US Presidential Candidates’ Positions on IsraHell – Palestine, War, and Civil Liberties


CNI summarizes the policy positions of President Obama and the top Republican nominees.


by  Pamela Olson

Click on the links below or scroll down to see the candidates’ statements on Israel-Palestine, the wars, and Civil Liberties.



War against Iran

Civil Liberties

Mitt Romney

Pro-Israel, against Palestinian UN bid

Increase the military by 100,00 troops, threaten Iran with military action

Pro-Patriot Act & related measures

Newt Gingrich

Pro-Israel, calls Palestinians an invented people

Prefers imposing regime change through non-military methods, but force is an option

Would strengthen Patriot Act

Rick Santorum

Pro-Israel, the West Bank is legitimate Israeli territory

Advocates air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities

Civil laws must comport with God’s law, pro-Patriot Act & related measures

Ron Paul

Non-interventionist, end US aid to Israel

Generally anti-war, against pre-emptive strike on Iran

Opposed to the Patriot Act & related measures

Barak Obama

Pro-Israel, opposes settlements, supports two-state solution along 1967 borders, but has done little to advance these positions

All options are open

Supported reauthorizing Patriot Act, has maintained or increased executive power

Mitt Romney



Mitt Romney at the Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) conference in 2007

“In his first 100 days, Mitt Romney will reaffirm as a vital U.S. national interest the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge… With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mitt Romney will… reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas.”[17]

“Over the past three years, President Obama has… chastened Israel. He’s insulted its Prime Minister. And he’s been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.”[18]

War against Iran


One of Romney’s campaign ads claims that “violent, radical Islamist fundamentalism” is “this century’s nightmare.” Romney pledged to “increase the military by 100,000 troops.”[19]

“As the world’s greatest power, the United States will strive to set the international policy agenda, create a predictable economic and security environment that enables other countries to develop policies that are in conformity with our own… While America should work with others to advance our interests and values, America will always reserve the right to act alone to protect our vital interests.”[20]

“Mitt Romney believes that it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon… In his first 100 days, [he will] make clear that the military option is on the table by ordering the regular presence of an aircraft carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. He will also begin talks with Israel to increase military coordination and assistance and enhance intelligence sharing.”[21]

Civil Liberties


“Governor Mitt Romney raised the prospect of wiretapping mosques and conducting surveillance of foreign students in Massachusetts, as he issued a broad call yesterday for the federal government to devote far more money and attention to domestic intelligence gathering.”[22]

Romney supported the Patriot Act, federal wiretapping, and other post-9/11 measures that violate Constitutional rights and freedoms.

Newt Gingrich at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum

Newt Gingrich



“I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs… And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons [they] have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s.”[1]

“As President, on my first day in office, I will issue an executive order directing the US Embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem as provided for in the legislation I introduced in Congress in 1995… The United States should explicitly reject the concept of a right of return for Palestinian refugees.”[2]

On January 6, 2012, Gingrich’s super PAC received a $5 million contribution from Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire with close ties to the far right in Israel.  Adelson publicly approved of Gingrich’s statement that Palestinians are an ‘invented people.’[3]

War against Iran


Bombing Iranian nuclear sites, as some suggest, is “a fantasy,” he said, because many are underground. Instead, the United States must seek “regime change” in Tehran.[4]

“Unless they unilaterally disarm their entire system, we are going to replace [the Iranian] regime. We’re ideally going to do it non-militarily, but we are not going to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapon.”[5]

“We need a strategy, as Rick Santorum was saying, of being honest about radical Islam and designing a strategy to defeat it wherever it happens to exist.”[6]

“The United States is ‘about where we were in 1946’ up against the Soviet Union, he said recently,” suggesting a possible decades-long Cold War with the Muslim world.[7]

“We are engaged in a long war against radical Islamism… a powerful and organized ideology within Islamic thought that is totally incompatible with the modern world.”[8]

Civil Liberties


On the PATRIOT Act: “I think looking at it carefully and extending it and building an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives… I’d look at strengthening it, because I think the dangers are literally that great.”[9]


Rick Santorum at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2012 Pres. Candidates Forum

Rick Santorum



“All the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.”

–Rick Santorum, November 21, 2011[10]

The West Bank “is legitimately Israeli country,” so Israelis “have a right to build things based upon their ownership of that land.”[11]

War against Iran


“We will degrade those facilities through air strikes, and make it very public that we are doing that.”

–Rick Santorum on Meet the Press, January 1, 2012[12]

“On occasion scientists working on the nuclear program in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”

–Rick Santorum at an October 2011 campaign stop in Greenville, SC[13]

“[T]he fight against Islamic fascism is the great test of our generation. Leaders are obliged to articulate this threat and to propose what is necessary to defeat it.”[14]

“We need to change our information operations abroad to promote our core values of freedom, equality, and democracy—just as we did with the Soviet Empire in the 1980s.”[15]

Civil Liberties


“Our civil laws have to comport with a higher law. God’s law… And not any God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”[16]

Santorum supported the Patriot Act, federal wiretapping, and other post-9/11 measures that violate Constitutional rights and freedoms.

