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August 27. 2014 9:45AM

Another View - Rick Santorum: When Israel needs our help, we have to be there

ON MAY 14, 1948, the United States of America was the first nation to officially recognize the newly reborn State of Israel. It was morally right and strategically wise that we did so, and we have been blessed as a nation ever since with a true friend in the Middle East.

It happened to be a Democrat, President Harry Truman, who understood the Jewish people’s right and need to return to their ancient homeland to be safe and free, especially in the wake of the Holocaust. To his great credit, Mr. Truman refused to follow the counsel of those in his own administration, even his own secretary of state, who said it was foolish for America to support a strong, safe and free Jewish state.

Yet while it was a Democrat in the White House who set into motion America’s alliance with Israel, it is another Democrat in the White House who has brought U.S.-Israel relations to their lowest point in 66 years.

This great alliance should not be a partisan issue. Indeed, support for Israel on Capitol Hill is one of the few issues that bring both parties together. Yet the President is an outlier, consistently creating new tensions and divisions with Israel, even while she is under attack by a virulent and ruthless enemy.

This should not be. Most Americans see Israel not simply as an ancient nation but a modern miracle, a true partner on many fronts, from manufacturing to agriculture to the development of state-of-the-art weapons systems like the Iron Dome. They also see a vibrant democracy and a real partner in the war with terrorists.

Yet it has become painfully apparent that our current President does not agree.

I came to Israel last week to show solidarity with her people and government, in part because I am embarrassed by the actions of my own government.The White House should never pressure an ally to accept flawed, biased ceasefire proposals in a war with terrorists who are hell-bent on annihilating them.

The U.S. government should never hold back arms from — or micromanage arms transfers to — an ally fighting for her life.

No administration should try to force an ally to divide her own capital city and surrender the sovereignty of that capital to an enemy sworn to obliterate her.

Nor should any administration leak to the media policy or personal disagreements with an ally, especially during war time.

Yet this is exactly what is happening.

The delegation of American business leaders, pastors and journalists I brought to Jerusalem join me in standing with Israel because we see a friend under attack and feeling increasingly alone.While we were there, Hamas fired more than 150 rockets at Israeli civilian population centers, bringing their total rocket attacks to more than 4,000 in the past seven weeks. My colleagues and I were in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening when the Code Red sirens sounded. A rocket was headed for the Holy City and we had to rush into bomb shelters with our Israeli friends. Yet the world repeatedly criticizes and condemns Israel for exercising her right to self-defense.

Imagine if Washington, D.C., or St. Louis or San Diego were under rocket attack. Would we not strike back hard and relentlessly at those firing the rockets? Would we take kindly to foreign leaders who told us to stop defending ourselves even as the terrorists kept shooting at us?

The most moving part of our visit was meeting with the precious parents of Gil’Ad Shaer, one of the teenage boys Hamas kidnapped and murdered in June. As we sat in their home we heard their story and saw their grief. But we also saw their determination not to let the jihadists destroy their country or their hope for the future.

America must stand with such brave souls. After all, Israel’s fight against radical Islam is our fight too. If we do not defeat the terrorists in the Mideast, they will strike America at home.

Our commitment to Israel does not mean we are blind to the pain and challenges the Palestinians in Gaza face. To the contrary, we care deeply about them and seek their freedom from tyranny.

The Palestinians of Gaza absolutely need to be liberated....from the cruel occupation of Hamas. The Palestinians of Gaza need to be set free from Hamas’ reign of terror and barbarity. This should be a major priority of the U.S. government.

Unfortunately, American foreign policy today is in complete disarray. Incompetence reigns in the White House and State Department and has for six years. Our friends no longer trust us. Our enemies no longer fear us. This is a recipe for disaster.

“Leading from behind” is not leadership at all. The President’s steady retreat from the Mideast is creating a dangerous vacuum jihadist forces are moving to fill from Syria to Iraq to Gaza.

We can and must do better. Democrats should start by putting serious pressure on the President to truly and fully support Israel and to stop pressuring her to make bad deals with dangerous foes. Republicans can start by repudiating isolationist voices in our party and those who call for ending all military aid to Israel.

Now is the time to stand unified for Israel.

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Rick Santorum is a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.


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