I've been asked by the Obama campaign to get involved in the Florida campaign. Of course, I will do that and I expect to be in Florida campaigning on the president's behalf after Labor Day. In the meanwhile, I wrote an op-ed supporting the president's reelection, which appeared in one of Florida's most important newspapers, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. I thought that you would like to see it. What do you think of my comments?
This post originally appeared in the "South Florida Sun-Sentinel."
Support for Jews, Israelites, All People Translates Into Support for Obama
In an effort to establish his qualifications to be president of the United States, Gov. Mitt Romney recently visited England, Israel and Poland, and there is now an added interest in the views of the presidential candidates on Israel.
Last year, I criticized President Barack Obama after he urged the Palestinian Authority and Israel to resume negotiations and stated that Israel should use the 1967 boundaries, with mutually agreed-upon land swaps, as a template for drawing the lines for the new Palestinian state. Wanting to send the president a message of opposition to this stance, I supported a Republican candidate in a special congressional election, and he won.
I am now often asked why I am supporting the president's reelection.
In his first presidential race, President Obama received 74 percent of the Jewish vote. Last year, it looked like those numbers might be significantly lower in 2012. However, as last Friday's Gallup poll illustrates, the president's numbers in the Jewish community have almost completely rebounded. Maybe other Jewish voters have seen in the president what I have seen.
I believe the president heard the Jewish community's concerns. His actions, certainly for me, verify that fact. His speech at the United Nations supporting Israel was the strongest statement of its kind ever made by a U.S. president. Even more important was his personal, and successful, involvement at the Security Council preventing the Palestinian Authority from gaining entry to the United Nations as an independent state. That action was clear, unambiguous evidence of his commitment to the Jewish state. His urging of the Israelis and Palestinians to engage in negotiations without preconditions was extremely important, and his reiterating and demanding that Hamas give up violence, recognize the legality of the state of Israel and all prior agreements, showed real leadership.
The statement of Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak about the cooperation between Israel and the United States on intelligence gathering and military supplies provided by the United State to Israel was the best ever in the long relationship between the two countries. That, too, was clear evidence of President Obama's commitment to Israel.
Further, President Obama's leading the U.N. Security Council to take much harsher sanctions against Iran and make clear that the United States was committed to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb -- not simply to a policy of containment -- made clear to me his absolute commitment to the security and defense of the State of Israel.
I have no intention of attacking Gov. Romney or the Republican Party for their support of the State of Israel. In fact, I commend them for it. I believe both presidential candidates and parties are committed to standing with Israel if it were to be attacked by Iran. As a Jew and a supporter of that state, I am grateful.
My commitment to Israel is based on the history of how the world stood by when Hitler and the Nazis waged war against the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. No country stepped forward when Hitler offered to allow them to leave if a country would accept them. If Israel had existed at that time, it would have taken in every Jew permitted to leave Germany and the rest of Europe, where ultimately six million were murdered.
The reason Jews like myself are dedicated to the United States, a country that has given Jews so much since the days of George Washington, and now support the Democratic Party and the reelection of President Obama, is the huge difference in philosophy that the contending candidates and parties have expressed on domestic issues.
Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, given the opportunity, would end the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare. If they could, they would privatize both and destroy the existing, unshakable contract between the U.S. government and the beneficiaries of these programs. Instead, they would create a voucher system and private accounts on Wall Street for each Social Security beneficiary. They would give Medicare beneficiaries a voucher and then tell them to negotiate with insurance companies to see how much more they would have to pay. Medicaid beneficiaries would no longer be protected by the U.S. government. Instead, the program would be turned into a block grant, with states each separately deciding on the limits of the program.
So, I urge Jewish voters who support a U.S. policy of continuing and strengthening the special status Israel has as our ally as well as domestic programs that protect the elderly, the middle class and the rights of women and minorities; that require the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes; and that require responsible regulation of the banks and Wall Street, to vote for the reelection of President Obama. They should also support the candidates of the Democratic Party so as to give President Obama a filibuster-free Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives to continue to expand the social programs protecting all, especially the children and the poor.
If you trust my judgment, vote for President Obama. I look forward to voting for our president in November, and I hope you will, too.