One nation with a particular interest in the outcome of next week’s Presidential election is the State of Israel.
In a fascinating “point-counterpoint” style article published online, two serious Israeli journalists recently debated the question whether one Presidential candidate as opposed to the other would be the better choice for Israel with respect to the Iranian crisis.
The published exchange is a refreshing break from the hysterical, highly-partisan rhetoric which is part and parcel of the final days of any political campaign.
Stating the case for Governor Mitt Romney, Yossi Klein Halevi is “deeply skeptical” of President Obama’s willingness to use military force if all other measures to stop Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon fail.
The President’s failure, he argues, to support the aborted Iranian revolution of 2009; his failure to “set limits” to the Muslim brotherhood and his production of a video apologizing for the anti-Muslim Youtube clip all suggest a “pattern of weakness against enemies, of appeasing extremists [and] of missing opportunities.” And he also believes that the economic sanctions are not going to stop Iran from reaching its goal of acquiring nuclear weapon capability.
Stating the case for the President, Jeff Goldberg contends that Obama has a “core belief” that nuclear proliferation must be stopped, especially in the Middle East. He also believes that Obama would be motivated, from a legacy perspective, to avoid at all costs going down in history as the President that allowed Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons.
He also claims that Obama has, in some respects, been even more hawkish than his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, especially with regard to the use of drone weaponry, and that it is precisely Obama’s perception as a more dovish left-wing President that gives him the cover to avoid left-wing outrage over such actions.
Back here at home, the question for American Jewish voters is this – just how important is the security of the State of Israel relative to other concerns?
All signs indicate that support for the President remains strong among Jewish voters. A September poll taken of Jewish voters in Florida, for example, indicated that President Obama held a commanding 69-25 lead over Governor Romney.
On the other hand, the poll was taken before the debates, and the support - impressive as it is - appears to be lower than the level of support the President enjoyed in 2008, when – according to some exit polls – Obama got 76% of the Jewish vote. If Governor Romney can land 35% or more the Florida Jewish vote, it might prove the difference in a tight race. Let us not forget that in 2000, the entire election came down to Florida.
If you are someone with a great interest in the future of the State of Israel, and are going to vote – yay or nay - for any particular candidate based on his or her position with regard to that nation’s security, I recommend the article highly.