The U.S. presidential elections are around the corner. We have now entered the final leg – the last 100 days – of the campaign and the candidates are working overtime to win over voters, including U.S. Jews. President Barack Obama, who time and again has turned a cold shoulder toward Israel and adopted a pro-Palestinian posture, is running against the Republicans' Mitt Romney, who has repeatedly communicated his pro-Israel world view, including on Sunday night, when he vowed to back Israel's policy on Iran and on other issues.
Romney's visit in Jerusalem underscores his strong commitment toward the State of Israel and his appreciation of the Jewish people's importance; but by scheduling this visit so close to the elections the person who might be sworn-in as president in January doubled down on his support for the Jewish state.
The task Obama's challenger faces is two-fold: on the one hand he wants to boost his standing on the world stage by holding diplomatic meetings with Israeli leaders and the Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but no less important – he wants to demonstrate his unwavering support for Israel.
This support is of paramount importance to Israelis, but also to Jewish voters in swing states back home – Florida and Ohio – and for evangelical Christians.
Obama is at a disadvantage when it comes to Israel. His famous Cairo address in 2009; calling on Israel to halt construction in east Jerusalem, and of course, the symbolic fact that he did not include Israel on his itinerary every time he visited the region (despite visiting Arab states) – have all produced the insulting feeling that he has somehow soured on Israel.
But after the incumbent president realized that the Republican candidate is eying the Jewish vote, and that his trump card is a visit to Israel, Obama decided to sign into law a whole host of measures that expand U.S.-Israeli cooperation on defense.
This new legislation – which truth to be told is not revolutionary and had been approved by Congress several weeks ago – has been hyped by Obama's advisers, who wanted to use it as a high-profile gesture toward Jewish voters and made sure this photo-op got extensive coverage in all the major medial outlets. Of course, the new legislation is important and will greatly benefit Israel; nevertheless it amounts to too little too late.
Israel will cooperate with anyone who supports it. We have many enemies around the world and we must take any support we can get, especially if offered by the world's strongest superpower. But Romney's consistent attitude toward Israel clearly shows that Israel would have a true friend in the White House should he become president.
Danny Danon is a Likud MK and chairman of World Likud.