I have always held the well-being of the Jewish people close to my heart. On its behalf, I have engaged countless heads of state on matters relating to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I traveled through Israel’s borders as Scud missiles rained all around; stood beside the smoldering ashes of the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires after Iranian terrorists destroyed them; and stared down the Soviet regime to successfully negotiate the release of Jewish political prisoners.
Throughout those efforts and many more, I came to value the importance of having a strong ally in the White House who is firmly committed to the safety and security of the Jewish State. President Barack Obama is such an ally and his steadfast support for the Jewish State has made it safer and more secure than ever before.
Today, President Obama is leading a renewed commitment by the United States to ensure that Israel remains safe and secure, with the independent ability to defend itself from external threats. Although the United States has a long tradition of providing military support to Israel, under President Obama, financial aid to Israel is at its highest levels ever. And while many in Washington are calling for budget cuts, President Obama has made clear that domestic belt-tightening would not jeopardize defense funding for Israel.
President Obama has led a resurgence of joint military cooperation between Israel and the United States. In fact, following President Obama’s directive, the United States Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces have increased their strategic collaboration on defense technology, deployment, tactics, and intelligence to levels never before experienced.
Whether it is joint military exercises to stave off threats from terrorist and rogue regimes, or advancement and deployment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, President Obama has led a breakthrough in a mutually beneficial partnership with Israel.
Nevertheless, despite the clear facts and substantial evidence, political partisans and opponents of the president continue a coordinated campaign to sow seeds of doubt about President Obama’s support for Israel. The effort is not new. It began in 2008 when people stressed his middle name and used it as a weapon. From there, they began to call then-Senator Obama a Muslim. With the Muslim myth debunked, these same critics moved on and began questioning the president’s place of birth.
Now, they are claiming that President Obama cannot be trusted to keep Israel safe. Despite all evidence to the contrary, these political partisans believe the American people -- and particularly the Jewish community -- are uninformed and that we cannot tell the difference between rhetoric and reality.
The reality is that when confronted with rhetorical attacks and efforts to sow doubts about his support for Israel, President Obama could have simply adopted the swagger and bravado of his predecessor. It would have been easy for President Obama to go on a speaking tour pandering to the Jewish community and those in America who love Israel. But that is not his style. President Obama is a thoughtful, decisive and pragmatic leader. He values substantive solutions over political gamesmanship. Forgoing the bluster and bravado of others, President Obama continues his practical and deliberate support for the State of Israel.
I have had the great privilege to work with successive U.S. Presidents over the past half-century on countless issues. On matters relating to Israel, one comment now stands out in my mind more than any other. While sitting in the Oval Office not long ago, President Obama looked me in the eye and said, “My commitment to Israel’s security is bone-deep.” It is reflected in his actions; it comes from a passion to secure the Jewish State, and it traces through his roots.
President Obama is a man who has taken those words and honored them with action. As a result, the State of Israel is more secure and I will be proud to vote for him this November.
Edgar M. Bronfman is the former CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. and the former president of the World Jewish Congress.
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