Op-Ed: Obama has helped make Israel safer

NEW YORK (JTA) – Throughout a half-century of international diplomatic work, I have learned to tell the politicians from the friends and the charlatans from the statesmen. Charlatans scream. They tell you what you want to hear and call other people names. Friends and leaders need not rely on rhetoric or boisterous bravado. They produce results and act on principle.  

President Obama is such a friend and leader. In his 3 1/2 years in office he has deepened and strengthened the relationship between the United States and Israel. And today, Obama continues to implement a comprehensive pro-Israel agenda that has made Israel safer and more secure.

Under Obama, U.S. financial aid to Israel is at its highest levels ever. During the past four years, Israel has avoided becoming engaged in any substantial frontal military engagements, advanced its notable economic development and remains prepared for negotiating a comprehensive peace. Obama as president has led a mutually beneficial resurgence in the exchange of strategic technology, intelligence and cooperation between U.S. armed forces and the Israel Defense Forces. 

Standing by Israel, Obama opposed the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and blocked its recognition at the United Nations. He supported Israel’s right to defend itself and confronted head-on the now-discredited Goldstone Report that condemned Israeli defensive action off its coast. He also ordered the United States to withdraw from the Durban Review Conference, whose namesake conference was supposed to be about racism but instead became an anti-Israel hate-fest. Obama stated unequivocally that “The United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum.”

Going even further, Obama has taken the floor of the United Nations to declare that “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate" and that "efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will be met only by the unshakable opposition of the United States.” 

When Fatah and Hamas joined political forces and pressured Israel to enter negotiations with them, Obama told the world that “No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction,” concluding that “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist.”

And this is also why Obama has taken such a strong stand against the Iranian nuclear program — the single greatest threat to the State of Israel and the stability of the Middle East. After years of inaction and neglect by the Bush administration, Obama constructed an international coalition to impose the most crippling sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. These sanctions have already chocked off Iran’s access to many capital markets and have had a profound effect on the way Tehran finances its nefarious operations. Covert U.S. operations targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure reportedly have also slowed their rate of progress.

While his opponents can talk tough on Iran, the president is doing what is necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. 

Nevertheless, despite clear facts and substantial evidence, political partisans and opponents of the president continue a coordinated campaign to distort reality in a brazen attempt to fool the public. The same type of people who called Obama a closet Muslim and claimed he was not born in the United States now exercise linguistic calisthenics to obfuscate the truth and portray the president as hostile to the Jewish state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not long ago, while sitting in the Oval Office, Obama looked me in the eye and said, “My commitment to Israel’s security is bone deep.” He did not have to say it. I already knew that President Obama would never forsake the Jewish state, its security and its people. His record of performance is crystal clear and the charlatans cannot change that.

My father before me actively supported Jewish communities around the world and prior to 1948 closely worked with those establishing the modern State of Israel. For more than a half century, I have worked with successive Israeli governments and U.S. presidents — Republican and Democrat — to provide for the safety and security of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.  

My family has loved, worked, invested in and supported the State of Israel, its security and its people since before its founding. We have not always agreed with its policies, but we have always been there to support and defend its government and people. We are connected to every facet of Jewish life and want nothing more than Israel’s peace, security, vibrancy and prosperity. I am confident that President Obama shares our values and I shall confidently vote for him in November. 

(Edgar M. Bronfman is the former CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and the former president of the World Jewish Congress.)

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