At the Republican Jewish Forum in Washington DC the Republican presidential candidates each spoke at length to a mostly Jewish audience.
A topic that often unites many Jewish voters and and the most socially conservative Republicans is the defense of Israel. Three strong social conservatives, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, said why the defense of Israel was so important to them both in terms of strategy and in terms of morality.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum shined in his speech, bringing the audience to its feet when he finished.
Santorum was in his element, talking mostly about national defense and American foreign policy, and specifically about the threat of radical Islam emanating from Iran and extending worldwide.
Referencing the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and comparing it to the terrorist attack on 9-11, Santorum said, “We are all tired of war, but our Pearl Harbor already happened.”
Santorum said that when America suffered the attack on 9-11, it had been “blindsided”. Santorum warned the audience that America must not allow itself to be blindsided again, specifically by a nearly nuclear capable Iran.
“We all understood that the real existential threat to Israel was the state of Iran,” Santorum said.
Santorum said that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon then it will change not just the Middle East, but also the world. Just like in WWII, he believes that The policies of “appeasement” are what will ultimately lead to tragedy and devastating war.
To deal with the threat of Iran, Santorum would use a number of policies to make sure that it never retains a nuclear weapon. He would use covert activity and sanctions. The most important sanction being the shut down of the Central Bank of Iran, which would cripple the Iranian economy, but would likely provoke a massive increase in oil prices.
On top of the economic warfare with Iran, Santorum advocated that America do more to become energy independent, including the development of biofuels, drilling in Alaska, and overturn the anti-energy development policies of the Obama administration. Santorum also said that he would end all energy subsidies to “let the free market work”.
On top of combating Iran at home and in the Middle East, Santorum warned about the extension of Iranian influence in many “socialist” South American countries. Letting Iran extend its “sphere of influence” would be dangerous according to Santorum.
Gov. Perry also gave strong support of Israel in his remarks, saying that the defense of Israel had a special meaning to him.
“American Israel policy is not just a box I check off in my campaign,” Perry said.
Perry indicated that Iran may be the greatest threat to the United States and that there may simply be two options left, “military strike” or a “nuclear Iran”. Perry also said that using sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran will be a vital to preventing the Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Rep. Bachmann took a slightly different route in her speech. She talked about how her 1974 trip to Israel deeply changed her outlook toward the country. She saw how the country struggled to survive with hostile neighbors and how there were always fears of attack.
“It opened my eyes, but more importantly it opened my heart to the Jewish People,” Bachmann said.
Like Santorum and Perry, Bachmann explained how grave a threat Iran is to the existence of Israel and the safety of the United States interests. She said that in doing little to create regime change in Iran, President Obama is “taking his eye off the most serious threat.”
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