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With five days left to the election and polls heavily favoring his opponent, Sen.ator John McCain is hoping for a miraculous turnaround—or a disastrous gaffe. In desperation, the Republican’s campaign has ferociously attacked the Los Angeles Times for its claim that releasing a video from 2003 of Senator Barach Obama would violate a confidentiality agreement between it and a source, and its subsequent decision not to make the video public.
The video shows Obama speaking about the importance of finding the middle ground at a dinner honoring a Palestinian scholar; at the event, the Republicans point out, other speakers criticized Israel. McCain hoped to capitalize on this opportunity by linking Obama with the Palestinian cause and casting him as a threat to Israel—anything, it seems to raise doubt in the many voters who rate Israeli sovereignty and security as high political priorities, especially the estimated 650,000 Jews who live in the swing state of Florida.
The idea that Obama will not protect Israel’s right to exist is, however, simply wrong. Americans who strongly support Israel should have no qualms whatsoever about also supporting Obama for president.
Most importantly, Obama’s foreign policy tactics will work in Israel’s favor. The McCain campaign continuously mocks his opponent’s willingness to sit down and talk with leaders of other nations, but Israel herself is also willing to enter talks: she did so with Syria earlier this year.
Moreover, Senator Obama has a keen sense of the complex dynamics at work within the Middle East. His grasp of the situation in Pakistan and Iran indicates his knowledge of the region; months before Operation Shock and Awe commenced, Obama knew Iraq was far from the focal point of American strategic interests. The invasion of Iraq distracted the world from Iran and other threats; John McCain and the Republicans’ refusal to pull troops out will only sustain that diversion. Obama has repeatedly said that he will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, and there is no reason to believe he will go back on his word.
Another reason for people who care about Israel to support Obama is that the nation of 6.9 million needs more support than what America can provide alone. While the McCain campaign evidently considers Obama’s rock-star status in Europe and elsewhere to be a strike against him, the fact that the Democratic candidate holds such sway in the rest of the world could only help his efforts in the geopolitical arena. The unilateralism of the present administration could be a distant and unwelcome memory if Obama’s respect abroad translates into foreign-policy success.
Moreover, supporting Israel is not just a Republican value. As the sole democracy in the Middle East—and also the only country in the region to protect gay rights and equality for women—Israel shares much in common with the Democratic platform. Furthermore, Obama’s unwavering support for Israel may convince those left of center who have their doubts to reconsider their points of view.
People who are still wary of Obama’s ability to protect Israel need look no further than some of the people who have praised him. After meeting with Obama, David Horowitz, the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, wrote that Obama “knew precisely what he wanted to say about the most intricate issues confronting and concerning Israel.” Horowitz contrasted this in his description of McCain, who he said “looked to [Senator Joe] Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed.” On the list of staunchly pro-Israel Americans who have endorsed Obama are Harvard Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz and Ambassador Dennis Ross , the man responsible for brokering the major Middle East peace treaties under both the first Bush and Clinton administrations.
Obama’s steadfast support for the nation of Israel and vow to ensure her continued existence—along with the rest of his platform—should absolutely persuade voters who support Israel to fill in the bubble next to his name. Tomorrow, a vote for Obama will be a vote for Israel.
Alix M. Olian ’11, a Crimson editorial writer, is a social studies concentrator in Lowell House.
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