McCain for America - and Israel
Jun. 17, 2008
MORRIS J. AMITAY , THE JERUSALEM POST
With both parties' presumptive nominees identified, the choice for the pro-Israel community is clear - John McCain is the one. I only wish my conclusion was shared by more of my co-religionists, a strong majority of whom invariably support Democratic candidates, more out of habit than conviction.
This majority fails to appreciate the growing menace of Islamic extremism both to the United States and to Israel. For too many Jewish Americans, ensuring our own safety and security and that of Israel appears to be a lower priority than certain domestic issues, such as preserving abortion rights. One has to wonder why the well-educated 50ish year-old woman I encountered recently would rank her absolute right to an abortion as the most important issue facing our nation, when the chances of her being killed by a terrorist act are infinitely greater than her having to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.
A similarly disappointing view was expressed by a retired septuagenarian in Florida who told me recently with all sincerity, that for him, the next president's Supreme Court appointments are the most crucial determinant of his vote. Can this really be more important than the future security of his grandchildren, or does he think that jihadist threats are less serious than the "menace" of a strict constructionist judge?
This baffling ordering of priorities would perhaps have more validity if McCain had made the abortion issue a prominent feature of his entire public life. Instead, his prime concern has been national security. Why do so many Jews with memories of the Holocaust still fresh consider the bloodcurdling statements by Islamist extremists as mere rhetoric, while at the same time taking at face value Obama's calls for "change we can believe in" and slogans such as "we are the ones we've been waiting for"?
THERE IS also the belief shared by some in the Jewish community here that the current unpopularity of Israel and the United States is a result of their actions, the "it's all our fault" mentality. A few years ago at a private meeting, a prominent liberal, Jewish US senator told then prime minister Ariel Sharon that the reason for growing anti-Semitism was Israel's actions.
Then there are the Jewish Americans who, in often frantic attempts to burnish their liberal credentials, subscribe to the "both sides are to blame" explanation of international conflicts. Purveyors of this theory conclude that the way to deal with sworn enemies is to demonstrate heartfelt concern for their "legitimate grievances," which will then lead to peaceful relations.
A LACK of basic understanding of the values the United States still represents to the world was pointedly in evidence when Michelle Obama infamously proclaimed that only now is she proud of America. As the son of immigrants who found refuge and better lives here, I have always felt proud to be an American, while not always agreeing with all the policies and actions of my country. The philosophy of the church attended by the Obamas for 20 years is a combination of victimology and hatred of America.
I have absolutely no problem with those who pursue their liberal causes - I was an aide to both a liberal Democratic representative and a liberal Democratic senator. I can truly claim that "some of my best friends" are Democrats! However, I have to admit that now most of them are of the centrist, Joe Lieberman, "Scoop" Jackson variety, than the Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich, far-left "progressive" types enamored with Obama.
Lieberman, now an independent Democrat who has enthusiastically endorsed McCain for president, recently wrote, "I have worked with Sen. McCain on just about every national security issue over the past 20 years… I have seen Sen. McCain time and time again rise above the negativism and pettiness of our politics to get things done for the country he loves so much."
Contrast this with the shallow background and thin resume of McCain's likely opponent. Because he somehow transcends race, it is assumed Obama will transcend everything else - divisions of region, class, party, generation, and ideology, his record in the Senate to date to the contrary.
He is also being compared by an adoring media to John F. Kennedy's candidacy. As has been pointed out, however, it is not Obama, but actually McCain who, like Kennedy, was commissioned as a naval officer, awarded the Purple Heart, and decorated for helping his comrades. And McCain, like JFK, has pledged to fight for freedom around the world, and not retreat from our enemies.
THERE ARE many in the US Congress whose Israel-related voting records according to AIPAC are excellent. Obama in his brief four years in the Senate is among them. But some of these senators appear unwilling to confront the growing menace Islamofacism poses to America's vital interests in the Middle East and Israel's survival. During the past year there has been only one presidential candidate who before all kinds of audiences has repeatedly emphasized that "the transcendent challenge we face today is the menace of Islamic extremism."
That, of course, has been John McCain. And that is why in the coming election on November 4, he offers a clear choice to voters who share his concern for America and its friends' survival. McCain's "straight talk" is not, as some claim, merely fear or war "mongering," but facing up to the reality of today's world. McCain does not suffer from the moral equivalence syndrome of the US State Department, and the liberal media exemplified by the New York Times.
ONE CAN RESPECT Barack Obama for his ambition, his meteoric rise, and his rhetorical skills displayed recently at AIPAC's Policy Conference. But to no one's surprise, he almost immediately backtracked from his remarks on Jerusalem. This is eerily similar to his "explanation" of his previous assent to unconditional talks with Iran's Ahmadinejad.
Also worrisome is the unremarkable, but ultra-liberal, voting record he has compiled during his short time in the US Senate. He has earned the rank of the "most liberal" senator among his colleagues at the same time he claims to be a "unifier." Many centrist Democrats were disappointed by Obama's failure to join in the highly effective bipartisan senate initiative regarding judicial appointments known as the "gang of 14."
If his actual record on "bringing people together" is so meager, his national security resume is even thinner. This means he will have to rely more heavily on his advisers. Here it can really get scary, given both the backgrounds of several of those who have counseled him to date and the endorsements he has received from a long list of Israel bashers. It is not difficult to determine whose advice he will rely upon and to whom he will owe his political allegiance in the future, his AIPAC speech notwithstanding
If one believes we live today in a very dangerous world with unprecedented challenges, the choice before the American people and the Jewish community should be, as we say, a no-brainer. There are so many critical issues our next president will have to face on that much bullyhooed "day one": Iran, Iraq, Russia, North Korea, Afghanistan, China, global terrorism, a faltering NATO alliance - and, of course, the Israel-Arab conflict.
Given the candidates' records, experience and core values, the choice for the pro-Israel community and the American people as a whole should really be a "slam dunk" - John McCain for President.
The writer, a Washington attorney, is a former executive director of AIPAC and founder of the pro-Israel Washington PAC (www.washingtonpac.com).