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September 22, 2011

President Obama: Ensuring Israel’s Security

Listed in: Israel, Fact Sheets, NJDC News

President Barack Obama has proven his dedication to the U.S.-Israel relationship since his very first days in office. Repeatedly over the past few months, President Obama and his Administration have worked tirelessly to help ensure Israel’s security for the future. Below is a collection of facts and quotes from top Israeli and American officials regarding President Obama’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, including information about the unprecedented levels of military support and security cooperation from the Obama Administration.

The fact sheet can be viewed as a pdf here.

Click here for some quotes and statements by officials and organizations praising President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.

A fact sheet highlighting Obama’s efforts to protect Israel’s diplomats in Egypt on September 9 can be viewed here

More information about President Obama’s actions to support and secure Israel during his first two years in office can be found here.


Confirming the Unbreakable Bond between the U.S. and Israel

President Obama delivered an unequivocal declaration of support for Israel during his address to the United Nations General Assembly:

America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring.  And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it…. Those are facts. They cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth…. [The White House, September 21, 2011]

Following President Obama’s speech, Israeli leaders were quick to publicly laud his words:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

I think that standing your ground, taking this position of principle… I think this is a badge of honor and I want to thank you for wearing that badge of honor. [New York Daily News, September 22, 2011]

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman:

I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands. [JTA, September 22, 2011]

After Israel’s Embassy in Cairo was attacked, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed gratitude and thanks to President Obama for personally pressing the Egyptian government to safeguard the embassy:

I would like to express my gratitude to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I asked for his help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, ‘I will do everything I can.’ And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence of the United   States to help us. We owe him a special measure of gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the United States. This alliance between Israel and the United States is especially important in these times of political storms and upheavals in the Middle East. [September 10, 2011]

During the American Independence Day celebrations at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Tel Aviv, Israel’s top leaders profusely thanked President Obama and his Administration in detail:

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

[The United States has] provided invaluable diplomatic, moral and military support. Diplomatic support, in our quest for a negotiated peace, which is the only way to achieve it. A peace grounded in security but grounded also in mutual comprises that can only be achieved in face to face negations. America is very, very clear on this point. And I think President Obama has spoken eloquently about this. Military support, we just had a successful deployment of the Iron Dome system. And we’ve intercepted seven missiles that were fired over the skies of Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon and this was made possible by generous American military support. Funding that was approved by the Obama Administration. [June 30, 2011]

President Shimon Peres:

Thank you America for what you are—for what you are for us. We thank you for standing up for what is right and just and fair. Thank you for defending freedom, safeguarding liberty, searching for peace, protecting democracy, advancing our shared values. Thank you America for being our friend and our ally. And thank you President Barack Obama, for your leadership, for your deep and moving ongoing and unwavering commitment to the peace and security of our land. [June 30, 2011]

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren:

Our countries are good friends. And I’m the minister of defense, I can tell you… I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and backing and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now. [August 3, 2011]

In accepting the credentials of Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Peres made clear, and left no doubt, that President Obama has spoken and acted with Israel’s security as a top priority:

... I want to take advantage of this opportunity to express my appreciation to President Obama and say in a clear voice—President Obama is a friend of the Jewish people and the state of Israel and there is no doubt in this matter. ...President Obama represents the tradition of deep friendship between Israel and the United States, not only in words but in actions and he has emphasized that Israel’s security is a top priority of the American government—and he has acted thusly. [August 3, 2011]

President Obama emphasized that Israel’s security is sacrosanct during an event with American Jewish leaders:

One inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends—that that bond isn’t breakable and that Israel’s security will always be at the top tier of considerations in terms of how America manages its foreign policy—because it’s the right thing to do, because Israel is our closest ally and friend, it is a robust democracy, it shares our values and it shares our principles. [June 20, 2011]

At a public rally in south Florida in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon praised Obama’s strong relationships with Israeli leaders.


Expanding Military to Military Cooperation

Increasing Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)

President Obama restored Israel’s diminished QME immediately after he took office. Throughout his presidency, President Obama has consistently affirmed that maintaining and strengthening Israel’s QME is a top priority for the United States. [June 20, 2011]

President Obama’s Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committed to expanding Israel’s QME further during their meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Barak. [July 28, 2011]

During a trip to Israel, Panetta stressed his dedication “to reaffirm our strong security relationship [with Israel]” and to “make clear that we will protect their qualitative military edge, and that ... as they take risks for peace that we will be able to provide the security they will need” to work on a peace agreement with the Palestinians. [Department of Defense, October 2, 2011]

Former Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham detailed the Obama Administration’s commitment to “support Israel in its needs” and “ensure Israel has both the technology and equipment it needs to provide for itself.” [July 8, 2011]

