Tuesday, June 14, 2011

GOP candidates and Israel, Part 1

With the CNN New Hampshire debate behind us, the Republican primary season has begun. It's a better time than ever to get a refresher on various candidates' stances on Israel. On the whole, the GOP camp is replete with long-time as well as new friends of Israel. Keep in mind that a candidate's stance on Israel, besides having critical importance in itself, is an indicator of the moral clarity that characterizes their view of geopolitics and their capacity to approach the New Middle East with vision and purpose, rather than reactionism and opportunism.

Rosner's Domain recently compared the results of an NYT poll of GOP voters with the Jerusalem Post's Israel Factor index to rank the Republican candidates' stance on Israel:

  NYT GOP voters %     The Israel Factor (1-10)  

Sarah Palin 51 4.62
Newt Gingrich 42 7.37
Mitt Romney 42 7.12
Michele Bachmann215.18
Rick Santorum195.71
Tim Pawlenty206.28
Haley Barbour125.57
Mitch Daniels95.66
Jon Huntsman55.8

Former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin is a controversial figure in American politics, and her candidacy could challenge that of Bachmann's (and vice versa). Still Palin has been a loyal friend of Israel from Day 1 and has provided crucial and widely-publicized critique of the Obama administration's policy on Israel during otherwise bumpy times in American-Israel relations. In May Palin summed up her views on Israel in the Fox News interview:

Michele Bachmann is a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota. Bachmann lived on a kibbutz in 1974 at the age of 18 and has been in Israel four times since she was elected to Congress in 2006. The following is an excerpt from an answer she gave to a question the relationship between U.S. and Israel's security at the Republican Jewish Coalition (via Israpundit):
I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.
Right now in my own private Bible time, I am working through Isaiah . . . and there is continually a coming back to what God gave to Israel initially, which was the Torah and the Ten Commandments, and I have a wonderful quote from John Adams that if you will indulge me [while I find it] . . . [from his February 16, 1809 letter to François Adriaan van der Kemp]:
I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.
. . . So that is a very long way to answer your question, but I believe that an explicit statement from us about our support for Israel as tied to American security, we would do well to do that.
Mitt Romney, who will be competing a second time in the Republican primary after losing to McCain last year, is now the leading candidate of the Republican pack. I heard Romney speak at an AIPAC plenary in L.A. two years ago, and he was as strong as one can get on Israel. Last month Romney harshly criticized Obama for dictating to its ally what the terms of a future agreement will be, rather than premising negotiations on Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state.

Jon Hunstman, the (hunky) former governor of Utah governor, and now wrapping up his post as Obama's Ambassador to China, is expected to announce his candidacy later this week. Hunstman has an impressive resume both in academia and politics, including top positions in trade and commerce in the Bush administration and six honorary doctorates. In 2009 Huntsman visited Israel and shared his admiration of Israel with the America-Israel Friendship League, addressing economic and financial bonds between the U.S. and Israel:

That's all for Part 1. Next time we'll look at Pawlenty, Barbour, Gingrich and Santroum. In the meantime, who knows which two Republican candidates have a combined total of 25 adopted children?

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