Why do GOP presidents hate Israel?

Right-wing heads exploded as President Obama landed in the Jewish state for the second time since 2008 – and his first as President of the United States – for a visit that will culminate in a lavish state dinner thrown by the Israel government in his honor.

So much for hating Israel.

In fact, President Obama has visited Israel more times than Saint Ronald Reagan ever did, who clocks in at an astounding zero visits. I’m sure those summits with Michael Jackson took a lot out of the old gipper. And even Reagan’s vice-president and successor, George H.W. Bush, also managed to totally avoid visiting Israel.

Too busy worrying about throwing up on then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, I guess.

Right-wing pundits have had a field day with President Obama’s supposed anti-Israel positions, completely ignoring the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the president’s support, going so far as to claim Obama deserves a “badge of honor.”

Israeli flag

Israel via Shutterstock

2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney also got in the action, releasing a campaign ad during the election criticizing the president for not visiting during his presidency, although Mitt had neglected to mention that he himself had also forgotten to visit Israel until he decided to run for president. And when he finally decided to go, it went about as well as Lindsay Lohan in Lifetime’s “Liz and Dick.”

Since it seems like Republicans are deciding that physically visiting the country dictates the level of solidarity one has with Israel, it’s safe to assume that neither Reagan nor Bush liked Israel much. Gerald Ford never visited either. And the most recent GOP President, George W. Bush, waited until his final year in office to visit the Holy Land, twice, obviously thinking it less important than the 77 presidential trips he made to his ranch instead.

Even today’s Republican leaders are coming out as anti-Israel, with GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor astonishingly declining an invitation to accompany the president to the Jewish state, claiming he’s too busy working on a budget and voting to repeal ObamaCare for the 44th time.

Counting by the numbers, it appears Democrats are in fact the most pro-Israel party. President Obama has visited twice. Jimmy Carter visited once. And Bill Clinton visited a record four times, while still finding time to balance a budget, create millions of jobs, preside over the most prosperous economic period since WWII, and stop fights between Buddy and Socks.

And if you go back even further, Nixon visited Israel once, but like W Bush he waited until the last year of his presidency.  And Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower and Truman all skipped visiting Israel all together.

When you add it all up, over the past seventy years Democratic presidents have visited Israel 7 times, while Republicans have only visited 3 times.

Now who hates Israel?

Though in all fairness to the GOP presidents, it’s hard to visit Israel when you can’t even find it on a map.


Gabe Ortíz is a San Francisco-based writer. He has contributed to the Mission's bilingual newspaper "El Tecolote," and the political blogs AMERICAblog, AMERICAblog Gay, and Veracity Stew. He's also a Stevie Nicks lover and shameless catlady. Follow him on Twitter: @Tusk81.

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