During a presidential campaign, candidates are sometimes prone to make comments that stretch reality to make themselves look stronger or, perhaps, to make an opponent look weaker. Unfortunately, some candidates seem so intent to promote themselves in front of potential donors and supporters that they will say anything at all - regardless of how remarkably and demonstratively false it might be. It's this latter category that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finds himself in today.
During his appearance at Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's "Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala," the latest step in what some reporters have referred to as the "Adelson primary," Sen. Cruz told a Haaretz reporter that President Obama's administration is "the most antagonistic to Israel in history." Referring to President Obama's address at Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington last week, Cruz stated that:
“I think it is the height of chutzpah for Obama to lecture the nation of Israel on Jewish values. We should be standing proudly with Israel against the face of evil that is represented by radical Islamic terrorism. Whether it is Hamas or Hezbollah, ISIS or Al-Qaida, whether it is Boko Haram or the Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran – they are all different strains of the same murderous evil that Israel and America should stand united against.”
The senator further told Haaretz "that the United States should not take a position on the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," a position that would put him at odds with every single president since Israel's founding. It would also seem to put him at odds with himself, given his stance that the United States must stand by Israel, which is inherently a position itself.
Sen. Cruz's attack on President Obama is simply wrong. Today, it was announced that U.S. defense aid to Israel will increase in 2017, reportedly as high as $4 billion. Just last week, the administration approved a $1.8 billion deal providing precision guided munitions and bombs to Israel. Compare this to President George W. Bush's administration, which rejected "a secret request by Israel [in 2008] ... for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex." Since Sen. Cruz has called on the United States to stand with Israel against terrorism, perhaps he would be surprised to find it is President Obama who has taken strong actions to do so, not President Bush.
In fact, President Obama has provided record-high levels of foreign aid to Israel over the course of his administration. He has stood firm on the fact that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state. During last summer's conflict in Gaza, the president strongly reaffirmed his "strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself." And he has led the fight to defend Israel's legitimacy on the world stage, both at the United Nations and elsewhere.
When Sen. Cruz was referring to "antagonistic" administrations towards Israel, perhaps he was referring to the Bush administration's "frosty reception" towards the Iron Dome missile system (the same one that President Obama has provided massive support for). Or, perhaps he was referring to the first President Bush, who brought on a Secretary of State who famously remarked "F*** the Jews." Or, maybe he was referring to President Ronald Reagan, who embargoed military aid to Israel and supported U.N. resolutions condemning the Jewish state.
Of course, Sen. Cruz is wrong about quite a few things. He also stated that he "'hoped' more Jewish Americans would vote for Republicans in the upcoming 2016 elections," an old canard that will, as it does every election cycle, be proven to be nothing more than fairy dust.