This week Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the United States will provide $70 million dollars to Israel for the Iron Dome missile defense system. The Iron Dome is a mobile air defense system designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4-70 kilometers. It was first deployed one year ago and, to date, has intercepted about 100 rockets fired out of the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, where over one million Israelis live within range of the ongoing threat of Palestinian aggression.
“Iron Dome is a game changer, saving lives and providing increased security to innocent Israelis who for too long have been terrorized by random Palestinian terrorist rocket attacks,” said Rep. Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“At every turn — Democrats and Republicans, this administration and the Netanyahu government — we all have walked in lockstep to achieve these results together,” Berman said in a statement, calling Israeli security “an American imperative.”
The need for additional Iron Dome systems has been necessitated by the recent influx of weapons into Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Unfortunately, this influx of weapons is a direct result of the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy.
The U.S. supported the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi through the use of so-called “Kinetic Military Action,” which allows for use of American air and naval power in support of conflict but keeps American boots off the ground, a model now being eyed for intervention in Syria. But without American or NATO troops on the ground to exert control in the post-conflict confusion, weapons have flowed freely out of Libya into the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
Large shipments of these weapons– including anti-aircraft missiles, RPGs and anti-tank weapons– have been smuggled to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and then into the neighboring Gaza Strip. Exacerbating the problem, the Obama Administration recently waived the congressional ban on foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority and provided them with a $192 million dollar aid package helping to finance increased purchases of these weapons.
The contradicting actions call into question both the folly of the Administration’s decision to provide funds to Palestinian terror groups and the veracity of Obama’s commitment to Israel and its defense. Rather than being a response to Israel’s eroding security, it is more likely a response to eroding Jewish support going into the 2012 presidential election.
Republican party identification amongst Jews has increased by 9% over 2008 and Democratic party identification by Jews has decreased by 7% over that same period. Additionally, only 62% of Jewish voters say they would like to see Obama re-elected in 2012, down from 78% that voted for him in 2008.
President Obama has habitually played both sides of many issues–the Afghanistan war, immigration enforcement, domestic energy policy, and, most recently, gay marriage, to name a few. But Obama’s policies in regard to Israel have been constantly cynical and served only to stoke the fires of the longstanding conflict that he pledged to help end as a key selling point in his 2008 presidential bid.
Unfortunately, one million Israelis and 1.7 million Gazans will have to pay the direct price of the increased intensity of the conflict created by Obama’s electioneering. As will American taxpayers, to the tune of $262 million dollars.