Romney in Israel: Now We Know
Now we know that Mitt Romney did not really much care for the idea of not criticising the President, or contradicting the nation’s current foreign policy, when outside the United States. “Diplomatic distance that is public and critical emboldens Israel’s adversaries,” he proclaimed in a speech in Jerusalem on Sunday. In the same address, he referred to the city as “Israel’s capital”, in defiance of official U.S. policy on the matter.
Now we know, or rather we can confirm, that Romney has no ear for poetry or language, and lacks the ability to turn a phrase and convey real human emotions. During an address at a fundraising breakfast Monday morning that was supposed to convey his appreciation and even love for Israel, Romney said, “As I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognise the power of at least culture and a few other things”. I recognise the power of at least culture and a few other things. The trees are the right height. Its roads and houses are small.
Now we know there’s nothing Romney will not do to peel Jewish voters away from the Democrats, no matter how offensive his gesture. Jeffrey Goldberg described as “very vulgar” his decision to be photographed in prayer at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av – the day on which the First and Second Temples were destroyed, “one of the most solemn days on the Jewish calendar”. “I’m sure, by the way,” Goldberg added, that conservatives “would endorse an Obama campaign stop at Yad Vashem on the Holocaust Memorial Day”.
Now we know there’s nothing Romney will do not to appease Benjamin Netanyahu. Having originally scheduled a meeting with Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich – as he did with Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition in the United Kingdom – Romney conducted a volte-face and cancelled at two hours notice. Ha’aretz reported that Netanyahu’s camp instructed him to call off discussions with Labor, ostensibly on the basis that Shaul Mofaz is now the official opposition leader, not Yacimovich.
Now we know what Romney’s stance on Iran might very well be in office. Romney’s senior advisor on matters pertaining to Israel and national security told the media before he arrived in Jerusalem, “If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that (nuclear) capability, the governor would respect that decision”.
Now we know that Romney’s interpretation of Israel and its future is aligned quite closely to the national-religious right. Romney sees the “hand of providence” in Israel’s success. And, he took it upon himself to note “a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality” between Israel and “the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority”, without ever really discussing the reasons for it. As The Guardian noted, while in Israel Romney “made no mention of either Israel’s 45-year occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, nor its continuing blockade of Gaza”. The two state solution just didn’t come up.
Now we know. Do not say you weren’t warned.