Pro-Israel, Pro-Obama

Steve Sheffey, a Democrat in a blue state, won't heed a suggestion to boycott Obama over Israel.

I’m one blue-state Democrat who will not heed Gil Troy’s suggestion that we protest President Obama’s policies on Israel by refusing to vote for him. Obama will carry Illinois with or without my vote, but if Obama wins in the Electoral College but loses the popular vote, that will be one more Republican excuse to continue the politics of rejection and obstruction that they’ve honed to an art form during the past four years. The boycott Troy advocates is a dangerous game.

Obama promised in 2008 to reach across the aisle and put partisanship aside. Many of us wanted him to blame the Republicans, to point out that the mess he inherited was the result of Republican policies. He didn’t. We wouldn’t have been surprised if we had paid more attention during the campaign.

Four years later, we’ve learned that reaching out to Republicans doesn’t work. Americans say they want bipartisanship, but what they respect is the truth and leaders who tell it. Compare the first debate to the last two. Obama won all three on substance. But the public responded much more favorably to Obama in the last two debates when he was more confrontational. My hope is after he is reelected, Obama will talk to the Republican Congress the same way he talked to Mitt Romney in those last two debates. He can do that regardless of the popular vote, but he can better rally popular opinion if he wins the popular vote and deprives Republicans of the argument that the majority of Americans support them. Obama needs a mandate.

Troy is also wrong about Israel. He echoes the Republicans in arguing that the first two years of the Obama administration reveal a pro-Palestinian worldview that will reemerge after November. Obama never equated the Israeli and Palestinian causes. He noted that both sides have suffered, just as George W. Bush did, but he never suggested a moral equivalence. Israel agreed to a 10-month settlement freeze to test the Palestinian commitment to the peace process. The Palestinians failed the test. And Iran will continue to be the focus in Obama’s second term.

The best guide to what President Obama will do in his second term is what he did in his first term: He called for the removal of Syrian President al-Assad, eliminated Osama bin Laden, did more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program, restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration, secretly sold Israel the bunker-busting bombs it requested but did not receive during the Bush administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted the the Durban II and Durban III conferences, took U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the U.N. against a one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

That’s why I will proudly vote to reelect President Obama.