Israel in the eyes of Republican Presidential Candidates


By Gideon

The second Republican debate on September 16, 2015, was moderated by CNN in the Ronald Reagan presidential library in California. It was three hours long. 

It was clear from the opening question that the moderators were interested in getting the candidates going after each other by specifically asking the candidates to respond to insulting statements made by other candidates on them. For most parts the candidates wisely avoided the traps.

Perhaps because they were CNN moderators, neither Israel nor the Iranian nuclear deal were topics of discussion in this debate. Candidates were not asked about their position on these issues. Yet, four candidates made a point to specifically speak in favor of Israel, dedicating precious minutes that could have been used to promote themselves to speak on behalf of Israel.

At one point during the debate, I turned to my wife and my kids who watched the debate with me and said: “It is incredible to see four out of the eleven presidential candidates showing such a strong support for Israel, in an American presidential debate, even when they are not asked about it.” 

The four candidates were former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem as one of his first acts as president, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

In the following day, on the CNN website, in an article titled “CNN’s Republican debate: Winners and losers”, the following candidates were the winners: Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie. Two out of the four were candidates who showed strong support for Israel during the debate.

Almost all Republican candidates are strong supporters of Israel. This is what they said about Israel in the past:

Donald Trump

“I have a Jewish daughter. This wasn’t in the plan, but I’m very glad it happened,” Trump said at the event, held in Manhattan. On Israel, he said, “We love Israel. We will fight for Israel 100 percent, 1,000 percent. It will be there forever.”

Marco Rubio

“This is outrageous, it is irresponsible, it is dangerous, and it betrays the commitment this nation has made to the right of a Jewish state to exist in peace,” he concluded. “If America doesn’t stand with Israel, who would we stand with? If Israel — a democracy, a strong American ally on the international stage — if they are not worthy of our unconditional support, then what ally of ours around the world can feel safe in their alliance with us?” – Marco Rubio delivers withering rebuke of Obama’s Treatment of Israel in the US Senate.

Ted Cruz

“Those who continue to hate Israel, hate America,” Cruz said in Washington DC in September at an event called, In Defense of Christians. “Those who hate Jews, hate Christians. If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps for them.” – Cruz said during his announcement of candidacy.

Chris Christie

“Our commitment to Israel must be absolute. Israel is a beacon of freedom in a sea of autocracy and our friendship should be unshakeable. Over the last few years this administration has taken our Israeli partners for granted and it is shameful how the president has treated them.”

Jeb Bush

“I will rebuild our vital friendships,” Bush promised, and “that starts by standing with the brave, democratic State of Israel.” – Jeb Bush announcing his presidential campaign.

Mike Huckabee

“Israel has more of a connections to lands in Judea and Samaria – specifically Shiloh, where I was last night, 3,500 years of connections to that very piece of property,” he argued in a news conference at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jerusalem. “In America, we have about a 400-year relationship to Manhattan. It would be as if I came and said, ‘We need to end our occupation of Manhattan.’ I’m pretty sure most Americans would find that laughable.”…“I cannot imagine that any American who comes here would somehow feel that the Israelis are out of line in wanting to have as safe a barrier between them and their sworn enemies as possible,” – Mike Huckabee Calls West Bank Part of Israel.

Carly Fiorina

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina says “on day one” of her presidency, she would call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reaffirm U.S. support for the Jewish state.

It is “vitally important that we have a discussion on how America must lead in the world,” she said. That’s why “on day one … I would call Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him that the U.S. will always stand with Israel.” –

Paul Rand

“I’m proud to support Israel, America’s longtime friend and ally in the Middle East. Israeli cafés and buses are bombed, towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets, and its citizens are attacked by Palestinian terrorists. It’s time we took a stand for Israel by standing up to the enemies of Israel, the enemies that murder Israeli citizens. That’s why I proposed a bill called the ‘Stand with Israel Act’ to cut off the flow of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority. As long as the Palestinian Authority is allied with Hamas not one more tax dollar should flow to them. – Rand’s webpage on Israel.

Ben Carson

“The United States of America has had a special relationship with Israel ever since we were the very first nation to recognize her creation. The depth of our unique bond with Israel has only strengthened over the years. Israel is our only democratic ally in the Middle East. She is surrounded by nations that threaten her very existence. We can never let her enemies believe that our deep commitment to Israel’s peace and security will waver. We must always stand with Israel and her people.” – Carson’s webpage on Israel.

“While Israel must be able to go it alone, it should never have to stand alone.  In recent years, personalities and politics have been permitted to negatively affect America’s relationship with Israel despite the fact that the bonds between our two nations are so unique and vital.  When the enemies of Israel and the United States sense rifts between us, they are emboldened and grow even more dangerous. The strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship can and must be strengthened.” –

Scott Walker

“I wish it were not the case, but this trip only confirmed my belief that the current administration is not giving Israel the support it needs. Instead of standing with our ally, the president is making bad deals with a country that wishes to wipe Israel off the map.” – Scott Walker Reflects on Israel Trip

John Kasich

“I have been forever a very strong and emotional supporter of Israel,” Kasich told Ohio reporters at an ad hoc news conference in a hallway off the House floor after Netanyahu’s speech.

“There’s nothing new here,” he added, batting away questions about whether his trip was designed to lay the groundwork for a White House run. “I’ve had a great interest in foreign affairs for a very long time.” – USA Today – In reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress

Bobby Jindal

“It’s inconceivable that the White House left the Jewish people out of the list of the Islamic State’s targets in their request for authorization for military force,” Jindal said. “There are countless examples of the Obama administration disrespecting Israel and the Jewish people, but this omission in the AUMF follows two signs of disrespect in only the last several days.” – The Washington Free Beacon

Rick Santorum

“Santorum supports expanded Israeli settlements and believes the West Bank is Israeli ground, won in the 1967 Six-Day War, comparing it to Texas and territory the U.S. gained in the Mexican-American War.” – PBS

Lindsey Graham

“I worry about where this is going. America needs to be ready and willing to push back against any European nation or business that would embargo Israel. If you embargo Israel, we will embargo you. “I feel very strongly about this. The common values that the U.S. and Israel share, and the common enemies we share, obligate us to speak up and be protectors of the only democracy in the region. If Israel fails, God help us all.” – Israel Hayom

George Pataki

“George Pataki’s Plan to Aid Israel With Bomb Marks Big Change suggested that the United States give Israel the Massive Ordnance Penetrator would mark a huge change: The United States has never given that bomb, or the B-2 needed to drop it, to any ally, and it would remove from American control how and when to respond to Iran.” – New York Times