Antony Blinken, a key figure on President Obama's National Security Council, has put to paper some of President Obama's concrete achievements on behalf of Israel. It is an impressive list. I know there are people out there who have made themselves impervious to facts on this matter, but here goes anyway:
Our dedication to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge is not talk; we are walking the walk. Since coming to office, we have launched the most comprehensive and meaningful strategic and operational consultations, across all levels of our governments, in the history of this relationship. These interactions, from our heads-of-state on down, are what averted tragedy in Cairo--and they only exist between the closest of allies.
In October 2009, our nations' armed forces conducted their largest ever joint military exercise, Juniper Cobra. In 2010, nearly 200 senior-level Department of Defense officials visited Israel, and senior Israeli officials visit the U.S. just as often.
And this year, despite tough fiscal times, President Obama fought for and secured full funding for Israel in our 2011 budget, including $3 billion in military assistance--the most ever.
We secured an additional $205 million to help produce Iron Dome. This short-range rocket defense system has been a godsend for besieged communities along Israel's border with Gaza, and it has now been installed in the north, along the Lebanon border, as well. Already it has intercepted dozens of rockets that might otherwise have struck homes, schools or hospitals, providing peace of mind for people, like the residents of Sderot whom President Obama visited in 2008, living perpetually in the line of fire.
To guard against more distant, but also more dangerous threats, we have worked with the Israelis on the Arrow weapons system, to intercept medium-range ballistic missiles, and David's Sling, for shorter-range missiles. And we have collaborated on a powerful radar system linked to U.S. early warning satellites that could buy Israel valuable time in the event of a missile attack.
We know that Israel sees the threat posed by Iran as existential. And make no mistake: An Iran armed with nuclear weapons on long-range missiles would pose a direct and serious threat to the security of the U.S. as well.
That is why we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And we have backed up that commitment by building an unprecedented coalition to impose the most far-reaching sanctions Iran has ever faced. As a result, Iran finds itself increasingly isolated from the international community. It finds it harder than ever to acquire materials for its nuclear and weapons programs and to conduct transactions in dollars and euros. And it has struggled to buy refined petroleum and the goods it needs to modernize its oil and gas sector.
Already close to $60 billion in Iranian energy-related projects have been put on hold or discontinued. And world-leading companies are deciding to stop doing business there, including: Shell, Total, ENI, Statoil, Repsol, Lukoil, Kia, Toyota, Siemens and foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms such as GE, Honeywell and Caterpillar, among many others.
Standing up for Israel's security also means remaining ever vigilant against attempts to delegitimize Israel in the international arena. As President Obama has said, including in the speech he gave in Cairo, the heart of the Arab world, Israel's legitimacy is not a matter for debate.
That is why we stood up strongly for Israel's right to defend itself after the Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza War was issued, and why we refuse to attend events that endorse or commemorate the flawed 2001 World Conference Against Racism, which outrageously singled out Israel for criticism.
That is also why we are working literally around the clock and around the world to try to prevent steps taken at this month's U.N. General Assembly meeting from further isolating Israel or undermining efforts to reach a secure, negotiated peace with the Palestinians.
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