Why 34 mentions of Israel got me trashed last night

Before last night’s debate, I created a little drinking game for myself and anyone who wanted to join. The instructions were to drink every time Israel was mentioned and drink twice every time the candidate emphasized how close he was with Israel and/or its Prime Minister or criticized his opponent for not being close enough. I had no idea how intoxicating and expensive this drinking game would be. Because it turns out that during the debate, Israel was mentioned 34 times!

I was too trashed from all the Israel mentions to keep track of how many times the candidates praised Israel or accused each other of not hearting Israel sufficiently, so I had to check the transcript.

From Obama

  1. it [Israel] is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region.
  2. And so everything we’re doing, we’re doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel
  3. They [Egypt] have to abide by their treaty with Israel.
  4. our alliances have never been stronger, in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel, where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat.
  5.  Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region.
  6. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel.
  7. I will stand with Israel if they are attacked.
  8. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history.
  9. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week.
  10. And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors. I didn’t attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.

From Romney

  1. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel.
  2. We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies, and particularly with — with Israel.
  3. We have to also stand by our allies. I — I think the tension that existed between Israel and the United States was very unfortunate.
  4. if I’m President of the United States, when I’m President of the United States, we will stand with Israel. 
  5. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s number one.
  6. And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel, that they noticed that as well.
  7. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations.
  8. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel.
  9. Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the prime minister of Israel is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way, or their fighters are on the way. This is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly evaluated well before….
  10. I look around the world, I don’t see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding… in part because of the — the — the turmoil with Israel. 
  11. I mean, the president received a letter from 38 Democrat senators saying the tensions with Israel were a real problem. They asked him, please repair the tension — Democrat senators — please repair the tension…

Basically, Israel is the small business of foreign policy. If Israel and small businesses had a baby, that baby would be the only thing the candidates would ever talk about. Of the 21 statements cited above, my favorite was Romney name-dropping his closeness to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  (Actually, I was really surprised Mitt didn’t use the Prime Minister’s nickname Bibi. Candidates usually love to out-Bibi each other, as they did in the last debate.) Bob Schieffer asked Romney, “what if the prime minister of Israel called you on the phone and said, ‘Our bombers are on the way. We’re going to bomb Iran’,”? Romney responded, “my relationship with the Prime Minister of Israel is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way, or their fighters are on the way.” What he didn’t say, but should have said is “my relationship with the Prime Minister of israel is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way. Bibi would just role over in bed and whisper it into my ear.”

Meanwhile, in the land of our BFF, a really scary study shows that most Israeli Jews would support apartheid. Check out this chart.  If Israel is really our besty, we should be worried.



Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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