Where was the criticism of Israel? That was the plaint from Ethan Bronner (pictured) in his Wednesday "News Analysis," "Foreign Policy Debate's Omissions Highlight Skewed Worldview."
Bronner, former Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times, wrung his hands over all the issues missed during the third and last presidential debate Monday night, which focused (mostly) on foreign policy. While he didn't suggest criticizing Muslim countries, or critcizing Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, he used the term against Israel, wondering where the "criticism" was of "its settlements or its occupation of the West Bank."
There was no mention, let alone discussion, of the role of Turkey or its dilemma as a Muslim nation sharing a border with Syria, no discussion of the aging royal family of Saudi Arabia and its sponsorship of radical and conservative Islam, no mention of Somalia or Islamist threats to allies like Jordan and Morocco. There was a glancing reference to the Palestinians, but no discussion of their divisions, of the role of Hamas, of the separate status of Gaza, of the weakening grip of Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, of what might happen if and when Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, leaves the scene.
And there was no criticism of Israel, its settlements or its occupation of the West Bank. Mr. Romney did say that Mr. Obama had not visited Israel as president even after his 2009 visit to Cairo in which he pledged a new era in relations with the Muslim world.
In other Israel election news, Isabel Kershner didn't seem very pleased reporting from Jerusalem Wednesday on strong Romney support among American citizens there, griping about the pro-Republican leanings of a get out the vote organization in "Among Americans in Israel, More Forceful Backing for Romney – Voting Group Offers Push From Abroad."
Americans living in Israel went to the polls this week, dropping sealed envelopes into improvised ballot boxes at community centers in this city and at other locations around the country. Instead of a unifying experience, though, participating in the November presidential elections from afar seemed to accentuate the distance between the American Jewish voters here and those back in the United States.
An American Jewish Committee Survey conducted in early September showed nearly two-thirds of Jewish voters were supporting President Obama, in line with support in past elections. According to exit polls since 1992, about three-quarters of Jewish Americans have supported the Democratic presidential candidate.
Historically, the vote from Israel has hardly counted. The number of eligible American voters here is now estimated at about 160,000. In 2008, about 30,000 cast absentee ballots. Many here said the process of registering and voting was just too complicated.
But this time as many as 75,000 Americans in Israel have registered for a ballot, spurred on perhaps by the critical issues on the American-Israeli agenda but also by the efforts of iVoteIsrael, a get-out-the-vote group that says it is nonpartisan but that critics accuse of working quietly for the Republicans.
But critics from the Democratic camp have noted that some of iVoteIsrael’s messaging, particularly on its Facebook page, has a distinct anti-Obama flavor, including an appeal to vote from the hawkish former United Nations ambassador, John R. Bolton, who has endorsed Mr. Romney.
Adding to the uncertainty, iVoteIsrael has also been vague about the sources of its financing. Its parent organization, Americans for Jerusalem, is a registered 501(c)(4) organization that does not have to disclose its financial backers. But the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group said last week that Americans for Jerusalem appeared to have ties to Ronald S. Lauder, the conservative American businessman, philanthropist and supporter of Republican causes. Mr. Lauder’s office said it had no comment.