Israel deserves better treatment from the US – and Mitt Romney's the man to give it.
That's what the Republican presidential candidate told conservative Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, in an interview published ahead of Romney's arrival in Jerusalem later today.
"I would treat Israel like the friend and ally it is," Romney is quoted as saying.
"I cannot imagine going to the United Nations, as [President Barack] Obama did, and criticizing Israel in front of the world," he said. "You don't criticize your allies in public to achieve the applause of your foes."
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While that statement echoes what he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Reno, Nev., earlier this week, Romney was also more specific about who he perceived as "foes."
He namechecked several of the Israeli government's least favorite people: Iran ("a threat to America and to the world" if they go nuclear); Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah (terrorist organizations waging "violent jihad"); Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ("he should be replaced"); and the newly established Islamist governments in other countries in the Middle East.
"Clearly we're disappointed in seeing Tunisia and Morocco elect Islamist governments," Romney said. "We're very concerned in seeing the new leader in Egypt as an Islamist leader. It is our hope to move these nations toward a more modern view of the world and to not present a threat to their neighbors and to the other nations of the world."
The upheaval of the Arab Spring could have been avoided, Romney argued, if Obama had not abandoned George W. Bush's "freedom agenda," which – Romney claimed – would have brought reform to the Middle East "in a more peaceful manner."
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As Romney begins his carefully calculated trip to Israel, Obama has managed to take some of the wind from his rival's sails by signing a new law that increases US military cooperation with Israel, Reuters reported. Obama also took the occasion to announce $70 million of funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" short-range rocket shield.
The right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a Jewish-American businessman and donor to the Republicans and the Romney campaign. Adelson has vowed to spend $100 million to defeat Obama in November, according to ABC News.