Israel is again facing a very dangerous and unstable time. The Arab spring has turned into an Arab nightmare of Muslim extremism, and the spread of dangerous weapons among strengthened terrorist groups. Israel cannot afford to have a reluctant U.S. president, like Barak Obama, who will not be there when Israel needs saving or unquestioned and immediate support. Only a president who appreciates the Israeli-US alliance and values Israel as the most important U.S. ally in the Middle East will not use the upcoming danger as a bargaining chip to weaken her further.
By the time you read this, the Iowa caucus and its Republican winner will be old news. On the national scene, the record shows that both leading Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, appreciate Israel as an ally and both will be better for Israel than Barack Obama.
Israel has always lived in a very hostile neighborhood but in the aftermath of the unprecedented regional shakeups of the last year, Israel is facing the biggest danger and risk to its survival since 1973.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist group and the more radical Islamists known as Salafists, took about 70 percent of the vote in the first two rounds of the parliamentary elections.
The long term danger to Israel is that the peace treaty with Israel will be revised or canceled and that a war with Egypt will break out. In the short term, the danger is from terrorist attacks. After the fall of Mubarak, the Egyptian army has been too preoccupied to stop the weapons smuggling and flow of terrorists to Hamas-controlled Gaza, and to Egypt’s Sinai which borders Israel.
As a result, Al Qaeda and other Jihadists have strengthened their hold in chaotic Sinai and they and Hamas have been able to import advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets and missiles that were looted from civil war ravaged countries such as Libya and Yemen. Consequently, Hamas has amassed more than 10,000 rockets in its arsenal including some that can reach the outskirts of Tel Aviv and portable, shoulder fired, anti- aircraft missiles called Manpads which can shoot down a civilian passenger plane.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah, the Iranian backed terrorist group, possess more than 60,000 rockets which can reach all major populations centers in Israel. In the chaos of the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah reportedly has been moving heavy weapons from Syria into Lebanon. As one well informed observer of the militia stated “There is so much stuff coming across the border, Hezbollah does know where to put it.”
Syria possesses the region’s largest known supply of chemical and biological weapons and more than 1,000 scud ballistic missiles and warheads. In the chaos of the likely collapse of the Assad regime, many of those can end up in the hands of terrorist groups.
In Morocco and Tunisia the Islamists have won recent elections, and many Libyan and Yemenite rebel leaders are aligned with Al-Qaida. While U.S. officials warn that Iran will have a nuclear weapon within one year, if not less, Turkey, which is led by an Islamist party, has downgraded its long term military and diplomatic relations with Israel.
Finally, the recent pull out of American troops from Iraq and their scheduled departure from Afghanistan will leave Israel alone and isolated in the Middle East as well as encircled by those who intend to destroy her. Israel cannot afford to have a president who for the last three years has tried to create a new alliance with the Muslim world by distancing itself from Israel and who did not hesitate to abandon another ally like Mubarak.
In contrast, both Romney and Gingrich have made it clear that the United States should be willing to stand by its allies and both have criticized Obama’s ambivalence toward Israel. Both have repeatedly pledged to bolster and repair the U.S.-Israel alliance. Romney’s statement that “Our friends, like Israel, should never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need,” and Gingrich‘s political courage to state the truth that the Palestinians are “invented people,” are the perfect responses to Obama’s Muslim outreach.
Now the Republicans must be careful in making sure in the upcoming presidential primaries that they will nominate the candidate who has the best chance to beat Obama.