Israel supporters and pundits may have been disappointed by last night’s Republican Presidential Primary debate in South Carolina as the topic of Israel received limited attention. The debate was dominated by discussions on Iran, Pakistan, China, Foreign aid and definitions on what constitutes torture.
No questions were posed that related to the candidates positions on Hamas, Arab aggression towards Israel or proposed solutions to Israel’s ongoing threats to it’s existence.
The only question that focused on Israel, was a follow up query from a tweeter directed to Texas Governor Rick Perry – who had previously pledged that in his administration all foreign aid commitments would start at zero – asking “does Gov. Perry’s “starts at zero” policy include Israel?” He responded by saying, “absolutely,” and followed up to assert that it makes sense that Israel, after making its case would have “substantive assistance.”
Other mentions of Israel were made in passing as the candidates discussed Iran and general foreign policy outlook. Congresswoman Michelle Bachman delivered the most significant criticism of the Obama Administration’s positions on Israel saying “President Obama has been more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street, but he hasn’t been willing to stand with Israel.”
Some see the lack of focus on Israel as a sign that there is actually little to be debated on the matter, Anti Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman told the Algemeiner that “with the exception of Ron Paul, there is not much difference between the parties…..it is not an issue, so therefore there is no reason for it to be debated.”
However says Foxman “Iran is an Israel issue, and the fact that it was upfront (during the debate) is very important for Israel.”
Additionally it may be symptomatic of a general shift in policy thought that for many years placed the Israel – Arab crisis at the center of achieving Middle East stability. In the Middle East Foxman says, “Israel is an issue among significant other issues.”