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Palestine rates one mention in debate– from Romney; Obama forgot he even went there

on 21 Comments

Now you know how it feels to be stateless: the Palestinians didn’t rate more than a single mention in the foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, FL, tonight, even as both presidential candidates repeatedly tried to out-Israel one another. Romney mentioned the Palestinians once. Obama forgot that he visited Palestine.

Both candidates repeatedly made pledges to Israel and its security. Not a word about Israel’s occupation, nothing about the two-state solution. In a shocker, Obama said he considered a breach by Egypt of its treaty with Israel a threat to U.S. security. NYT transcript:

They have to abide by their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels.

But that peace treaty specifically called for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Who’s walked away from it? Obama is Singing Hatikva, a friend wrote me. Scott Roth tweeted, “If after watching this debate you are not convinced that Israel is a serious problem for this country, then you’re deluded.”

Almost as shocking, Romney said he’d have Ahmadinejad indicted for inciting genocide– and Iranian diplomats treated like pariahs, “the same way we treated the apartheid diplomats of South Africa.”

And then he slapped Obama for not visiting Israel:

Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to — to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to — to Turkey and Iraq. And — and by way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel.

Obama responded quickly that he had visited Israel in 2008 as a presidential candidate– and failed to mention that he had also visited Palestine then:

You know, if we’re going to talk about trips that we’ve taken, you know, when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops.

And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the — the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the — the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.

And then I went down to the border towns of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of — of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.

So that’s how I’ve used my travels when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region.

So that’s how he used his travels! He skipped Palestine.

Moderator Bob Schieffer was the only person on stage to suggest that a nuclear Iran might be deterred from using a bomb– just as the Soviet Union was deterred. That comment brought a promise to use force if necessary to stop Iran, from Obama.

And Romney was the only one to mention Palestine. He did so in faulting Obama for not working on peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Is — are Israel and the Palestinians closer to — to reaching a peace agreement? No, they haven’t had talks in two years. We have not seen the progress we need to have

So Romney wants peace talks and Obama simply ignores the Palestinians. So much for the two state solution… No, the only thing that matters is Israel’s security. Endless talk of Iran, and accusations that Obama has put daylight between Israel and the U.S. But not a word about Palestinians living under the longest military occupation in modern history, a source of rage across the world. Tragic.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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21 Responses

  1. flyod on October 22, 2012, 11:32 pm

    jack rosen has to be proud of his investment. so must sheldon. a good night for israel…..what palestine?

  2. kalithea on October 22, 2012, 11:39 pm

    Ahhh, I dream of the Ron Paul narrative: no more funding to Israel, no more “special friend” or Ziocon influence on foreign policy. It definitely wasn’t based on who’s better at fawning and feigning for Israel.

    But here Ron Paul was treated like a pariah. Go figure, and now the whining over an abyssmal choice. I have no pity.

    • RudyM on October 22, 2012, 11:59 pm

      Don’t blame me. I registered as a Republican for the first time in my life just so I could (pointlessly, really) vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary, in spite of my being neither a conservative nor a libertarian.

      I had to face the embarrassment of hearing my name called out to vote, followed by “Republican.”

    • annie on October 23, 2012, 12:04 am

      But here Ron Paul was treated like a pariah. Go figure

      i recall you made some statement before about all the writers here panning paul. i asked you to back it up and you couldn’t.

    • mhuizenga on October 23, 2012, 7:07 pm

      There was some concern about Paul here if I remember correctly, mostly by progressives wrt the racist newsletters, environmental issues, etc, but also a lot of support wrt the issues this blog deals with most. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I’ve been a supporter for a long time because he was the only one out there willing to take a different stand on foreign policy and civil liberties.

      I had been leaning Obama because I fear a Romney presidency so much, but after last night, I see that they are so similar regarding the civil liberty/war issues that I feel compelled to cast my “wasted vote” for Gary Johnson.

  3. doug on October 22, 2012, 11:47 pm

    Tragic? Sure, but completely predictable. Unfortunately.

    A lot of sound, a bit of fury, and nothing of substance while carefully tuned to the resonances of donors.

  4. ToivoS on October 23, 2012, 1:11 am

    Heard one talking head (on CBS?) who said Israel was mentioned 22 times, no other country reached 10 mentions while India, Mexico, Brazil or other S. American countries and sub-Sahara Africa merited zero.

  5. Peter in SF on October 23, 2012, 1:25 am

    Romney said he’d have … Iranian diplomats treated like pariahs, “the same way we treated the apartheid diplomats of South Africa.”

