Jul 13, 2012

Romney in Israel

A Guest Post by Dr. Harold Goldmeier - Harold.Goldmeier@gmail.com

I get to vote for the next American President as a new oleh, immigrant, in the November election if I can figure it out by then. That’s important, because my living here solidifies my commitments to Israel. Also, my views of the administration and events change when I watch news reports (in English) on Israeli, Russian, French, Chinese, and Arab t.v. stations that broadcast here but not in America.  They have a very different take on stories than the American press.

There is a decidedly anti-Obama thread weaving through the American Jewish community. While Jews love the President's social programs, many are uncomfortable and skeptical about his commitment to Israel. Still others believe Mr. Obama, if not a Muslim himself, has deep sympathies for the Muslim world.  Elected to a second term, the President will pressure Israel no end to make life-threatening concessions to the Arabs, in exchange for aid and protection under the American military umbrella.

American citizens living in Israel are more strident in their antipathy for Obama and Sec. of State Clinton. The President made several trips to the region, but never visited Israel. He bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.  His Cairo speech shocked. The reportedly discourteous treatment of P. M. Netanyahu in the White House adds to the anger American Jews in Israel feel; we took that personally. The Palestinian leadership now refuses to negotiate peace with Israel until there is a freeze on new construction in the territories; this never stopped them before Mr. Obama set it as his administration’s policy.  IVoteIsrael, a voter registration NGO, believes November will have the largest  voter turnout of Americans in Israel ever.

I cringe when I have to tell people I still like Obama's domestic policies, and Romney's scare the hell out of me. America will be weakened by Romney's domestic policies that will divulse the social safety net we built since WW II. The schadenfreude of Romney's supporters scare me even more for what kind of society America will be in the future. A weakened America will not be a reliable superpower.

Why are American Jewish voters in Israel crucial this year? There are 163,395 of them. More than half expect to vote this time, and 66% believe Israel related issues are the most important. Only 63% of them who admit voting for Mr. Obama last time expect to vote for him this election, according to a poll commissioned by IVoteIsrael. The President and challenger are today polling neck and neck among U.S. voters.  Think Florida where fewer than 600 votes handed Mr. Bush the Presidency.

On the other hand, "it's the economy stupid,” as his father," Pres. George Sr., was so aptly reminded in his campaign. Americans don't vote for a President for his stellar foreign agenda and achievements. I, like a lot of middle class Jews, sometimes forget we're not white.  I am disheartened by the President's failures to fix the economy, still imprisoning captives in Guantanamo, holding Pollard in the face of calls for his release even from Justice and CIA officials.  I am disgusted by the first family's penchant for expensive vacations.

My friends ask why I would ever entertain the notion of voting for Obama again? They don't threaten, they are just dumbfounded, and so am I.

I guess I will decide whom to vote for when the ballot and pen are in my hands.

Dr. Harold Goldmeier recently sold his business in Chicago, and moved to Israel with his wife to teach business management in the Jerusalem College of Technology.  He is a business development advisor to several start-ups, writer, and ublic speaker on social and business matters. 

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  1. Most criticism of Prez Obama on the issue of Israel is unfounded and racially tinged.
    The fact is, Prez Obama, in terms of money and weaponry, has done more for Israel than any other president in US History, a fact which is overshadowed by his skin color.

    Furthermore, Israeli's are often not aware of their history as a pawn in the cold war and the division of nations between Nato and the Iron Curtain. Israeli's don't realize that they are/were a satellite country subservient to a superpower. This total lack of understanding coupled with ingrained cultural racism against blacks and anything connected with Islam has created a local reality where anything Press Obama does is not and cannot be good enough if he places any demands upon Israel whatsoever... and even without putting demands on Israel, he is black and not rabidly anti-muslim.

    What is best for Israel is not determined by the skin color of the US President or by who can ratchet up the xenophobic and rhetoric of war against muslims. What is best for Israel is a strong US. And Romney's domestic policies are settled debate, they don't work... remember 2008? Why would anyone vote to recreate those economic policies?

  2. I seldom respond to anonymous writers, because they are ashamed of what they write. The Way offers fetid comments, however. To accuse me of racially tinged antagonism to the Prez is putrid. If anything, I and many other Jews voted for Mr. O, because he is a man of color, faced great challenges for it in running his campaign and now serving all the people of America. Perhaps cultural racism is ingrained in you, like against Jews, white boy, but not much in me that affects the way I vote. Every Prez leans on friendly and enemy countries at times, but seldom is it done in public appearances as the Prez has done to Israel too many times. I never wrote we need a national leader rabidly anti-muslim. The Way writes that racist and stupid comment. Apparently, sir or madame or whatever, you view all who may disagree with you as racist--how anti-intellectual.

