(Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)
In a departure from his focus on domestic issues, such as Social Security and HPV vaccines, Texas Governor Rick Perry is now venturing into foreign policy. On Tuesday, surrounded by a group of Jewish leaders, Perry held a press conference in New York, declaring his strong support of Israel and criticizing President Obama on his Middle Eastern policies.
“I also as a Christian have a clear directive to support Israel, so from my perspective it’s pretty easy,” Perry told a reporter when asked about his views. “Both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel.”
“Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” Perry told reporters.
As the United Nations is considering a vote on Palestinian statehood, Perry criticized Obama in particular for seeking concessions from Israel, especially the administration's call for a freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Critics of the Obama Middle East policy say the White House has not done enough to encourage the Palestinian Authority to reach a peace accord, and instead has focused on seeking a vote for statehood. Such a vote would force the U.S. to vote “no,” a move that Obama hopes to avoid.
Perry made it clear that if elected president, his policy on the Middle East would be clear and direct.
“Indeed, bolstered by the Obama administration’s policies and apologists at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East, hoping to achieve their objective without concessions and direct negotiations with Israel,” Perry said. “We are going to be there to support you. And we are going to be unwavering in that. So I hope you will tell the people of Israel, help is on the way.”
Hoping to take advantage of the Jewish community’s frustration with President Obama, Perry sought the help of New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an orthodox Jew, who threw his support behind newly-elected Rep. Bob Turner (R-N.Y). Turner was recently elected to fill the seat formerly held by Anthony Weiner, in a special election in New York’s 9th congressional district.
“The message in the 9th district is a very clear one, and it should be crystal clear to the White House: We don’t like your policy on Israel,” Hikind said.
Although he didn’t give Perry an endorsement, Hikind complimented him.
“Saw your article in The Wall Street Journal, and I thought, ‘that sounds like me.’ That sounds like a man who understands the situation the people of Israel are confronted with. They want peace,” Hikind told Perry.
Palestine is pushing for a United Nations vote this week, but it is unclear if or when the vote will take place.