In the 20th century, American politicians with ethnically diverse constituencies were advised to visit the "three I's" — Ireland, Italy and Israel. Mitt Romney is heading to the third of those countries this summer on a mission that he hopes will burnish his image with American supporters of the Jewish state. Fair enough, but in establishing his bona fides as a friend of Israel, the Republican candidate for president must be careful of what he says and promises in order to avoid creating problems in the future.
As far back as the Republican primaries, Romney has tried to capitalize on a perception that President Obama is insufficiently attentive to Israel's interests. The supposed evidence of Obama's faithlessness was his endorsement of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on Israel's 1967 borders with Jordan "with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." Never mind that in espousing a two-state solution, Obama was echoing the policy of his Republican predecessor,George W. Bush.
Romney has also accused the president of being an unreliable ally of Israel and of "fretting" while Iran moves toward acquiring nuclear weapons. If elected, Romney says, he would "do the opposite" of Obama's policies toward Israel. (That claim inspired an Obama spokesman to ask: "Does that mean he would reverse President Obama's policies of sending Israel the largest security assistance packages in history?")