Tens of millions of Americans will go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for a president and vice president. It will be an important day for American democracy. This will be the Americans' day, but the outcome of the elections will impact the entire world.
For Americans in general, and American Jews in particular, the United States' attitude toward Israel is just one of many factors to consider - among internal and foreign affairs, the economy and defense - when casting their vote.
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But for various reasons, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has made incumbent President Barack Obama's policy toward Israel a hot-button issue in the campaign. One of those reasons is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's open support for Romney, who like him enjoys the patronage of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Obama has been accused of taking a cool and hostile stance in relation to Israel on several issues, from Iran to Palestine. Romney promises a warmer, more supportive approach.
Indeed, one would hope the realization of Romney's wishes would further advance Washington-Jerusalem relations, in the tradition of all recent U.S. administrations, both Republican and Democrat. But a deeper examination of the core issues comprising the two countries' relations - devoid of political and personal interests - reveals no grounds for portraying Obama in a negative light.
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Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, assisted Israel's defense by toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and deterring, albeit for a limited period, Iran's accelerated progress toward attaining nuclear weapons. Bush contributed to Israel's peace, even if partially, by being the first president to adopt the two-state solution. His support even enabled the evacuation of settlements from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.
Obama continued this two-way track vis-a-vis Iran and the issue of Palestinian statehood. Under his pressure, Israel suspended for the first time - for a while - construction in the settlements. Relations between the two countries' armed forces have never been so close. Obama's challenge in his second term, if he wins the elections, is to lead the region to a stable arrangement of peace and security.
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The outcome of the elections will be determined by the voters' decision as to which of the two candidates is good for America. But if any of them are vacillating in their vote over whether Obama has been a good president for Israel, the answer is yes.
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