact that the Netanyahu Government never asked for a Washington (an official meeting) with the President shouldn't get in their way. Nor should the fact that they were on different schedules. Forget that the President is campaigning for re-election against forces that want to take the country and destroy all of the social progress we have made over the last 170 years and he needs to speak to the American people and can through popular venues. OH NO... he should have meeting number 3214 (snark) with PM Netanyahu so they can once again issue a rejection of Iranian nuke policy.
So am I as a Jewish American voter to now say... "Well the President, who constantly talks to Prime Minister Netanyahu, needs to sit down to say exactly the same thing as he has said a hundred other times rather than talk to the people of America thru some popular venues". Seriously? The President and PM spoke on the phone for an hour. The President has constantly stood by Israeli security through both word and deed. Not only that but, he plans (according to Jay Carney's press brief today) to present a serious warning to Iran about Nukes.
The fact is that a State visit was not asked for and that President Obama IS NOT at the beck and call of the Prime Minister of Israel (who did not demand that of him in the first place) or Republican claims that Jewish voters are more concerned with Israel than anything else. He neither "stood up to" nor "snubbed" Netanyahu, he other things planned at the time.
Again Republicans and their RJC lunatics buy into the fact that Jewish voters are more concerned with Israel than they are with their own country. And with these arguments they fail on two levels. The first and foremost is that they promote the racist meme that Jews are somehow more loyal to Israel than America. The second is that they assume in the first place that the hard line Rightist plans for Israel are the only way to even be Pro-Israel.
While this pisses me off to a great degree, I am heartened by the fact that as of the latest polls 70% of American Jewish voters are supporting President Obama. I have confidence that as the rolling train wreck better known as the Romney campaign rolls on AND as this campaign continues to alienate everyone with it's destructive kowtow to the Hard Right and their Randian fantasy of a "free for all" society, that this number will grow.
My advice to the Republicans and their lunatic fringe supporters... Try assuming that we as American - Jewish Voters vote American values first. Voting to deny American women fair pay, voting to deny children quality education, voting to deny Gays and Lesbians equal rights, voting strip the EPA of any power, voting to deny millions of Seniors a safety net for their old age, and voting to deny Americans health care are all against the interests of America. You want our vote. Assume we pay attention to making our country better.