During the runup to the presidential election of 2012 (Obama vs Romney) there was this opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post of September 20, 2012.
The following is a discussion about this article and about our relationship with Israel
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2012 8:40 AM
Subject: RE: A Completely Different Perspective
Our relationship with Israel is not healthy. For me, this election isn’t so much about the issues: the parties are more alike in their agendas than different. In some ways, Obama has done OK with the plate he inherited.
For me, this election is about leadership. The leader of the free world and President of the US must, above all else, be a strong and effective leader. There are very serious issues to deal with, such as health care, economy, Iran, immigration. Congress must deal with these issues, and they either will or won’t deal with them effectively, depending on the strong leadership of the president.
I am not all that confident in Romney’s ability to build consensus, rebuild accord and lead a fractured legislature so they do the job we elected them to do. But I am sure, listening to the dismal failure of both parties to “reach across the aisle” and compromise on vital issues, that that Obama has not demonstrated adequate leadership. He has good points, but personal leadership is not an Obama strength. So as Eastwood said, time for him to go.
Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2012 12:41 PM
Subject: Re: A Completely Different Perspective
The problem for the last many years is that Israel’s relationship with Israel isn’t healthy! They have 2 or 3 major parties and lots of very small, radicalized parties, some of which are ultra-conservative, ultra-Orthodox. And those ultra-Orthodox parties always seem to win 3 or 4 seats in the election. Because none of the big parties can win a majority, they have to convince some of the smaller parties to join their group, so as to create a majority and then have the right to elect a prime minister.
In order to convince some of these small, radical parties to join their coalitions, the big parties have to reward them lots of goodies and make big promises to them. So these small parties wind up wielding enormous influence, even though they’ve only won 3 or 4 seats in the Knesset.
So you have these ultra-Orthodox settlers who believe in the ancient land of Canaan as the rightful land of Israel, and Hassidics that don’t want girls to be educated and have to be escorted in public by a male member of their family (I said Hassidic Jews, NOT Taliban!). And so you have these radicals holding the government – whether it’s a ruling coalition run by the Likud Party (Netanyahu at the moment), the Labor Party (formerly the party of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak) and the new Kadima Party (which is considered a more centrist party) – for ransom, basically, able to dictate their own narrow interests with the threat of pulling out of the coalition and collapsing the government.
THIS, in my opinion, isn’t healthy!
So you had Clinton come VERY close to arbritrating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians (Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat) which collapsed at the last minute. You had George W pretty much ignore Israel and the Palestinians until it was time for him to worry about his reelection. And even then, he also went to Saudi Arabia – remember the picture of him bowing to the Saudi king or prince? – and sold lots and lots of weapons to the Egyptians, the Arabs and the Emirates.
Now you have Obama, who early in his administration tried to repair some of the damage to our reputation in the Middle East caused by Bush and his invasion of Iraq, and his War On Terror that Muslims see as a War on Islam. He visited with the Israeli leader and pledged the US’s continuing and undimished support. He gave a speech at Cairo University, he continued the aid to the Egyptians, Arabs, etc that Bush and other presidents had done. The ONLY thing he asked the Netanyahu government to do is continue its moratorium on expanding their takeover of East Jerusalem, to slow the clearing of the Arab portions of the city and building Jewish apartment complexes and neighborhoods. And what did Bibi do – within a few weeks of America’s request, the Israeli government ended its moratorium and started expanding further into East Jerusalem and the West Bank, thereby delaying further any hope for Abbas to make any headway in convincing his Fatah party to enter into peace negotiations.
And now you have Netanyahu trying to dictate foreign policy to the United States. You have Romney sucking up to Bibi at the Wailing Wall – with US billionaire donors in the audience – basically saying that whatever is good for Israel is good for the US. Can you imagine the Fox News outcry if Obama had done that?!?!
So what kind of “leadership” do we want from the President in the Middle East? Do we want a President who will arm the rebels in Syria who are fighting Bashir Assad? OK, WHICH rebel faction? Who are the good guys? No one seems to know. And based on previous outcomes, just because we come to the aid of a particular side doesn’t mean they’re going to love us when it’s all said and done. And if we DO arm a rebel faction, how will that affect our relations with China and Russia?
