It wasn’t one of the highest-profile events of the week, but President Obama spoke in Maryland yesterday at the 71st General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism. Reader F.B. encouraged me to take a look, so I watched it, and anyone questioning the president’s commitment to Israel should take the time to do the same.
The transcript is online. This portion seemed especially relevant, given recent Republican attacks against the administration:
“And as Ehud has said, it is hard to remember a time when the United States has given stronger support to Israel on its security. In fact, I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours. None. Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.
“I’m proud that even in these difficult times we’ve fought for and secured the most funding for Israel in history. I’m proud that we helped Israel develop a missile defense system that’s already protecting civilians from rocket attacks
“Another grave concern — and a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world — is Iran’s nuclear program. And that’s why our policy has been absolutely clear: We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And that’s why we’ve worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners, and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced. We haven’t just talked about it, we have done it. And we’re going to keep up the pressure. And that’s why, rest assured, we will take no options off the table. We have been clear.
“We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies, just as we’ve been doing when they’ve needed us most. In September, when a mob threatened the Israeli embassy in Cairo, we worked to ensure that the men and women working there were able to get out safely. Last year, when raging fires threatened Haifa, we dispatched fire-fighting planes to help put out the blaze.
“On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel. And we will continue to do so. That’s what friends and allies do for each other. So don’t let anybody else tell a different story. We have been there, and we will continue to be there. Those are the facts.”
As for the peace process, Obama added, to the applause of the audience, “As president, I have never wavered in pursuit of a just and lasting peace — two states for two peoples; an independent Palestine alongside a secure Jewish State of Israel. I have not wavered and will not waver.”
On a related note, Ben Smith had a fascinating item the other day noting the frequency with which Ronald Reagan, as president, frequently butted heads with Israeli officials in the 1980s. “If Obama treated Israel like Reagan did, he’d be impeached,” Chemi Shalev said this week.
Just a little something for Republicans to keep in mind.