11 August 2012
(This article was first published at National Review Online on July 29, 2012)
Mitt Romney, the all-but-official Republican presidential candidate, delivered a stem-winder of a speech to the Jerusalem Foundation today, packing emotional support with frank policy statements. The contrast with Obama could hardly be more dramatic. Indeed, one could go through the speech and note the many refutations of Obama. For example, the opening comment that “To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land” directly contrasts with Obama’s crabbed statement in Cairo about “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland [being] rooted in a tragic history.”
Also, in contrast to the nonsensical Obama administration stance on Jerusalem – sneaking in changes to captions that identified it as such and going through verbal gymnastics to avoid calling it that – Romney came out and plainly called Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.”
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Many of his statements are paeans to the Jewish state and its extraordinary ties to the United States. Some quotations, with my additions in italic on the key words in each quotation:
Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel.
It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States.
We have seen the horrors of history. We will not stand by. We will not watch them play out again. It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy. … We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions.
our alliance runs deeper than the designs of strategy or the weighing of interests. The story of how America – a nation still so new to the world by the standards of this ancient region – rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history. Different as our paths have been, we see the same qualities in one another. Israel and America are in many respects reflections of one another.
the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world. America’s support of Israel should make every American proud. We should not allow the inevitable complexities of modern geopolitics to obscure fundamental touchstones. … A free and strong America will always stand with a free and strong Israel.
By history and by conviction, our two countries are bound together. No individual, no nation, no world organization, will pry us apart. And as long as we stay together and stand together, there is no threat we cannot overcome and very little that we cannot achieve.[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]
But of the whole speech, it is the final words that most struck me: “May God bless America, and may He bless and protect the Nation of Israel.” When last did a politician ask the Lord to protect another country and not his own?
Comments: (1) Obama and Romney stand as far apart on Israel as they do on the sources of economic growth. (2) Over and over again, Romney returned to the moral bonds between the two countries; yes, there are mutual benefits from our connection, but ultimately it reflects something higher and greater than any of us. (3) Were he elected, it will be fascinating to watch to what extent the outlook expressed today will convey to the workaday policy issues. I expect it will substantially convey.
July 29, 2012 update: (1) Josh Katzen of the new JNS.org news service notes the contrast between Romney’s saying, “I look forward to my family joining his [i.e., Netanyahu’s] this evening as they observe the close of this fast day of Tisha B’Av” and Obama’s snubbing Netanyahu at the White House when Obama went off to have dinner with his family in March 2010, leaving the Israeli prime minister to cool his heels.
(2) The Menachem Begin Heritage Center points out that Romney quoted Begin three times in his speech, not something that American presidential aspirants do every day.[/wpcol_1half_end]
Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.