Would he be good for Israel? This is a question that many Jewish voters have in mind before they punch the chad through the ballot on election day. For Jewish Republican primary voters, the question can be even more pointed given that most republican Jews are also staunchly Zionist. What follows is an outline and extrapolation of how current republican candidates may behave towards Israel once elected. These extrapolations are based on past policy positions, character, and statements the candidate has made in the past.
There is no reason to believe that America’s relationship with Israel would change all that much under a Romney administration. Romney has called out President Obama for what he sees as disrespect towards Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has stated that disagreements would be voiced behind closed doors. As for involvement in the peace process, Romney would probably be no different than Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama on actively trying to pursue a peace agreement by pressuring as has every other president for the past several decades. This assumption is based on the fact that Romney seems to be quite self-interested and would probably enjoy having the title of Middle East Peacemaker under his belt. He would be interventionist, but would be visibly more cordial to Israel’s leadership. Foreign aid would continue, with all strings attached.
The former House Speaker has recently come out with a statement that the Palestinians are not a real people, basing that on the fact that there never was a Palestinian State. While technically true, Gingrich has also embraced Yasser Arafat in the past. Gingrich being quite a hawk on foreign policy, saying that he would support broad eavesdropping authority against American citizens, may hint that he would allow Israel more of a free hand in dealing with its own terrorist threat. Unlike Obama, he would probably show more outward respect for Nationalistic Israeli administrations, though he too would not give up on extracting some sort of grand peace agreement on his watch. Gingrich’s personal character, in terms of his multiple infidelities during the very time he was behind a move to impeach then-President Clinton for the same crimes, moral turpitude that cost him a $300,000 censure by his congressional colleagues in the late 90’s, and general flip flopping over many issues over the decades leaves him unpredictable, however, in how he would actually act once in office on anything. There is virtually no consistency to track. Foreign aid would continue, as would intervention in Israel’s affairs.
Congresswoman Bachmann is clearly a woman with conviction. Unlike Romney or Gingrich, she seems to have a religious love for the Jewish State that borders on zeal. She volunteered on a kibbutz as a young woman, and openly challenged Palestinian leadership over incitement. She would be more friendly towards Israeli governments and would back up, if not initiate herself, an Israeli strike on Iran. This could be very dangerous as Iran would be on guard during a Bachmann Administration being aware of her belligerence, which could make a strike more difficult. Additionally, another American-led war against another Islamic republic could possibly bankrupt the country which is already buckling under a $15 trillion debt burden. An American financial collapse could be dangerous for Israel as well. Her views on the peace process itself are slightly less clear. Whether she would be against land for peace or for it is something she hasn’t said explicitly. Foreign aid would continue. She would be a staunch ally of Israel. Such support could arguably prove to be dangerous, though most would say beneficial. All in all, Bachmann would support Israel unconditionally, though the effect of such support is unclear.
With Perry, it is difficult to tell much. In one debate he said that all foreign aid would be cut to zero for starters, but at the Republican Jewish Coalition debate, he said it would be increased. Perry probably says whatever he thinks will fit his audience, which translates to not rocking the boat too much with regard to Israel. The American/Israeli relationship would most likely stay the same as it has been for decades.
Congressman Ron Paul is either the most anti-Israel candidate, or the most pro-Israel candidate of all Republican candidates with a shot at the nomination. It is in fact difficult to define Paul as either pro or anti-Israel at all since he wants to withdraw from the role of peacemaker in the region and generally pull all American money out of the Middle East. He would cease giving Israel any foreign aid, but then again he would cease giving Israel’s enemies any foreign aid. He has openly said that he would not stop any Israeli campaign against Iran, but he would not back one up unilaterally as President either unless Congress voted to do so, which is in fact the Constitutional position, since Presidents have no authority to use the armed forces without Congressional approval. Paul would not broker any sort of peace effort, nor would he encourage either side to talk to the other. He would genuinely disengage from the entire region and stop telling any side what to do. Paul has openly stated that America should be “best friends” with Israel by engaging in trade and sharing technology and business ventures. Paul would also withdraw from the UN immediately as he sees it as unconstitutional, which would probably lead to an Israeli withdrawal some time later as well. Under a Paul administration, the America/Israel relationship would radically change. It is difficult to tell exactly how, but Israel would certainly have more freedom to act in its own interest rather than in America’s interest.