    The United States gave full official recognition in Washington to South African diplomats throughout the entire apartheid period.

  6. Peter in SF on October 23, 2012, 1:41 am

    A year ago, Mondoweiss had an article entitled “Israeli embassy tried to get alarmist Iran question into 2008 presidential debate, then coordinated Gaza onslaught’s end with Team Obama”. Here is the part about the 2008 debate, quoted from Richard Silverstein:

    In September 2008, before one of the presidential debates, an Israeli operative attempted unsuccessfully to meet with a debate panelist in order to plant a question about war against Iran: Would the candidates take military action against that country or accept a nuclear-armed Iran? The Israelis did NOT want any question that asked what the candidates might do if Israel attacked Iran.

    This time, these operatives got the first part of what they wanted, but they also got what they did NOT want in 2008:

    SCHIEFFER: What if — what if the prime minister of Israel called you on the phone and said, “Our bombers are on the way. We’re going to bomb Iran.”

  7. seafoid on October 23, 2012, 4:25 am

    Bob Scheiffer demands to know whether each candidate would treat an attack on Israel as an attack on the US, as is done in NATO. Obama declares that “Israel is our greatest ally in the region” and then, in essence, provides that assurance: “if Israel is attacked, we will stand with Israel”.

    He’s now boasting of how he has “crippled” Iran’s economy and turned it into a “shambles”.

    9.48pm: Romney, too, said: “If Israel is attacked, we have their back – militarily”. The festival of agreement continues.

    9.49pm: Romney: “it’s absolutely the right thing to have crippling sanctions”, though he says he would have put them in even earlier and would “tighten” them now. Last week, the Guardian reported:

    “Millions of lives are at risk in Iran because western economic sanctions are hitting the importing of medicines and hospital equipment, the country’s top medical charity has warned.

    “Fatemeh Hashemi, head of the Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-government organisation supporting six million patients in Iran, has complained about a serious shortage of medicines for a number of diseases such as haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and cancer.”

    I trust I don’t need to say that none of that has been mentioned or even alluded to.

    • Antidote on October 23, 2012, 7:35 am

      It’s not the first time the US has crippled the Iranian economy. And let’s remember that there was no “genocidal threat” whatsoever against Israel the last time the US worked for regime change in Iran. Does the pretense of being primarily concerned about Israel’s security not simply seek some humanitarian cover for the same old imperialistic and economic US interests?

    • Inanna on October 23, 2012, 6:30 pm

      “It was worth it”

      “Birth pangs of the Middle East”

      Quotes from two former US Secretaries of State, daughters of Pallas Athena.

  8. seafoid on October 23, 2012, 4:27 am

    Beinart tweet

    Just amazing how much israel discussion there’s been w/ no mention of palestinians #dotheyexist #debate

  9. chinese box on October 23, 2012, 9:00 am

    I think this is good, actually. Finally the “honest broker” pretense has been dropped. This may wake some more people up about the Democrats. Any lip service Obama might given the Palestinians would surely have amounted to nothing concrete in the future anyway.

  10. American on October 23, 2012, 9:02 am

    Here’s the problem with politician’s debates….and why I don’t even listen to them any more.

    Obama says “our’ security is at stake if Egypt breaks it’s treaty with Israel….
    And no one is there to or allowed to make him explain how or why our security is at stake.

    How is US security at stake Mr President?????………EXPLAIN WHY PLEASE.

    It’s all bullshit.

  11. Dan Crowther on October 23, 2012, 10:07 am

    maybe now we can cease with the cheerleader journalism, and focus on the world as it is? Has the veil been lifted Mondo?

    By the way, my money is still on Mittens.

  12. Polly on October 23, 2012, 11:38 am

    How freakin’ depressing was this? A debate mostly about various degrees of either rehabilitating the entire Arab world or punishing it!

    • Inanna on October 23, 2012, 6:28 pm

      Thanks for picking that up Polly. I watched the debate later on the internet and couldn’t finish it because I couldn’t handle precisely that presentation of the Middle East and Arab world.

  13. Jan on October 23, 2012, 9:37 pm

    Too bad both men did not replace the American flag in their lapels with an Israeli flag. Too bad they did not insist that an Israeli flag be placed onto the stage.

    The flags would have bolstered even more the pandering and sucking up to Israel and to the Jewish and Christian Zionists.

    One would have thought that they most important country to these men was not America but Israel – and maybe it is. Too bad for America. Too bad for the Palestinians. Too bad for peace with justice.

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