Breitbart News editor-in-chief Joel Pollak and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz faced off this week in the pages of the Jerusalem Post over whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is the better choice for pro-Israel voters. Their debate reprises an exchange they had in the Post during the 2008 election.
Here is an excerpt of Dershowitz’s defense of Obama (full text here):
The Obama administration has worked hand in hand with Israel in developing the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow defense capabilities. It has approved the sale of F-35 stealth fighters to the Israel Air Force. It has conducted large, joint military exercises and has coordinated intelligence operations with Israeli secret services. That is why I was not surprised when Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he could “hardly remember a better period of…American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding… than what he have right now.”
The greatest threat Israel faces today is from Iran, a nation ruled by anti-Semitic, Holocaust denying, terrorist-inciting Mullahs, who would sacrifice millions of their own citizens to destroy “the little Satan,” which is how they refer to Israel (the United States being “the big Satan.”)
There are some, in both parties, who wrongly believe that a policy of “containment” – that is, allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons but containing their use by the threat of tit-for-tat reprisal – is the right strategy. President Obama has explicitly rejected this benighted approach and has instead announced that his policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it takes military action to do so. In the meantime, he has ratcheted up sanctions and diplomatic pressure while explicitly keeping the military option on the table.
Several months ago, President Obama invited me to the Oval Office to discuss his Iran strategy. He looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t bluff.” His actions with regard to Osama bin Laden and the Somali pirates who endangered Americans and threatened to kill them demonstrated his willingness to use force when warranted. So does his increased use of drones to target terrorists who are beyond the reach of capture. I believe President Obama when he says that Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons on his watch.
Here is an excerpt of Pollak’s response, in favor of Romney (full article here):
President Obama began in 2009 by making it clear, publicly, that he saw Israel as the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. He “shut the door” on natural growth in Israeli settlements, creating a new excuse Palestinians could use to avoid talks. He appeared “to link American efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons to Israeli actions with regard to the settlements.” (I am quoting Dershowitz’s own criticisms from 2009).
Instead of confronting Iran, Obama has pursued a policy of sanctions that has failed to set back Iran’s nuclear program “one iota,” according to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Even those loophole-filled sanctions were too much for Obama, who had to be dragged into supporting them – raising concerns that Obama could be the US’s own “Neville Chamberlain” (I am quoting Dershowitz’s own criticism from 2010).
Worst of all were the public attacks by the Obama administration against construction in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. And who can forget when Obama said that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 borders? President Obama “hurt the peace process gravely,” pushing the two sides “further away than ever before from negotiated peace.” (I am quoting Dershowitz again, from 2011.) IN 2008, Dershowitz based his support for Obama on the premise that “The election of Barack Obama – a liberal supporter of Israel – will enhance [the] weakening position among wavering liberals.” That has not happened – partly because the Obama administration has itself used radical proxy groups, such as J Street and Media Matters, to undermine support for Israel.
In February 2012, Dershowitz said that he “could not vote for any candidate who had anything to do with Media Matters.” Has Obama disowned them? Dershowitz gives Obama credit for opposing the Goldstone Report – a slander the administration was actually slow to condemn, just as it was slow to boycott the Durban racism conferences.
He also commends the president for security cooperation with Israel – cooperation that already had bipartisan support, and which has been undermined by the administration’s leaks about Israeli military plans against Iran.
Even by Obama’s own standards, he has been a failure, breaking his promise to AIPAC in 2008 that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Photo credit (2009): Karen G. Heredia, Harvard Crimson