Ron Paul



“The position that we should hold [in Israel/Palestine] is that we should be on neither side… Even though Israel did the invading of Gaza, we, the United States, will be blamed for it. And there’s some truth to this, because Israel depends on us… and they really got a green light from our administration… It just means that we have just antagonized the Muslim Arab world even more so than ever before, and unfortunately we’ll suffer the consequences of this.”[32]

“Our policies of intervention and manipulation in Iran and Iraq and other places have led to unintended consequences and have not made Israel safer. Many in the Jewish community share my opinion, and it’s vital for both nations that we continue to have an open dialogue.”[33]

“I would treat [Israel/Palestine] like the rest of the world. I’d want to be friends. I wouldn’t want to interfere. I wouldn’t send money. I would let people sort out their problems.”[34]

War against Iran


“We’re involved in wars in Afghanistan, we’re escalating the war there. We’re pretending the war is over in Iraq, which it is not, and it’s draining us. It’s draining us emotionally, certainly it’s draining us financially, and as this whole area blows up, where are we even going to get the funds to keep this militarism going? And yet nobody in Washington’s really considering… cutting back on the world empire.”[35]

Ron Paul told Iowa voters in December that he would not launch a preemptive strike on Iran because “they don’t threaten our national security.”[36]

Regarding war against Iran, Paul said in a GOP debate in November, “I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq.”[37]

Civil Liberties


“Everything we have done in response to the 9-11 attacks, from the Patriot Act to the war in Iraq, has reduced freedom in America.”[38]

If elected, Ron Paul pledges to “guarantee our intelligence community’s efforts are directed toward legitimate threats and not spying on innocent Americans through unconstitutional power grabs like the Patriot Act” and “prevent the TSA from forcing Americans to either be groped or ogled just to travel on an airplane and ultimately abolish the unconstitutional agency.”[39]

“I think the Patriot Act is unpatriotic because it undermines our liberty… our early founders were very clear. They said, don’t be willing to sacrifice liberty for security… You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.”[40]

Barak Obama appearing at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC

Barak Obama appearing at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC):

Barack ObamaIsrael/Palestine: On June 3, 2008, Barak Obama secured enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the 2008 presidential election. The very next day, he gave a speech at AIPAC, the main institution of the Israel lobby, calling Israel’s security ‘sacrosanct’ and ‘non-negotiable.’

[23]He appointed Rahm Emanuel, whose father is Israeli and who supported the Iraq War and volunteered with the Israeli army during the Gulf War, as his White House chief of staff.

[24]The Obama administration has called settlement expansion “unhelpful” and publicly supports the formation of a Palestinian state. But the Obama administration has done nothing serious to pressure the Israelis to comply, and so far the Israeli government has flouted the wishes of the Obama administration with impunity.Yet Obama secretly sold Israel bunker-busting bombs, which the Israeli government had requested under the Bush administration, and cast the only UN veto of his administration against a Security Council resolution condemning settlement expansion. Obama has also taken US financial assistance to Israel to record levels. He opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel when it killed nine civilians aboard the Mavi Marmara, and derailed Palestinian attempts to unilaterally declare statehood at the UN. (He threatened to veto any move by the Palestinians to gain recognition at the UN and engaged in quiet but intense diplomacy to discourage other countries from recognizing Palestine as a state.)

[25]“This support in the international community is coupled with unprecedented military and security cooperation with Israel under President Obama. The administration sent Israel the largest-ever security-assistance funding in 2010 ($2.775 billion) and raised that to $3 billion for 2011 – spending over 50 percent of the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Finance Program’s budget on Israel – and has provided about $200 million annually to US-Israel joint missile defense programs. The Obama administration has also granted Israeli forces access to advanced US military hardware (such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter), emergency stockpiles and free or discounted equipment. Under President Obama, US forces conducted the largest ever US-Israel military exercise, Juniper Cobra – sending a clear message to Israel’s enemies about President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security.”

[26]“I was in uniform for decades – I can hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”–Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, August 2011

[27]“We have not had a better friend than President Obama… Cooperation has never been better upon issues which are of the most sensitive and most [important] to our collective security and well-being.”–Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, September 2011

[28]War against IranBen Rhodes, White House deputy national security advisor, responded to the GOP debaters’ critique of President Obama’s handling of Iran. “This president has never hesitated with action,” Rhodes told CBS News, adding that problems aren’t solved through “rhetoric alone” and all options are open.

[29]Civil LibertiesObama supported reauthorizing the Patriot Act and supports warrantless wiretapping. His administration has been at least as secretive as Bush’s despite promises of transparency and accountability.

[30]The Obama administration has retained and increased the powers acquired by the US government since 9/11, including assassination of US citizens, indefinite detention, warrantless searches, using secret evidence in trials, committing actions defined as war crimes by international law, and extraordinary rendition.

