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No Better Time for Mitt Romney to Visit Israel than Tisha Be’Av

July 29, 2012 5:51 pm 9 comments

Mitt Romney posts a note in a crack in the Western Wall. Photo: Screenshot.

Comments have been circulating, accusing Mitt Romney of ‘disrespect’ and poor choice in selecting Tisha Be’Av, a day of national Jewish mourning over the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, for his photo-op tour of the Jewish State. Frankly, I personally can’t think of a better day for him to visit.

There are longstanding norms against a presidential contender criticizing a sitting president while abroad, but Romney was free to put forward his own positions on foreign policy, which he has done both directly and indirectly through surrogates, diplomatic innuendo and overt symbolism.

Among the most pivotal criticisms of President Obama’s Israel policy is his emphasizing of the Arab narrative regarding the Jewish connection to the Holy Land, which they claim began following the Holocaust.

“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known…..It is based upon….the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust,” said Obama in Cairo in 2009. The next stop on his itinerary was concentration camp, Buchenwald, not Israel.

Mitt Romney however, opened his remarks in Israel by saying, “To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land.” He continued, “It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity, over so great a span of time, is recalled by just one day on the calendar.”

The difference is subtle but clear, Obama’s recollection of Jewish history is focused on the Holocaust and perhaps the relatively recent persecution of European Jewry. Romney’s recognition of Tisha Be’Av’s historical context as an ancient day in the Jewish calendar that remembers millennia of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem, and aspiration for the city’s rebuilding, is integral.

By choosing to make the 9th of Av the center point of his trip to Israel, Romney has fundamentally contrasted himself with Obama by underlining the Jewish narrative which states that, the Jewish claim to Jerusalem and Israel predates the Holocaust by thousands of years.

Additionally the hullabaloo over Romney’s Jerusalem fundraiser breakfast that was initially thought to be scheduled on Tisha Be’Av itself was a golden gift egg to the Jewish people.

The day of all days in the Jewish calendar that embodies the historic Jewish claim to Jerusalem and Israel has never received so much mainstream media attention. I don’t recall in my lifetime seeing headlines on CNN, The Huffington Post, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many other major outlets around the world mentioning the holiday.

Romney’s speech to the Jerusalem Foundation was also riddled with other intrinsic contrasts between himself and President Obama on attitudes toward Israel. Including by not limited to:

  • His confirmation of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” he said.  The Obama administration has consistently rejected this position.
  • He affirmed the basis of the United States’ special relationship with Israel as one based on both interests and shared values, saying, “I believe that the enduring alliance between the State of Israel and the United States of America is more than a strategic alliance: it is a force for good in the world.” The White House today appears to be focused on an interest based equation.
  • Romney expressed respect for Israel’s independence as a sovereign nation, answerable in its government’s decisions only to its citizens. “We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you,” said the former Governor.
  • In an unprecedented move, he expressed support for Israel’s struggle in the new age battleground of ideas. “And standing by Israel does not mean with military and intelligence cooperation alone. We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms,” said Romney.

Overall, the trip highlighted fundamental contrasts between what a Romney administration would mean for Israel versus what Israelis are faced with today. His advisers who guided the path he has taken should be commended.

Now it is up to America to choose.

The author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

9 Comments

  • Michael Koenigsberg

    Mr Rommney is simply put one of the greatest flipfloppers in the history of American politics.Who is to say he wouldnt turn on us if it suited his politics.Ido not agree with some of the social issues that thhe present adiministration has taken.But as far as Israel is Concerned they have given more money than any other administration by far.Futhermore the first time in the history American soldiers were manning anti missle defences in Israel.Jerusalem is and will always be the capitol of Israel.We do not need any phoney politician to tell me that.Hashem gave us that.Finally i am fearful of striking Iran alone.I beleive we need help.Finally iwas out raged when Obama told us to go back to pre war boundries however they ere just words without any action and actions speak louder than words.the US and Israelhave conducted joint training exercises aimed at striking at Irans Nuclear Facilities.Mr Rommney is all talk.let go back to his offshore accounts and count his money-thats what he does best.May Hashem bless us all and haten the coming of Moshiach.Do not vote for the Republicians.

    • Draizy Newhouse

      Hooray!
      THank G-d there are still smart people among the Jews who don’t just follow the mob!

  • Draizy Newhouse

    Hash-m has protected Israel all those years and will always be with us. But who would protect America if a man like Romney win the election Chas Vesholom?
    His money is in Switzerland and in off shore accounts. (he admitted to it but said he didn’t break the law). He wants to cut the last safety net that old people have, the Medicare and social security. HIs yearly income is 27 million dollars and he has no clue how ordinary AMerians live and what their needs are. He wants to repeal the Obamacare and has nothing to replace it withwith even though he instituted the same plan in Massachusetts while he was a governor. In Mass. everybody has to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. The plan is good for the people of Mass. and not for the rest of us? What hypocrisy!!!!!
    THere is a herd mentality now among many Jews who became rabid anti Obama and have no clue what Romney has in store for them. Unless of course they are wealthy Republicans who want more and more tax breaks for themselves.
    Let’s hope Hash-m will save us from the possible calamity.

    • Your comments warrant the clear description of dumb Jew. Congratulations

    • It amazes me how the media can distort Mitt Romney’s background and flip flopping without printing actual facts. In America we teach that it is the land of opportunity and that anybody can become successful and wealthy yet when they become wealthy and successful week chastise them. Mitt Romney created his own success and companies he helped fund and create. Obama did nothing before becoming a senator. Then campaigned for two years as a do nothing senator as he became a candidate for president then finally a president . Romney will do more fore the world positively than Obama ever dreamed of.

  • I got no problem with Mitt showing up on the 9th of AV, though I would say that Tish B’Av is the one thing I’m superstitious about, so if I were a gentile, and wanted to do something having to do with Jews or Israel, I wouldn’t want to do it.

    That being said, he scheduled (then canceled) a $50K a plate fundraiser on Tish B’Av, and that bit WAS tasteless.

  • Romney gave an excellent speech, hitting many important topics and slamming Obama in the interim without ever mentioning his name.
    I admit I was not happy with the choice of Tisha B’ Av for Romney’s visit and deemed it insensitive, but to speak of the observance as he did and to mention he would be joining PM Bibi Netanyahu to break the fast was very good.
    Not hesitating to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was spot on. Hopefully, upon his swearing in next January Romney will have the stones to move the embassy there.
    I hope and pray Obama is defeated; I certainly am doing my part; and I hope Romney revisits Israel in his first or second foreign trip.

    • Was thrilled that Gov. Romney made it clear that Jerusalem
      is the capitol of Israel. The wishy-washy, insulting words from this administration refusing to acknowledge this, make me wonder if we’re in the Twilight Zone. Truly sickening spin.

  • Daniel Evans

    Too bad the average voting American Jew hasn’t loved Israel like Romney does. Hopefully that is changing.

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