Michael Goldstein voted for Obama in 2008. He is featured in this Republican Jewish Coalition ad explaining why he will be voting for Romney in 2012.
Emily Hauser posted a column at Open Zion gently questioning Michael's decision to support Romney. Goldstein responded here (abridged version) and here (original, full version). Please read Emily and Michael's posts before reading my response to Michael.
Dear Michael Goldstein,
I know you thought long and hard about your decision to switch your vote to Romney. I hope that your decision is not chiseled in stone and that you will switch again if presented with new insights. I believe Romney's election will increase the likelihood of war in the Middle East.. a war that will ultimately lead to Israel's destruction. Even if Iran were to magically disappear along with its nuclear threat, Romney's uncritical and automatic support of Israel could lead to its destruction, just as those who enable a junkie to continue his drug abuse contribute to the junkie's demise.
Before I lay out the reason why I say that, I want to clear up one red herring. Benjamin Netanyahu stated recently that all options in dealing with Iran were on the table. That is simply wrong. Israel is likely to drag us into a war with Iran over Iran's nuclear program because it isn't exploring all possible options. Now, I agree with Netanyahu that Iran must be prevented from building a nuclear weapon, and if war is the only way to do so, then so be it. But there is one option that Israel HASN'T tried--Israel has not put ITS nuclear weapons on the table. Israel should agree to subject its program to the same IAEA inspections that it wants Iran to agree to. Israel should also make a token gesture towards the goal of making the Middle East a nuclear weapons free zone by dismantling 5% of its warheads. Iran is likely to be much more ready to give up its program if it can get something for it in return. My plan is too long to go into here, but read this post for more details. If implemented, it could resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, lead to at least a partial solution to the problem of the Palestinian Right of Return, and set the table for Iranian recognition of Israel's right to exist.
Now that this red herring has been dealt with, I'll explain why Romney's victory will increase the likelihood of war and Israel's ultimate destruction. For some background information, I ask you to first read settler leader Dani Dayan's New York Times OpEd piece where he calls for Israel to annex the West Bank.
Dayan does not say whether the Palestinians living in the West Bank will be given voting rights and made equal citizens in an expanded Israel. If they aren't given the right to vote then Israel will officially become an apartheid state.
Now, read this Haaretz OpEd piece by Ron Pundak, co-chairman of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum. He points out that even if Israel doesn't formally annex the West Bank, Netanyahu's policies of encouraging settlements in Area C may well make a two-state solution impossible.
What are the alternatives to a two state solution? A one state solution in which the Jewish vote is so diluted that Israel may one day lose its Jewish character? A one state apartheid solution in which much of its Arab residents are denied citizenship and the right to vote? A state of permanent semi-war footing between Israel and its neighbors?
The balance of power is now in Israel's favor should it decide to Annex the West Bank. The Arab/Muslim world is weak and cannot do anything about it now. But only a fool would expect the situation to last.
If the Palestinians in the West Bank are not given the right to vote then they will revolt against Israel at every opportunity they can find. There will be no end to the unrest unless Israel crushes the revolt ruthlessly. The more ruthless Israel is in crushing the revolt, the more it will inflame in the Muslim world (and much of the rest of the world as well). Even IF the Arabs in the West Bank are given full citizenship with voting rights, there is still no guarantee that they will become happy loyal citizens of Israel. They might still harbor grievances and long for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
And how will these grievances play out in the rest of the world? Many members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood want to break Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. They are looking for a reason, any reason, to call the whole thing off. Continued expansion, and especially annexation, would give them an excuse on a silver platter.
How will Israel's annexation of the West Bank affect the government of Saudi Arabia? Will they adopt a hard-line stance against Israel in order to avoid outrage on the streets at their passivity? If they don't adopt a hard-line towards Israel, could this provide the spark needed for a widespread popular uprising against the government? Could the Saudi regime be swept away in the conflagration and be replaced by one that is more hostile to Israel and the West? If so, then what will this do to gas prices and the economy? Even if Mitt Romney has a better plan for the U.S. economy than Obama does, will missteps in Israel torpedo his plan?
Syria is in no position to join an attack against Israel now, but who knows what the situation will be like in two or three years? No matter who is in power, annexation is going to inflame the streets of not just Syria, but Jordan and the entire Muslim world.
And you can bet China and Russia will be happy to sell Israel's neighbors weapons they can use to attack her.
So... Israel may face an uprising on the West Bank at the same time it is attacked on multiple fronts. And just how loyal will Israel's Arab citizens, who constitute roughly 20% of its population, be?
Finally, consider how the U.S. will react if Israel annexes the West Bank without giving its Arab population full citizenship rights. Are we willing to go to war to defend Israel's right to be an apartheid state? How will we pay for this war, given our current economic situation? And if we don't come to Israel's defense then how will Israel survive?
There is one more thing you should consider: If we do go to war on Israel's behalf--a war in which it is likely to be just the U.S. and Israel against most of the rest of the world--and if we lose many soldiers, then expect a backlash against the Jews in the U.S.
This is why we need a president who will forcefully speak out against further Israeli expansion. This is why we need a president who will publicly say to Israel, "If you annex the West Bank then you are on your own. Expect no help from us." Ignoring Israel's expansion activity is equivalent to ignoring a drug addict's addiction while it is slowly killing him. Vigorously opposing further settlement expansion is not being anti-Israel. Vigorously opposing further settlement expansion is called tough love.
Who is more likely to show this tough love to Israel, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? Obama has so far been a disappointment. He started out well by trying to get the Israelis to freeze their settlements, but when Netanyahu and his supporters in AIPAC resisted, Obama folded like an Origami master on steroids.
Romney, on the other hand, refuses to criticize Israeli settlements. "My view," said Romney, " is that the United States' role is to stand by our ally, to show not a dime's worth of distance diplomatically between us and Israel, to work to bring the parties together and to see progress." Any issues we have with the settlements, he insists, should only be spoken of privately between the President and Israeli leaders.
Since Romney won't discuss his position on the settlements, we can only use circumstantial evidence to guess what he'll be telling the Israeli's. Here are the clues he's left so far.
- He did not stop in Ramallah to visit the leaders of the Palestinian Authority after visiting Israel.
- He insulted the Palestinians by implying that their culture was inferior to the Israelis.
- Romney told Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room that he considered Jerusalem to be Israel's capital. This is a break with all previous Presidents who have refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He revealed how clueless he was about the Israeli situation when he revealed that he didn't even know that the Israeli's have long been asking us to move our embassy to Jerusalem.
- Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was one of the more high profile attendees at Romney's fundraiser in Israel. Adelson strongly opposes a two state solution and believes that Israel should keep control of the West Bank. He has vowed to spend $100 million to defeat Obama and he once withdrew support from AIPAC because he thought they were too soft on the Palestinians.
Given these clues, it is hard to imagine Romney criticizing anything that Israel does, even in private. If anything, a Romney victory will be interpreted by the settlers as a green light to build even faster. There is no guarantee that Obama will be able to prevent a war by pressuring the Israelis to halt or slow down their expansion. But at least he is aware that settlements are a problem. Romney with all his money, on the other hand, couldn't buy a clue.