President Barack Obama shakes hands with children before he signs a guest book at the residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on March 20. Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters
President Obama will be making an historic trip to Israel in which he will meet with Israeli officials, see a number of important Zionist sites, and receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres. It is without a doubt that the President will connect with the Israeli people and convey his exceptional record of support for the Jewish State.
During his first term, the President provided more than $11.4 billion in foreign aid that has been directly responsible for restoring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge over its neighbors. That aid has positioned Israel to better defend itself and provide security for its citizens.
One of the President’s most significant contributions to Israeli security is the successful development of the Iron Dome missile defense system. Developed by Israelis, and using funding from the Obama Administration, the Iron Dome operated at an 85% success rate of shooting down incoming rockets aimed at populated areas during Operation Pillar of Defense. President Obama ensured that $275 million in critical supplemental funding for the Iron Dome was expedited through Congress at a time when Israel needed it most.
The cooperation between the United States and Israel on missile defense will continue into the future. President Obama worked to guarantee that the United States will provide $650 million in supplemental funding for the Arrow and David’s Sling missile defense systems. Combined with the Iron Dome, Israel will have a multi-layered missile defense shield protecting its citizens from a variety of rockets and missiles. The level of funding provided by President Obama is unprecedented -- and double the amount provided by the Bush Administration. Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that “this Administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.” Barak also said that he can “hardly remember a better period of support, American support and backing.”
The connection between the United States and Israel extends beyond military cooperation. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had 27 publicly acknowledged meetings and calls -- more than with any other foreign leader. President Peres said in March of last year, “Mr. President, I know your commitment to Israel is deep and profound. Under your leadership, security cooperation between the US and Israel has reached its highest level. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a friend in the White House.”
The President has also taken other important steps to defend Israel. President Obama has led the global movement to sanction Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Leading by example, President Obama signed 6 sanctions bills and executive orders that have led to a 50% decline in the value of Iran’s currency as well as a 40% drop in Iran’s oil exports and sales. The President consistently reiterates that all options remain on the table for stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program, including military force.
President Obama has made clear that his support for Israel will continue throughout his second term, and that he will convey that message to the Israeli people during his visit. The President will also make it abundantly clear to Israel’s enemies -- as he has countless times -- that he stands squarely behind Israel as it continues to work towards peace and security.