By the time you read this, you may have voted, absentee or otherwise. Maybe you’ve made up your mind and don’t need someone to change it. Regardless of who wins, we as Jews and Americans – wherever you put the emphasis – have a lot at stake and have to make our feelings heard. No party, no politician, no President should take us for granted.
First, there’s the Israel issue. We need a President who really does have Israel’s back – real support for the only democracy in the Middle East as it struggles with 21 hostile Islamic nations that surround it. There’s no excuse for “tough love” when the region is so unstable, nuclear weapons are in the hands of someone not afraid to use them and the avowed purpose of many of Israel’s enemies is to wipe our spiritual homeland off the map.
It may have seemed prudent to bring all sides to the negotiating table and make them think they have moral equivalency, but, according to some sources, it may have emboldened Islamic nations. (See our cover story on page 32.) They have to want to negotiate, to recognize Israel, to be real partners in bringing about peace and stability in the region. If not, they have no right to be treated as partners by the U.S. or Israel. The U.S. government has to be clear that it will not condone terrorism – period.
Do the Palestinians want a state? When the streets of Sderot are as safe as the streets of Irvine, we can talk about it. Does Ahmadinejad want to be assured that Israel or the U.S. will not attack Iran? When he turns off the centrifuges that are purifying the uranium to make bombs and when he stops bashing Zionists, we can discuss it. Israel’s safety and security are at stake, and there can be no concessions of territory or lifting of sanctions until we are assured that the “other side” understands the rules of engagement.
Speaking of Ahmadinejad, I recall that he accused the U.S. of “bullying” him. I wish that were true. I want to see our President as the leader of a country that commands worldwide respect as the most dominant superpower, one that sets the tone for moral integrity, fiscal strength and technological superiority. I want to see the U.S. putting its money and other resources into countries that provide fundamental human rights and refusing to give aid to countries that abuse women and minorities.
To facilitate that kind of approach, we need to be less dependent on overseas oil supplies. We have to use our technology to provide alternative energy sources or to tap into our own with minimal effect on the ecosystem, but, in any case, we have to act. Ridiculous gasoline prices are making us subservient to other countries while ruining the American economy and compromising everyone’s standard of living.
Energy independence brings me to my next point – jobs. Perhaps one can lead to the other. Our President has to put Americans to work in much larger numbers than in the years since the recession. It is unacceptable to have double-digit unemployment (not counting part-time jobs). It is unthinkable that students (and their families) spend a fortune for a college education and then end up unemployed or underemployed.
We also have to find a way to get this country out of debt. We cannot let our as-yet-unborn grandchildren and great grandchildren carry the burden of our failure to stimulate the economy or of our zeal to create government programs that are too big to be workable, and we cannot be beholden to other countries. That is simply not the American way.
We want our President to have real respect for the common man and woman in the U.S. and for the people in the only democracy in the Middle East, a place whose capital is spelled “J-e-r-u-s-a-l-e-m.” We can make it happen with our votes, our voices and our dollars.
By remaining vigilant, we can stand up for Jewish values and interests and American policies that support them. When the campaigning is over, the real work begins – and it begins with each one of us.