This article was originally published on Jewish Insider.
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- Trump's support for Israel marred by troubling revival of 'America First' slogan
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The Democratic frontrunner's campaign pushed back on Wednesday against Donald Trump’s criticism of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s treatment of Israel during his first major foreign policy speech in Washington.
In his speech, Trump criticized the Obama administration for abandoning its commitment to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and for snubbing Israel. “Israel, our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity,” Trump said.
“Just a few days ago, Vice President Biden again criticized Israel – a force for justice and peace – for acting as an impediment to peace in the region. He has treated Iran with tender love and care and made it a great power in the Middle East – all at the expense of Israel, our other allies in the region and, critically, the United States.”
“President Obama has not been a friend to Israel,” he declared.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Senator Tim Kaine repudiated Trump’s claims in a conference call with reporters following the speech.
“Trump is wrong is saying the U.S. doesn’t have a strong relationship with Israel or that the Obama administration has been bad for Israel,” Kaine told Jewish Insider. “Look at the investment we made in Israel, whether it’s the Iron Dome, whether it’s work we have done with Israel on cyber, and slowing down the Iranian nuclear program.”
On Iran, Kaine acknowledged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not see eye-to-eye with the administration on the nuclear deal. But he maintained that current and former Israeli security and intelligence officials agree that the military corporation between the two countries has been “stellar” and “now you’re seeing a whole group of Israeli security officials who are willing to publicly say now that the Iranian nuclear deal has given them some breathing room and inspections that will give them some security that Iran won’t develop a nuclear weapon, at least for the first 15 years.”
Kaine further stressed, “There has [only] been one significant disagreement between the president and the prime minister of Israel over the Iran nuclear program.”
Drawing a stark contrast between the Republican frontrunner and the Democratic frontrunner on Israel, Albright told Jewish Insider, “Hillary Clinton has a long record of being very supportive of Israel and spending time with Israeli leaders, going to Israel and understanding the unbreakable relationship that we have. As far as I know, Donald Trump has had one speech at AIPAC.”
“I really do think that nobody can say that there are any issues that cannot be resolved between Hillary Clinton and the Israeli people and the Israeli government,” she added.
On the conference call, Kaine also derided Trump use of "America First" as the label of his foreign policy approach. “If you don’t know enough history to know that that was the movement that tried to keep America out of World War II and said the Nazis weren’t a threat to us, that’s almost a disqualifier right there,” Kaine said.
He pointed out that the comments were made while reading from a teleprompter, which indicates that this wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark. “Did nobody edit it or say ‘Wait a minute, let’s check some of these facts or rethink this?’” he said.
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