  3. The problem is, American policy really isn't decided by the president, and what the president does or who they are really doesn't matter.

    However, if we keep voting for the same people, because the "unknown new guy" scares us, then we let the American president continue to make promises they know they won't be keeping.

    Maybe if the current President has more successes than failures it makes sense to vote for them despite those failures, but if not, we should really be voting to give the new guy a chance, and hopefully if enough of them lose their incumbent election they might actually work harder on succeeding in their goals.

  4. Dr. Goldmeier,

    There are many authors who use pen names and are not ashamed of their works...

    Further, I did not accuse you of anything, I made the point that many people's criticism of Prez Obama has more to do with xenophobia and racism than actual criticism. As you yourself said, "there is a decidedly anti-Obama thread weaving through the American Jewish community. While Jews love the President's social programs, many are uncomfortable and skeptical about his commitment to Israel. Still others believe Mr. Obama, if not a Muslim himself, has deep sympathies for the Muslim world."
    When he is not being criticized for being in Rev Wright's church for 20 years he is called a muslim. And to use Muslim as a pejorative, that someone is 'bad' because they are muslim or do not rabidly hate Islamic countries is a core part of the anti-obama thread weaving it's way through american and Israeli Jewry.

    Obama bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia and Bush had him on his ranch as they strolled hand in hand. Diplomacy is often about submitting to cultural differences.

    Expensive vacation? Hello Romney? And Bush who spent half his presidency on his ranch? As did Reagan.

    That Pres. Obama did not fully fix Bush's failed economic policies which caused the great recession is a) partly the fault of the republican filibuster aka the do nothing congress, and b)no reason to elect someone who will recreate bush's economic policies.

    The fact that I point out that much of the anti-obama sentiment weaving it's way through the Jewish community is racially charged is not an attack on you, it is an explanation of the sentiments you have seen in others.
    Anti-intellectual would be to ignore the treatment Obama has received by the Israeli's and by the american (right wing) jews who can barely contain their contempt for a black man with the middle name hussein who has given more money and weapons to Israel than any pres in history.

    Perhaps you were not aware of the shocking treatment Obama received when he visited Israel... Or how Israel made sure to announce massive settlement building the day Joe Biden came to visit.

    I don't think everyone who doesn't like Obama to be a racist, but that does not mean we should ignore the fact that many who do not like obama are in fact racists.

  5. "I don't think everyone who doesn't like Obama to be a racist, but that does not mean we should ignore the fact that many who do not like obama are in fact racists."

    And many people who don't like Romney are also racists. Don't deny it!

  6. The racist card being played by The Way is a red herring, designed to put anyone who disagrees with his support for Obama on the defensive. I will not play that game. I have no issue with Obama's color or religious beliefs; I have an issue with his policies - both domestic and foreign.

    I am am far from a Tea Party conservative, but I still think that the expansion of government's role is something that should only be done incrementally, with careful consideration, and not in the wholesale manner the President has done. I also have serious issues with the increasing deficit, and the lack of attention it's getting - something that's the fault of both the President and Congress. On the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, I disagree with the President's attempt to extend them only for those making under $250,000, but not in the way you'd think - I think they all should be allowed to expire, including for those earning less than $250,000. Unfortunately, simple economics dictate that you'll only start to lower the deficit by raising taxes on a broad base - all taxpayers - rather than a small percentage - the so-called "high earners."

    Foreign policy, though, is where I truly disagree with the President. While it is important to have good relationships with as many countries as possible, having such relationships should not be at the expense of the national interest. This President, whether in his Cairo speach, his announcement of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, or, yes, the pressure he's put on Israel, has put the perception of the US ahead of substance. That's not to say he's done nothing right; however, based on the perponderence of his actions, I think his foreign policy is misguided.

    Based on the above, I'll be voting for Romney - not because I'm a racist, but because I actually think about whom I vote for. As the former moderate governer of Massachusetts, I think that he will be a pragmatic president - and I agree with him on far more than I do with Obama.

    So, The Way, does that make me a racist in your book?

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  9. Anon, it's hard to say that a man as rich and privileged as Romney has been his entire life suffers from racism.

    There are a few fringe elements, on both sides of the aisle, who are anti-mormon, but the rhetoric is limited to a fringe and is nothing like the consistent venom that pours out from the mainstream right against Prez Obama.