Do we want a President who will “lead from the Front”, just the opposite of what Obama did in Libya? What does that MEAN exactly? Should we have sent in US planes, US bombs, US troops? What was our overriding national security interest? Or should we have supplied communications systems to help the rebels in their OWN fight, to work with other countries to establish a no-fly zone, to PROTECT American forces from being even more spread out and overworked and overburdened than they already are?
Do we want a President who thinks that RUSSIA is our most important enemy?? Geez, not only does Romney and the Republicans want to take us back to the good old 1950s of Leave it to Beaver, they also want to return to the 50s of bomb shelters in every home and blacks going to the back of the bus and aspirin held between the knees as the only birth control!
You brought up lots of other topics – “such as health care, economy, Iran, immigration” – but I’ve written enough for now.
But just this parting thought: I REALLY have to disagree that the thought that “the parties are more alike in their agendas than different”. This election, I think, shows the most divergent agendas between the 2 parties that I’ve EVER seen. Let’s not forget what the Republican Party is REALLY about, because it was on full display during the Republican primary elections. And it’s VERY visible in the off-the-cuff remarks and hidden videos that reveal what Romney and his supporters REALLY believe.
Education – remember Santorum et al saying that higher education was for “elitists”? Yes, it would seem that Republicans really would rather keep you from getting that good education so that you can, hopefully, stay current in today’s globalized economy. Less education means more minimum wage jobs, which will be GREAT for the big corporations, who also would LOVE to get rid of ALL unionized workers (of which I am one).
And let’s also remember what’s going on in Kansas and Texas and Oklahoma and other places. They’ve decided (in Texas) NOT to teach critical thinking, or subjects that might cause a student to question the “teaching” of their church or parents. Not to teach science or evolution (in Kansas). Yes, we KNOW that the dinosaurs are only 6,000 years old, because that’s what the Bible says. Carbon dating? Phooey!
Health – Let’s get over this boogeyman thing of the “individual mandate” and see what there is. What are YOU worried about in this law? How does this “individual mandate” ACTUALLY affect you? Are you already buying health insurance for you and your family, or are you having it provided for you by some other means? If so, then NOTHING WILL CHANGE for you!! You won’t have to do anything more. You’ve already got insurance, and no one is going to ration it or decide what doctor you can see OTHER THAN WHAT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY IS ALREADY RATIONING AND DICTATING!!!
How else will it affect your family? Well, Becca will be able to stay on your coverage until she’s 25. That doesn’t sound so bad. If, when the time comes for her to get her own insurance, if she has any kind of pre-existing condition, it won’t prevent her from getting coverage. THAT doesn’t sound so bad either. And she’ll be able to get access to women’s health services that the Republicans would just as soon you not talk about because it, well, you know, about S E X.
For Kim and me, since we pay LOTS to cover ourselves each month via Group Health (me) and Regence/Blue Cross (Kim), I hope it will lower our rates and allow us to get the same or better coverages than we have now. And we’re glad that Lizzie will be able to stay covered until she’s 25, too.
Immigration – George W tried and failed to come up with an immigration compromise with Congress. Under the Obama administration, over a million illegal immigrants have been deported, far more than were deported in the 8 years of Bush. But, as you said, this has to come from Congress and there’s no leadership there. The Republican Speaker can’t compromise with his own Tea Partiers – on immigration reform, on the deficit, etc.
As to Obama’s “failure” in general to provide leadership, let’s just keep in mind 2 things:
1. A day or 2 after he was inaugurated, Rush Limbaugh said that “we want this President to fail” http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2009/01/16/limbaugh_i_hope_obama_fails
Many Republicans echoed those sentiments in the following weeks
2. Mitch McConnell, after saying that they would focus “like a laser” on jobs and the economy, said that their Number One Priority after the 2010 elections will be to make sure Obama is a one-term President.
For Republicans and the Tea Party, “change” and “compromise” only work when the Democrats “change” to the Republican point of view, and when Democrats decide to “compromise” and come over to the Republican side of the aisle.
OK, sorry. That was more than a “parting thought”.
More to come……