Romney heads to Israel (Excerpts)

NBC News interview, July 27, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is probably looking forward to a warmer welcome on the next leg of his foreign tour: Israel.  This will be Romney's fourth visit to Israel. His most recent was last year – when he said at a conference that Iran's leaders "represent the greatest threat to the world since the fall of the Soviet Union."

NBC News spoke with a number of Israeli and Arab analysts, as well as representatives of Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad in Israel, to get an idea of what they think of Romney’s visit.

How will Romney's visit impact voters in the U.S., especially in swing states like Florida?

Yoram Ettinger, former Minister for Congressional Affairs to Israel's Embassy in Washington, D.C.:   The decision by Romney to highlight Israel as a unique ally of the U.S. will enhance his standing amongst most Americans – Christians and Jews – as evidenced by recent polls, which document increasing American support of Israel. It will have particular impact on voters in critical battleground states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

How do you rate Obama's presidency with regard to relations with Israel?

Yoram Ettinger:  Obama considers Israel to be the aggressor and the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular to be the victims. Obama does not believe in confronting rogue regimes, such as Iran, but rather engaging them in diplomacy and sanctions. Obama is the first American President who shares no affinity towards Judeo-Christian values, which are cherished –according to American public opinion polls – by 80 percent of the American public.

What will Romney be discussing in his visit?

Yoram Ettinger: The recent seismic developments on the “Arab street” highlight Israel's role as the only reliable, stable, predictable, capable, democratic and unconditional ally of the U.S., which offsets the lower U.S. profile in the Middle East and expected cuts in the defense budget.