White House Reporter Tommy Christopher declares: “Elections have consequences, but rarely do they become as evident, as quickly, as they have with regard to the recent violence in and around Gaza.” The Israel-Hamas truce, he writes, has saved lives “and it would not have happened without the United States’ involvement.”
In contrast with President Obama’s performance, Christopher points to Mitt Romney’s statements about the Palestinians in the secretly-recorded video published by Mother Jones in September as evidence “Romney was never up to the job of replacing” Obama. He writes:
These are fine opinions for the loudmouth at your corner bar to hold, but as recent events make clear, they disqualify you from being President of the United States.
With the jury still out on the long-term prospects for the ceasefire (Palestinians launched five rockets at Israeli citizens within hours of its declaration and more Iranian long-range rockets reportedly on their way to Gaza), painting President Obama as the region’s savior would be a sweeping conclusion to say the least.
Let’s take a look at Romney’s key points on the conflict expressed in the tape and compare them with what happened in the past week when Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza fired 1,506 rockets at innocent civilians in southern Israeli communities and decide: Was Mediaite correct in concluding Romney’s just another “loudmouth” whose way-off opinions on the Middle East would indeed disqualify him from being president?
REALITY CHECK: Israel launched its Operation Pillar of Defense only after Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza – with no provocation - targeted southern Israeli communities with more than 100 rockets in just three days. Was “establishing peace” their motivation for launching explosive projectiles at schools, shops and homes? Not likely.
POINT #2: “…the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.” That’s because of the peril for Israel, Romney said, if a Palestinian state were established in the West Bank – a mere nine miles from Tel Aviv, Israel’s financial and industrial center.
REALITY CHECK: During what Hamas called “Operation Shale Stones” in response to Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defense,” the terror group not only launched more than 1,000 rockets at Israel’s southern communities of Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi – where a 25-year-old pregnant mother of three and two of her neighbors were tragically slaughtered – it also managed to strike just south of Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area.
That Palestinian terror groups’ long-range Fajr-5 and M-75 missiles could reach strategic targets in the nation’s capital and financial and military headquarters rattled nerves in Israel. If Palestinians in the West Bank were allowed to similarly arm themselves, Israel would be in danger of having missiles pointed at air traffic around Ben-Gurion International Airport as well as at other strategic assets – gas refineries, electric plants - a virtual knife at its neck.
POINT #3: Romney said: “…the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon and what they did in Gaza. Which is the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel. So Israel, of course, would have to say that can't happen. We've got to keep the Iranians from bringing weaponry into the West Bank…”
REALITY CHECK: Unlike its clandestine nuclear efforts, Iran proudly admits it’s helping terror groups obtain the missiles they need to try to kill Israelis. Just this week, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani said Iran takes pride in providing military assistance to Gaza. Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadhan Abdallah Shalah said it’s “no secret” his group’s weapons come from Iran. So was Romney incorrect in suggesting Iran would want to spread its influence to the West Bank if given the opportunity?
POINT #4: Romney said, "These are problems, and they're very hard to solve, alright? And I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there's just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it's going to remain an unsolved problem. I mean, we look at that in China and Taiwan. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it. And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve. We don't go to war to try and resolve it."
REALITY CHECK: How do you make peace with someone committed to your destruction? Hamas’ military wing this past week boasted to Israel that they “love death more than you love life." Even Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority which rules the West Bank hasn’t always shown its peace-embracing side. The Palestinian Authority gives generous monthly salaries to convicted terrorists serving time in Israel for killing Israelis – the more severe the crime, the higher the salary. Since the U.S. gives aid to the Palestinian Authority, that means the American taxpayer is funding handouts to terrorists. These being but a few of the countless examples of the Palestinians' glorifying terrorism, was it really such a stretch for Romney to conclude the Palestinians don't appear to want a peaceful resolution to the conflict?
POINT #5: Romney said, “pushing on the Israelis to give something up, to get the Palestinians to act, is the worst idea in the world. We have done that time and time and time again. It does not work. So, the only answer is show your strength. Again, American strength, American resolve, as the Palestinians someday reach the point where they want peace more than we're trying to push peace on them—and then it's worth having the discussion. Until then, it's just wishful thinking.”
REALITY CHECK: In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its troops and citizens from the Gaza Strip, handing the entire territory to Palestinian control. It’s a decision many Israelis have come to regret, especially those living near Gaza who face the weekly barrage of incoming rockets: 8,000 have been launched since 2009. Romney simply stated a fact: why push Israel to relinquish more territory when past experience shows that invites only trouble?
As for demonstrating American resolve and strength, as Romney urged, note that Hamas and other terror groups began their merciless rain of rockets on Israeli communities a mere three days after the U.S. election results were announced. Did they perceive an intrinsic American weakness they felt they could exploit?
The point is that Mediaite was quick to conclude that because Obama helped broker the ceasefire last week, many lives have been saved. One might argue conversely that because the Obama administration has not been tougher on post-“Arab Spring” Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has continued to allow passage of military materiel through the underground terrorist smuggling tunnels linking its territory with Gaza, not exactly a life-saving policy. President Mohammed Morsi has also allowed Hamas terrorist leaders to move to Egypt after they abandoned their headquarters in Syria due to the civil unrest there.
So how much credit does Obama deserve for saving lives due to the ceasefire? Hamas’ number two in command Moussa Abu Marzouk gave us one big hint on Saturday, telling the Associated Press there is “no way” his group will stop obtaining and manufacturing weapons.