Unprecedented Sale of Bunker-Busting Bombs

According to Newsweek, President Obama authorized the sale on deep-penetrating bombs to Israel shortly after taking office. The bombs are an effective option for Israel against the threat of an Iranian attack. This arms sale was repeatedly denied by President George W. Bush’s administration. [Newsweek, September 25, 2011]

The U.S.-Funded Iron Dome Continues to Save Israeli Lives

The Iron Dome missile defense system, for which President Obama led the funding effort, has already paid dividends by saving Israeli lives from rocket attacks launched by Hamas. Israel is expecting to deploy more Iron Dome batteries along its borders in the near future. Prime Minister Netanyahu has thanked President Obama for his leadership on the Iron Dome on multiple occasions.

In light of terrorist attacks and a rise in rocket launches against Israel in August, Barak and other senior Israeli officials praised the “exceptional”  effectiveness of the system at stopping Hamas’ rockets fired from Gaza and saving Israeli lives. [August 24, 2011] The Iron Dome will help ensure that Israel’s defense forces “will be ready not to allow terrorists to disrupt people’s routines in Tel Aviv and other cities.” [August 30, 2011]

Representative Steven Rothman (D-NJ), a member of the Appropriations Committee that secured the funding, said that the system “serves as an essential part of Israel’s multilayered umbrella of anti-rocket and anti-missile defenses, and over the past week this system has shown just how capable it is.” [August 30, 2011]

Participation in 2012’s Operation “Juniper Cobra”

President Obama’s Administration committed to Operation “Juniper Cobra”—a major joint military exercise to strengthen the coordination between the U.S. and Israel’s missile defense systems. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose described the exercise planned for 2012 as one of the “most complex and extensive” exercises yet.

Solidifying Regional Missile Defense Cooperation

The Pentagon is working closely with the Israeli military to build a national missile defense command capable of defending against both long- and short-range missiles and rockets. [June 21, 2011]

Pro-Israel Continuity between Defense Secretaries: From Robert Gates to Leon Panetta

Secretary Gates met many times with his Israeli counterparts and understood their national security concerns.

On Obama, Secretary Gates said: “President Obama is the eighth American president I’ve worked for. And I don’t believe that the security relationship between the United States and Israel has ever been stronger than it is right now.” [March 24, 2011]

As CIA Director, Secretary Panetta has built a close relationship with the Israeli intelligence team and proven that he recognizes the gravity of the Iranian threat. He is widely regarded as an ally by pro-Israel leaders from across the political spectrum.

Pro-Israel Continuity between Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: From Admiral Michael Mullen to General Martin Dempsey

Admiral Mullen was well-respected by the Israeli military for “strengthening the steadfast relationship between the IDF and US military.” [July 18, 2011]

General Dempsey has extensively studied Israeli military tactics and throughout his career has strengthened communications between our two militaries.

New U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro Has Obama’s Ear

Secretary Clinton: “By sending one of his closest advisors to be our new ambassador, President Obama is once again demonstrating not only our national commitment, but his personal commitment to the strength of this relationship to Israel’s future, its security, and its success.” [July 8, 2011]

The spectrum of American Jewish leaders welcomed and celebrated Ambassador Shapiro’s appointment.

Working Against Unilateral Palestinian Attempts to Seek Statehood

The Obama Administration has consistently and vocally opposed the Palestinians’ plans to unilaterally declare a state through the UN.


President Obama said:

No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state. And 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. That is my commitment; that is my pledge to all of you. [May 22, 2011]

During his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Obama said:

I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations—if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians—not us—who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security, on refugees and Jerusalem. [The White House, September 21, 2011]

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman testified that the Obama Administration would veto a resolution supporting a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, should one reach the United Nations Security Council. [September 8, 2011]

U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said to the United Nations Security Council:

Let there be no doubt: symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September will not create an independent Palestinian state. The United States will not support unilateral campaigns at the United Nations in September or any other time. [July 26, 2011]

Ambassador DiCarlo also demanded that Hamas renounce terror and recognize Israel:

[A]s President Obama has made clear, Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity for their people if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. Palestinian leaders must also take further steps to combat incitement to violence. [July 26, 2011]

When the Arab League announced their endorsement of the Palestinians’ plans, the State Department quickly dismissed the move. [July 14, 2011]

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren thanked President Obama for his consistent support for Israel on this crucial issue:

Israel appreciates U.S. President Barack Obama’s opposition to unilaterally declared Palestinian statehood and negotiations with Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, uphold previous peace agreements, and disavow terrorism. Similarly, we support the president’s call for the nonmilitarization of any future Palestinian state that must be capable of assuming ‘security responsibility.’ In his recent address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed the president’s statement that the negotiated border will be ‘different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.’ [June 6, 2011]

