The other night, while I was browsing Facebook, Mitt Romney targeted me with the following ad:
The embedded video opens with the question, “Who shares your values” seeking to contrast President Obama, who the narrator says “has never visited Israel and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as its capital” with Romney who “will be a different kind of president: a strong leader who stands by our allies. He knows America holds a deep and cherished relationship with Israel.” The film roll shows clips of Mitt Romney smiling aside his former Bain colleague, Israel Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Israeli and American flags waving side by side, and even Romney donning a yarmulke while appearing to pray at the Western Wall. Romney’s message, of course, is Obama has spurned Israel or, as Romney is fond of saying, ”thrown Israel under a bus.” His goal is to make Israel a wedge issue to siphon away Jewish votes and campaign contributions, which have historically gone to Democratic candidates by overwhelming margins (Barack Obama won 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008).
An evaluation of Romney’s claims reveals that he has presented facts out of context and distorted the truth. With regard to the President Obama’s visits to Israel as President, The Washington Post’s “The Fact Checker” blog noted:
… only four of the last 11 presidents visited Israel during their presidency, and two — Nixon and George W. Bush — waited until their second term to make their first trip. In both cases, they visited in the last year of their presidencies (Nixon resigned because of the Watergate affair shortly after his trip.)
Only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, then, visited Israel in their first term. And of the last four presidents, two never visited Israel, one visited in his second term and one visited in his first term.
Thus Obama’s failure to travel to Israel thus far is not unusual at all.
It’s also worth noting that President Obama traveled to Israel twice during the four years in the Senate.
The assertion that Obama has failed to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is also deceptive. Though the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 mandates a relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama have all exercised “security waivers” preserving the status quo given that the ‘final status” of Jerusalem has yet to be resolved. The United States is not alone; in fact, there are no countries with embassies in Jerusalem.
The canard that President Obama has been “bad for Israel” has been dispelled by the highest ranks of Israel’s government. In fact, last week, Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister and current Defense Minister, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
Stateside, there has been no shortage of prominent voices in the Jewish community praising President Obama’s record on Israel. Among them:
Edgar Bronfman, Former CEO of the Seagram’s Company and the former president of the World Jewish Congress wrote on August 6th in Haaretz :
“…President Barack Obama is such an ally and his steadfast support for the Jewish State has made it safer and more secure than ever before…
…Whether it is joint military exercises to stave off threats from terrorist and rogue regimes, or advancement and deployment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, President Obama has led a breakthrough in a mutually beneficial partnership with Israel.”
Steven Grossman, the Massachusetts State Treasurer and Former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) wrote in the New York Daily News on August 10th:
I have been to Israel dozens of times and led many delegations of visiting political and civic leaders. I can tell you from experience that what counts isn’t whether someone goes to Israel, but the policies they espouse here at home. Obama’s tenure has been marked by a string of pro-Israel actions, accomplishments and stands…
…So, as the ads appear and the lies are spread, let’s not get bogged down in petty debates and absurd accusations about travel schedules that have no bearing on the U.S.-Israel relationship.
When it comes to Israel’s security, President Obama hasn’t taken his eyes off the ball. In this election, as pro-Israel voters, we shouldn’t either.
Many of those who claim to oppose President Obama because of his policies on Israel, like Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who has pledged to spend $100 million to help elect Romney, seem to be using Israel as an excuse. Take Adelson: His company is currently being investigated for corrupt practices and he would like to pay less tax on foreign revenue repatriated back to the United States (his casinos apparently generate millions of dollars an hour — so that’s lot of taxes!). Israel sounds much better than wanting leniency in a corruption investigation and lower corporate taxes in the midst of a deficit.
So, looping back to where I started, here’s what irks me about being targeted by Mitt Romney on Facebook.
One of the reasons people choose to advertise on Facebook, as opposed to Google, is the ability to target people granularly. Given all the information we volunteer about ourselves on Facebook—through “liking” posts and content across the internet, joining groups, listing interests and sharing personal information—organizations can tailor advertising campaigns to target demographic groups.
A band can target Beatles fans, a blog might target Spanish-speakers in the Bronx, a dating site can target middle-aged divorcees and employers can target graduates of certain schools. And Mitt Romney can target people like me. I do not list that I am Jewish on Facebook, but the site must automatically identify me as such—or as someone interested in Israel— based on factors like articles I post and being in my Birthright trip’s Facebook group. Below is Facebook’s ad purchasing page—you can see just how easy it is to target different groups of people.
To intentionally target Jews with misinformation is to assume, as Edgar Bronfman wrote, that the “American people — and particularly the Jewish community — are uninformed and that we cannot tell the difference between rhetoric and reality.” It is especially interesting considering that that the Romney ad opened with the question, “Who shares your values,” because Israel is not an issue in this election and on the issues most important to Jewish community, including fixing the economy, strong health care, national security, social security, energy security, abortion rights, immigration and the separation of church and state, the choice is clear: Barack Obama.
- thebriansden posted this