[31] About CNI

[1] Alexander Marquardt, “Newt Gingrich ‘Ignorant,’ ‘Racist’ Say Palestinians,” ABC News, December 10, 2011.

[2] Newt Gingrich, “New Stands with Israel,” Campaign Website of Newt Gingrich, December 7, 2011.

[3] Revital Blumenfeld, “Sheldon Adelson to Birthright group: Gingrich is right to call Palestinians ‘invented people’,” Haaretz, December 26, 2011.

[4] Trip Gabriel, “Gingrich’s Foreign Policy Words Summon the Cold War, but Enemy Is Iran,” New York Times, December 14, 2011.

[5] Michael Crowley, “Newt Gingrich Contemplates War with Iran,” TIME, December 13, 2011.

[6] Juan Cole, “Gingrich Urges War with Iran and Skyrocketing Oil Prices,” Informed Comment, November 23, 2011.

[7] Trip Gabriel, “Gingrich’s Foreign Policy Words Summon the Cold War, but Enemy Is Iran,” New York Times, December 14, 2011.

[8] Newt Gingrich, “Tell the Truth about National Security,” Campaign Website of Newt Gingrich, 2012.

[9] “Sparks fly over the Patriot Act,” Fox News, November 22, 2011.

[10] Glenn Kessler, “The Fact Checker: Rick Santorum’s claim that ‘no Palestinian’ lives in the West Bank,” Washington Post, January 5, 2012.

[11] Robert Mackey, “Santorum Insists West Bank Is ‘Part of Israel’,” The Lede Blog, New York Times, January 5, 2012.

[12] Michael Ono, “Santorum Says He Would Bomb Iran’s Nuclear Plants,” ABC News, January 1, 2012.

[13] Michael Brendan Dougherty, “Rick Santorum: Dead Foreign Scientists Are A ‘Wonderful Thing’ (Video),” Business Insider, October 27, 2011.

[14] Rick Santorum, “In Rebuttal: Islamic fascists vs. Islam itself,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 7, 2006.

[15] Rick Santorum, “10 Steps to Promote our Interests around the World,” Campaign Website of Rick Santorum, 2012.

[16] Dein Obeidallah, “Santorum wants to impose ‘Judeo-Christian Sharia’,” CNN, January 5, 2012.

[17] Mitt Romney, “Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney’s Strategy to Ensure an American Century,” Campaign Website of Mitt Romney, October 7, 2011.

[18] Jim Lobe, “Republican Frontrunner Mitt Romney Touts Neoconservative Foreign Policy,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2011.

[19] Theresa Cook, “Romney’s ‘Jihad’ thread ad,” ABC News, October 12, 2007.

[20] Mitt Romney, “Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney’s Strategy to Ensure an American Century,” Campaign Website of Mitt Romney, October 7, 2011.

[21] Mitt Romney, “Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney’s Strategy to Ensure an American Century,” Campaign Website of Mitt Romney, October 7, 2011.

[22] Scott Helman, “Wiretap Mosques, Romney suggests,” Boston Globe, September 15, 2005.

[23] “Transcript: Obama’s Speech at AIPAC,” NPR, June 4, 2008.

[24] Michael Scherer, “Rahm Emanuel’s Father Problem,” TIME, November 13, 2008.

[25] Steve Sheffey, “Obama, by his actions, has earned the pro-Israel vote,” Chicago Sun-Times, January 14, 2012.

[26] Robert Wexler, “Defending Obama’s pro-Israel credentials,” Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2011.

[27] Robert Wexler, “Defending Obama’s pro-Israel credentials,” Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2011.

[28] Robert Wexler, “Defending Obama’s pro-Israel credentials,” Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2011.

[29] Brian Montopoli, “Romney, Gingrich at GOP debate: We’d go to war to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” CBS News, November 12, 2011.

[30] Editorial, “We Can’t Tell You,” New York Times, April 3, 2010.

[31] Jonathan Turley, “10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free,” Washington Post, January 13, 2012.’s the same article reprinted elsewhere in case you have trouble accessing it:

[32] Ron Paul on Gaza, Youtube, January 3, 2009.

[33] Chemi Shalev, “Ron Paul tells Haaretz: I am not an anti-Semite,” Haaretz, December 28, 2011.

[34] Michael Gillespie, “In Iowa, Rep. Ron Paul Upstages Six Republican Presidential Hopefuls,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September/October 2007.

[35] Ron Paul on Gaza, Youtube, January 3, 2009.

[36] Jason M. Volack, “Ron Paul: Iran Does Not Threaten Our National Security,” ABC News, December 30, 2011.

[37] Brian Montopoli, “Romney, Gingrich at GOP debate: We’d go to war to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” CBS News, November 12, 2011.

[38] Ron Paul, “The 9-11 Commission Charade,”, August 24, 2004.

[39] Ron Paul, “National Defense,” Campaign website of Ron Paul, 2012.

[40] “Sparks fly over the Patriot Act,” Fox News, November 22, 2011.


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