Why the Candidates Need to Stop Talking about Israel So Much

[Slate] Shmuel Rosner - The presidential candidates are constantly asked about Israel by an American media that is sometimes obsessed with that country. But the constant mentions of Israel in every election cycle do little to serve Israel's interest. They create the impression that Israel's problems, and especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, should be the highest priority for an American administration. They make Americans think that important and costly governmental actions, like the war in Iraq, were done for the sake of Israel, thus turning Israel into a nuisance rather than an asset. They mislead voters to think that dilemmas facing the next president - Iran is the most notorious example - would disappear had it not been for Israel. But reality is different. Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as important as it might be to Israelis and Palestinians, will not be a strategic life-changing event for the U.S. Advisers to both candidates have recognized that. But Iran is where the most serious damage was done by the repeated mentioning, by both campaigns, of Israel as the country threatened by Iran's nuclear program. Iran poses a challenge to the United States and its interests in the Middle East, it is a threat to governments and leaders in the Arab world, it is endangering vital energy resources, and it supports terror not just against Israel. Yes, in their debates, both McCain and Obama also mentioned some of the other reasons for which a nuclear Iran will be more than just a nuisance, but they both started with Israel. Can one blame an American living under the false impression that Israel is the main, perhaps only reason for which to oppose Iranian expansionism?

2008-10-10 01:00:00

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