There is no doubt that Mitt Romney is a great friend and supporter of Israel. During his short but significant visit to the country, the former Massachusetts governor said all the right things.
He backed, inter alia, “any and all measures” to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons, Israel’s right to defend itself (adding “it is right for America to stand by you”) and its claim to Jerusalem as its capital — much to the chagrin of the Palestinians.
He argued that Israel’s security is a “vital national security interest of the United States” and advocated a strong partnership between the two countries.
Romney received a warm welcome from Israeli leaders, especially Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who noted that they had been friends for decades.
Netanyahu stressed that international sanctions against Iran, led by the U.S., must be backed by a credible threat of military action.
But Netanyahu, whose relations with President Barack Obama have sometimes been strained, must be careful not to appear to be backing Romney. As Israel’s leader, he cannot publicly favor one candidate over another.
His trip to Israel, like Obama’s before the last presidential campaign, clearly won him friends here and might boost his chances among American Jews and perhaps Christian voters, too.
With Obama and Romney running neck and neck in the polls, recent surveys have signaled that the American Jewish vote could swing in the direction of the Republican party more than in the past, even if a majority continues to vote Democrat.
Actions often speak louder than words. We can only embrace Romney and thank him for this important visit while urging Obama to follow suit. Both men are friends of Israel; we believe their friendship will endure, irrespective of who wins the presidential race. It is in both their interest and ours.
The Jerusalem Post (July 30)