UPDATE 10 am Israel time Thursday:
115 missiles fired by Palestinian Hamas terrorists in Gaza from 6 am yesterday right up until 12:00 am this morning . . . And why has the shooting stopped for the moment? Because today is “Eid al-Adha” (The Festival of Sacrifice), and every Hamasnik wants to celebrate with visits to family and friends and the killing of a lamb.
So for a few hours, the 1,000,000 people in southern Israel living in bomb shelters or fortified places can come out of their holes. Not because the Israeli government will protect them and not because the IDF will protect them, but because Hamas has decided to take a holiday break.
Once the holiday is over–or perhaps even sooner–the whole cycle will repeat itself as it always does. Except that the next round will be even more violent because Hamas now knows that PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have publicly decided and announced that there can be no assault on Hamas before the January elections in Israel.
It is somewhat ironic in light of your humble servant’s visit to Sderot last week and the massive missile attack on Sderot yesterday that Sderot figured prominently in the third and final U.S. presidential debate on Monday night.
According to most pundits, it was a moment of supreme triumph for Barack Obama as he “scored against” Romney with references to his (Obama’s) trips to Sderot and Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum).
After Romney had mentioned that Obama had taken an “apology tour” around the Middle East, he correctly concluded by pointing out that Obama had “skipped Israel”. Obama retorted by referring to his trip to Israel in 2008 before he became president:
” . . . I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself [of] the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable. I went down to the border town of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me there where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms. And I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids. Which is why as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles. So that’s how I’ve used my travels . . . ”
To which Romney only showed a “tight-lipped smile” and did not respond.
The natural inference was that Obama had carried the moment by showing himself to be the better man and leaving Romney speechless.
Yet that inference could only be made by those who do not know any better.
That inference could only have been made by people who do not know that:
- Romney has visited Israel at least 4 times in recent years, including a completely non-publicized personal trip with his family
- Romney has been to every section of Israel including the northern, eastern, and southern borders and all along the security barrier
- Romney has visited Yad Vashem at least once (at length in 2007 at which time he participated in a memorial ceremony there)
- Romney has visited Sderot–and other badly hit communities in the region-and met with numerous local families and security officials to better understand the threat emanating from Hamas in Gaza
Romney did not respond to Obama simply because he refuses to use Sderot and Yad Vashem as campaign fodder or a political football–a fact that is appreciated and understood by the citizens of Sderot.
On Tuesday, the day after the debate, the leftist Israeli media went to Sderot to hear its residents sing the praises of Obama.
What they got instead was an earful of criticism. One resident who met with Obama in 2008, Pinhas Amar, had this to say: “This isn’t the first time that Obama is using his visit here as a winning card. I am disappointed in his attitude towards Israel and his failure to keep his promises. In my opinion he doesn’t really like Israel. He only visited here to get the Jewish vote.”
The man who heads all of the security for Sderot, Koby Harush, had this to say: “The reference to the trip [to Sderot] was a political statement and nothing more . . . The reality is that Sderot and the entire region come under fire every day. Someone has to remind him [Obama] that the rocket fire continued since his visit.” *
Finally when the Romney campaign was contacted by news organizations on Tuesday wondering why Romney had not pointed out all of his visits to Israel (note that above I wrote “at least” four visits to Israel), all the “campaign” would say was that Romney’s “deep commitment for and many experiences in Israel are well known.”
What was Romney probably thinking as he sat there in the debate listening to Obama crow about Sderot and Yad Vashem? He was probably wondering how anyone, especially the President of the United States, could be so crass as to make references like those for political gain.
*Quotations taken from Ynet News
One final note: Your humble servant has grown tired of Obama’s taking credit for being responsible for Israel’s development and deployment of the Iron Dome system (which doesn’t protect Sderot anyway).
In the first place the Iron Dome system was entirely developed in Israel by the Israeli companies Elta, mPrest Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The project was begun in 2005 when George Bush was president of the U.S. The first two Iron Dome batteries were completely funded by Israel.
Additional funding of $205 million to partially fund eight more batteries was provided by the Republican led U.S. House of Representatives on May 20, 2010 on a 410-4 vote (The U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act). This Act was subsequently signed by President Obama.
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