Ambassador Oren told Foreign Policy that the Obama Administration and Israel “see very much eye to eye” and that they are cooperating in a “daily and intensive manner” towards “similar goals” regarding this issue. [August 30, 2011] 


Advocating for the Release of Captured Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit

The Obama Administration released a statement on June 24th calling on Hamas to release captured Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Ambassador DiCarlo also firmly noted while addressing the UNSC:

... Hamas must immediately and unconditionally release Gilad Shalit, who has now suffered in captivity for more than five years. [July 26, 2011]

Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice met with Noam Shalit—the father of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit—and expressed America’s solidarity with the Shalit family as Gilad’s captivity reached 1,900 days. Ambassador Rice said following the meeting:

I was honored to meet with Noam Shalit today, 1,900 days after his son, Gilad, was taken captive. During this period, Hamas has held Gilad hostage and without access by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in violation of international humanitarian standards and basic decency. I expressed to Mr. Shalit the solidarity of the United States with him and his family, and I reiterated our strongest condemnation of his son’s detention. As I have said repeatedly in the UN Security Council, Hamas must immediately and unconditionally release Gilad Shalit. [September 7, 2011]


Standing Firm against the Gaza Flotilla

The State Department released a statement calling the flotilla “irresponsible and provocative.” [June 24, 2011]

Last year, President Obama was praised by Israeli and pro-Israel leaders for his actions during the flotilla incident. His consistent stance should surprise no one.

Defending Israel on the International Stage

State Department spokesman Mark Toner held the Syrian government accountable for inciting border violence against Israel and appropriately affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. [June 6, 2011]

Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer explained that the U.S. has repeatedly urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to end its attacks on Israel and focus instead on Libya, Iran, Syria, and Yemen.

The State Department has taken issue with the rampant anti-Semitism found in many textbooks across the Middle East.

The State Department’s Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal recently toured the region and, according to JTA, specifically “confronted Saudi officials with examples of anti-Semitic statements in the kingdom’s texts used as far afield in Saudi-funded schools in Pakistan and Argentina.”


Prominent Figures Have Voiced Their Strong Support for President Obama:

Independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports President Obama when it comes to Israel. Describing himself as strongly connected to Israel, Bloomberg said, “I think there’s nothing the president’s done or said that gives me pause to think he doesn’t understand and feel the same way.” [The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2011]

Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ) heralded the incredible intelligence and defense cooperation:

The military and intelligence agencies of the enemies of our nations are fully aware of what the U.S.-Israeli military alliance means. Our enemies know they cannot prevail against the combined might of the world’s sole military superpower and the Middle East’s greatest military power….

[W]here issues speaking to Israel’s existence hang in the balance, the Obama administration has given-and continues to provide-unprecedented support for the defense and security of Israel. [July 22, 2011]

Former Representative and current President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace Robert Wexler (D-FL) took aim at Obama’s critics by listing the extensive evidence of Obama’s pro-Israel actions. Wexler said, “It is incumbent upon all supporters of the US-Israel relationship to cut through the propaganda and judge the president based on the facts.” [The Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2011]

With his solid understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian situation as President of the Middle East-focused think tank, Wexler said, “I am convinced that the policies that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have championed are the best way forward for the United States and Israel.” [Slate, October 5, 2011]

Former Florida Representative Ron Klein praised President Obama’s support for Israel in an op-ed on June 29th.  He also condemned any use of Israel as a “political pawn,” as “was done during the Bush administration.”

Former Representative Mel Levine (D-CA) rebuked the false rumors against President Obama and criticized prominent Republicans for politicizing the US-Israel relationship.

Former Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations President Alan Solow negated rumors that President Obama has in any way swayed in his dedication to Israel’s security:

[O]verall I am completely supportive of President Obama’s approach to break the logjam in which we find ourselves. He has worked hard to mobilize support for Israel, has led the movement to impose strong international sanctions against Iran and has continuously supported, in word and deed, Israel’s rights as a Jewish state. There have been no policies actually implemented by the Administration, as opposed to those which have been rumored, that have been anything other than supportive of Israel. [July 22, 2011]

Rabbi Jack Moline, national board member of the Rabbinical Assembly and former President of the Washington Board of Rabbis, put to rest any questions of the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu:

If you listen to those voices concerned with Israel’s security, including Israel’s defense minister and Ambassador Michael Oren, things have never been stronger or more dependable than now…There may be some disputes on questions about who is doing the right thing in terms of resolving issues between Israel and her neighbors, but in terms of the essential aspects of Israel and security, there is no distance between Obama and Netanyahu….The two leaders’ relationship is close and strong.