    And like I said, many people can disagree with Prez Obama on policy and are not racists, you might be one. But if you argue that he is a Muslim, or an angry black man who is a black panther lite member ala Rev Wright, or are a birther, or that his foreign policy is secretly guided towards islam, then yes, those are all arguments with deep racial overtones.

    As for your policy decisions, I think you are incorrect in your assessment of policy and of Mitt Romney's abilities and accomplishments. He was a failed governor. His rhetoric on foreign policy is inane and scary. His economic policies are the exact policies which drove the American economy into the ground. He has yet to lay out any sort of comprehensive plan or program for just about anything. His hypocrisy is boundless and frankly, given his etch a sketch method of leadership, who are you really choosing? Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

  10. The Way - you're conflating two separate anonymous posters. I am the second one - the one with the longer response - and I said nothing about racism and Romney.

    Re: your points - I don't think Romney was a failed governer at all, and as one who works closely with the Private Equity industry that he comes out of, I actually understand his comments about Bain, and they make perfect sense. I think the Romney-bashing from the left is at least as venomous as what the right pours on Obama; you're just more sensitive to the attacks on "your" candidate.

    And no, I don't say he's a Muslim or an "angry black man"; I'm not a birther (as a matter of fact, I think there was technically more of a legal issue with McCain's eligibility last time, due to his birth in the Panama Canal zone prior to the change in law that made anyone born there a citizen); and I don't think his foreign policy is "secretly guided toward Islam." I do, however, consider him mistaken and/or misguided in his policies on both the economy and foreign relations - particularly on foreign relations, where I consider him to conciliatory towards America's foes, including Islamist foes.

    I don't say that I agree with Romney on everything, just that I agree with him more than Obama. I think a rational discussion on the merits of the two candidates is warranted, but your blatant attempt to paint all - or at a minimum, the vast majority - of Obama opponents as raving racists is an attempt to short-circuit any such discussion. I will NOT be put on the defensive by tactics such as yours, and neither should anyone else.

    You've been called out. Let's now try to have a rational, reasoned discussion of the merits of the candidates.

  11. Anon, i was very clear that not all people who are for romney are racists. I pointed out some of the common attacks on Obama which are racially tinged. The quality of attacks on romney are about his personality or his investment history. You rarely see attacks on his religion and when you do they are not from the mainstream elements of the party, completely different than the politicians and limbaughs and hannitys and tea party members who spew racist fueled venom against Prez Obama.

    So we can agree that you are not attacking Obama based on his race and denounce those in your party who do.

    As for Romney's record, as governor he was run out of town on a rail. unemployment went up, cost of lviing went up, social services were decimated and education plummeted. He didn't run for reelection because a landslide loss would've killed his presidential aspirations.
    I've never made an issue of his time at Bain. Good for him for helping build a major corporation and profiting.
    But his economic policies are virtually a carbon copy of Bush's, and where did that get us? And he is not running as a mass. moderate or a regan republican, he is running as a socially extreme right candidate with economic policies from Hoover. Do you know what a hooverville was? because Hoover's policies are what Bush's economic policy was and thats what romney's policies are as well.

    As for Obama, I could see how killing Osama and assassinating terrorists with drones and special forces, and breaching pakistans borders (which romney said he wouldn't ever do until Obama did it), I can see how tilted towards islamist extremism he is.
    Or maybe it was that he gave more money and weapons to Israel than any other pres in history? is that what you don't like about his foriegn policy? or how he quashed the palistinian statehood bid in the UN? or maybe that he followed the law and pulled out of Iraq according to the treaty that Bush signed?

    PS. Obama was not my choice for prez. I wanted Hillary.

  12. I can help you! If you want to vote, do the following:

    1. Go to ivoteisrael.com.
    2. Enter your information in the pop up form.
    3. You will be redirected to the FVAP form. Enter your information (make sure you know your county).
    4. PRINT the FVAP form and mail it to the specified address.

    Email shira@ivoteisrael.com if you have any questions. Also, if you would like to meet an ivoteisrael rep and register in person (not online), contact Shira to arrange it.

  13. Anti semitism emboldening throughout the world and Israel in the most dangerous position since its inception are reasons for Israel and jews across america to be afraid very afraid if there are four more unfettered years of obama and his mideast policy. I ask why obama as first order of business sent the Churchill bust back to England? Churchill was the only world leader during WWII that tried to save as many jews as possible and fervently believed in a jewish homeland. He bows to saudi princes and treats Netanyahu like an enemy to the point that Netanyahu felt the need to give obama a history lesson on Israel for the world to see. What went on beyond those white house doors we may never know only that the look on both men's faces at the press conference sent chills down my spine.


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