Jews And Israel And One Republican
A Protestant minister once told me, as well as I can remember, "Conservatives dislike Jews and love Israel." In today's context, the remark may seem a mere observation- but it was made 25-30 years ago.
Mitt Romney has not been sparing in his fulsome support of the tiny Mideast nation. While the Administration maintains its "capital should be determined in final status negotiations between parties," Romney contended in an interview last month on CNN "A nation has the capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel's capital... I think it's long been the policy to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital of Jerusalem."
In October of last year Romney, who views the President's support of Israel as unacceptably lukewarm, remarked "I believe our relationship with Israel, a nation which shares our values and is our best friend in the Middle East, should be of support and confidence rather than criticism and blame." Taking another swipe at Obama, the presumptive GOP nominee while in Jerusalem last month argued "We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel voice their criticism. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel's adversaries."
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, defending in late June Israel's right to attack Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, praised President Obama and noted "several years ago the (2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate) raised some questions. Now there are no differences between our intelligence." Nevertheless Romney, coyly slamming Administration's policy, said in Jerusalem "we must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option." A senior foreign policy aide stated "If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision."
The backing granted Israel by the former Massachusetts governor is convenient, given that his biggest financial supporter is casino mogul, likely criminal, and radical Likud supporter Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to spend at least $100 million to elect the GOP nominee. Still, it has been, at least rhetorically, all-encompassing, while his fondness for the people of Israel is questionable. BuzzFeed found that at a fund-raiser in Chicago after his return from the Holy Land, Romney contended
It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America. What America is not a collective where we all work in a Kibbutz or we all in some little entity, instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.
David Nir of DailyKos comments
For a lot of American Jews, especially those who've had the chance to visit one themselves, the kibbutz is a special cultural touchstone. Though its origins date from before the Second World War, kibbutzim are a vibrant symbol of the pioneering, selfless spirit that allowed the state of Israel to rise from the ashes of the Holocaust. To attack the institution of the kibbutz is to attack something very close to the heart of many Jews.
Romney's statement hardly qualifies as anti-semitism, unlike use of an ethnic epithet or application of the term "Holocaust" to women's reproductive freedom, not uncommon with some on the cultural right. Still, his consistent advocacy for the nation of Israel, coupled with an undisguised distaste for an institution intrinsic to the maintainance of the Jewish state, suggests that, a quarter of a century later, many conservatives remain far fonder of Israel than of Jews.