Mitt Romney's rhetoric on Israel isn't only unfair—it's just plain wrongby Liam Hoare / August 3, 2012 / Leave a comment
It is far too easily forgotten that, in 1992, Bill Clinton ran against George HW Bush from the right on Israel. Bush had opposed a $10bn loan guarantee programme for Israel on the basis that the money could be used to further continue settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza, which peaked at 7,750 new homes per annum by the end of the hardline Shamir administration. Clinton criticised the need to link these loans to curbing the growth of settlements, and Bush’s proposal to withhold the money until after the elections in Israel.
By August 1992 Bush relented, ratifying the loans without provisos regarding the settlements, but the damage was done. His share on the Jewish vote collapsed from 35 per cent in the victorious 1988 election to an abysmal 12 per cent in 1992, a ballot he lost. Although Clinton was popular amongst American Jews for his economic and social ideas, namely that “without a growing economy, without a strong, stable and secure American middle class, America’s commitment to Israel will always be under pressure,” it is also the case that Clinton weakened Bush’s standing by adopting a hawkish stance on the loan guarantees and Israel’s security.