Why Jews Should Still Vote for President Obama

Monday, 06 Aug 2012 06:09 PM

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I've been asked by the Obama campaign to get involved in the Florida campaign. Of course, I will do that and I expect to be in Florida campaigning on the president's behalf after Labor Day.

In an effort to establish his qualifications to be president of the
United States, former Gov. Mitt Romney recently visited England, Israel, and Poland. There is now an added interest in the views of the presidential candidates on Israel.

romneys-in-poland-meet-with-jewish-people.jpg
Former Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann visit the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw.
(Getty Images)
Last year, you may recall that I criticized President Barack Obama after he urged the Palestinian Authority and Israel to resume negotiations and stated that Israel should use the 1967 boundaries, with mutually agreed land swaps, as a template for drawing the lines for the new Palestinian state.

Wanting to send the president a message of opposition to this
stance, I supported a Republican candidate in a special congressional election, and he won.

I am now often asked why I am supporting the president's re-election.

In his first presidential race, President Obama received 74 percent of the Jewish vote. Last year, it looked like those numbers might be significantly lower in 2012. However, as last Friday's Gallup poll illustrates, the president's numbers in the Jewish community have almost completely rebounded. Maybe other Jewish voters have seen in the president what I have seen.

I believe the president heard the Jewish community's concerns. His actions, certainly for me, verify that fact. His speech at the United Nations supporting Israel was the strongest statement of its kind ever made by a U.S. president.

Even more important was his personal, and successful, involvement at the Security Council preventing the Palestinian Authority from gaining entry to the United Nations as an independent state.

That action was clear, unambiguous evidence of his commitment to the Jewish state. His urging of the Israelis and Palestinians to engage in negotiations without preconditions was extremely important and his reiterating and demanding that Hamas give up violence, recognize the legality of the state of Israel and all prior agreements, showed real leadership.

The statement of Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the
cooperation between Israel and the U.S. on intelligence gathering and military supplies provided by the U.S. to Israel was the best ever in the long relationship between the two countries. That again was clear evidence of President Obama's commitment to Israel.

Further, President Obama's leading the U.N. Security Council to take much harsher sanctions against Iran and make clear that the U.S. was committed to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb — not simply to a policy of containment — made clear to me his absolute commitment to the security and defense of the State of Israel.

I have no intention of attacking Governor Romney or the Republican Party for their support of the state of Israel. In fact, I commend them for it. I believe both presidential candidates and parties are committed to standing with Israel if it were to be attacked by Iran.

As a Jew and a supporter of that state, I am grateful.

My commitment to Israel is based on the history of how the world stood by when Hitler and the Nazis waged war against the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. No country stepped forward when Hitler offered to allow them to leave if a country would accept them.

If Israel had existed at that time, it would have taken in every Jew permitted to leave Germany and the rest of Europe where ultimately six million were murdered.

The reason Jews like myself are dedicated to the U.S., a country that has given Jews so much since the days of George Washington, and now support the Democratic Party and the re-election of President Obama is the huge difference in philosophy that the contending candidates and parties have expressed on domestic issues.

Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, given the opportunity, would end the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare. If they could, they would privatize both and destroy the existing, unshakable contract between the U.S. government and the beneficiaries of these programs.

Instead, they would create a voucher system and private accounts on Wall Street for each Social Security beneficiary. They would give Medicare beneficiaries a voucher and then tell them to negotiate with insurance companies to see how much more they'd have to pay. Medicaid beneficiaries would no longer be protected by the U.S. government.

Instead, the program would be turned into a block grant with states each separately deciding on the limits of the program.

So, I urge Jewish voters who support a U.S. policy of continuing and strengthening the special status Israel has as an ally with the U.S. as well as domestic programs here in the U.S. that protect the elderly, protect the rights of women, protect the rights of minorities, require the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, require responsible regulation of the banks and Wall Street, and protect the middle class, to vote for the re-election of President Obama.

They should also support the candidates of the Democratic Party so as to give President Obama a filibuster free Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives to continue and expand the social programs protecting all, especially the children and the poor.

If you trust my judgment, vote for President Obama. I look forward to voting for our president in November and I hope you will too.

Edward Koch was the 105th mayor of New York City for three terms, from 1978 to 1989. He previously served for nine years as a congressman. Read more reports from Ed Koch — Click Here Now.

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