Historically, Presidential campaigning revolved heavily around the candidate’s position on Israel. Even before Israel became a nation, Presidents have had a relationship with the Jewish people and building their nation, this dates back to John Adams presidency. Sending this letter to Mordecai Manuel Noah:
Farther I could find it in my heart to wish that you had been at the head of a hundred thousand Israelites . . . & marching with them into Judea & making a conquest of that country & restoring your nation to the dominion of it. For I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation (1819).
However, when Israel became a country in 1948, it became a major part of the United States presidential campaigns. This showing of support continues today. When a candidate wants to show their level of seriousness, they pay a trip to Israel.
The political cartoon “Dry bones” enlightens this for the 1976 election. While it isn’t discussing the candidates in particular the concept is highlighted during this particular campaign. The cartoon features a young girl crying and her father trying to figure out what is wrong. It is dated November 3, 1976 the day after the general election. The girl’s birthday was the day prior and she was so happy, getting so many presents and good wishes. So the father is baffled as to why she is sad, the little girl is suffering from “post-celebration depression” and she correlates this to being Israel the day after the election.
So many candidates offer much support and promises to the country of Israel. The people voting look upon this with such importance when the candidates are running. However it is usually just another lost political promise. During this time especially the candidates don’t actually have to or care to follow through with the promises that they’ve made. President Ford’s promise regarding the safety of Israel in a release from the White House press,
America must and will pursue friendship with all nations. But, this will never be done at the expense of America’s commitment to Israel. A strong Israel is essential to a stable peace in the Middle East. Our commitment to Israel will meet the test of American stead, fairness, and resolve. My administration will not be found wanting. The United States will continue to help Israel provide for her security. My dedication to Israel’s future goes beyond its military needs to a far higher priority — the need for peace. My commitment to the security and future of Israel is based upon basic morality as well as enlightened self-interest. Our role in supporting Israel honors our own heritage.
With this statement it is clear that Ford realizes how important to voters the relationship with Israel truly is. Carter’s opinion on the relationship with Israel was similar, he maintains this throughout his term as President. In a press release from the White House, President Carter, early in his first year of his presidency notes about Israel. “We have a special relationship with Israel. It’s absolutely crucial that no one in our country or around the world ever doubt that our number one commitment in the Middle East is to protect the right of Israel to exist, to exist permanently, and to exist in peace. It’s a special relationship.”(1977) Both candidates made a clear connection to the state of Israel and this campaign tactic continues today.
“Dry Bones” Cartoon: http://drybonesblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/us-presidential-campaign-1976.html
Presidential Quotes: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/presquote.html