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December 13, 2012

Bus? What Bus?

Listed in: Israel, NJDC News, Opinions

Originally Published in the Baltimore Jewish Times

By NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris

Over the course of the presidential campaign, we heard many scurrilous claims - if not outright lies - from certain Mitt Romney supporters. After four years of President Barack Obama’s pro-Israel presidency, one of the most persistent claims was that the president would “throw Israel under the bus.” The overwhelming majority of Jews didn’t buy it. Last month, the American people saw this bogus claim shattered by the president’s pro-Israel leadership.

Shortly after Election Day, the president and members of his administration supported Israel’s right to defend itself through Operation Pillar of Defense. Indeed, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres multiple times throughout the conflict in order to convey their support. The president and members of his administration personally condemned Hamas’ rockets and placed the blame for the escalation squarely at Hamas’ feet.

But even before Pillar of Defense began, President Obama and his administration were outspoken champions of the revolutionary Iron Dome missile defense system - which the Bush Administration greeted with skepticism and a “frosty” reception, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Iron Dome demonstrated its critical value against Hamas’ rockets, as it prevented countless Israeli casualties prior to Pillar of Defense. But an essential test occurred against a heavy barrage of rockets during the operation, and the Iron Dome passed with flying colors.

Israeli officials lined up after the conflict to thank President Obama for his support of Israel’s actions and for the Iron Dome. However, the president’s support for Israel went far beyond the war.

The president and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice have been Israel’s best allies in the United Nations throughout the past four years. Under their leadership, the United States amassed an unprecedented 100 percent pro-Israel voting record in the U.N., passed the most significant Iran sanctions ever and made significant progress combating what Ambassador Rice dubbed the “anti-Israel crap.” So it should have surprised nobody that the United States voted against the Palestinians’ upgrade to non-member observer status. Even though the vote’s result was apparent well before the General Assembly convened that day, America’s delegation made an impassioned case against the upgrade and reiterated that shenanigans through the Israel-obsessed U.N. are no substitute for direct negotiations.

President Obama led and acted the way any pro-Israel president would, and he deserves our community’s thanks, and thankfully, some of the president’s critics have done so.

However, many have not. Their silence should concern those who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship. Start by giving credit where credit is due - and by throwing the Obama smears “under the bus.”