Monday, July 30, 2012

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Captures Jerusalem

By Barry Rubin

Speaking to an often-cheering group of about 400 people in Jerusalem, Governor Mitt Romney gave a speech less notable for what he said but because the audience believed he was sincere in saying it.

At a beautiful outdoor setting with the Old City in the background, Romney declared his strong support for Israel, using phrases often heard from American presidents. He also proclaimed his view that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital. The difference, of course, is that those listening were less inclined to think that when President Barack Obama said similar things to AIPAC meetings he was describing his own views and policies.

Clearly, Romney was restrained by the American principle that partisan politics stopped at the water’s edge, that no politician should criticize a president or U.S. government while abroad. Thus, Obama’s name—or even his specific policies—were never explicitly mentioned.

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What Romney did do, however, was to scatter among the assertions of U.S. support for Israel’s security and a strong belief in a U.S.-Israel alliance some subtle references that many viewers and much of the mass media are likely to miss. Here are the key ones, which give some hints over Romney’s future campaign and possibly his presidency:

--Not allergic to Israel’s center-right. Romney quoted former Prime Minister Menahem Begin twice and referred to “my friend, Bibi Netanyahu.” Obama wouldn’t have cited either man and is known to loathe Netanyahu. Romney and Netanyahu have known each other for years. The Begin quotes were significant: that Israel will never again let its independence be destroyed (a reference perhaps to Israel’s need not to be completely subservient to America’s current president) and that if people say they want to destroy you then believe them (an explicit reference to Iran’s nuclear weapons’ drive).

--“The reality of hate.” This phrase used by Romney struck me as very significant. It occurred in the context of speaking about how many Arab and Muslim forces feel about Israel. It shows that he is aware that the desire to destroy and injure Israel goes beyond pragmatic considerations or that it is something people will be talked out of trying to do. It is enormously important for an American president to understand that there are those in the Middle East who hate the United States and Israel, being impossible to appease or befriend them.

To read the entire article click here.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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