New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s visit to Israel this month left him with a stronger view of Israel’s need for land for security. He may be Mitt Romney’s running mate.
Notably, Gov. Christie did not visit the Palestinian Authority during his trade mission visit, a fact that was not overlooked by Arabs. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum think tank, wrote on NJ.com he had invited Gov, Christie to visit his mother in the town of Kalandia, near Jerusalem.
“For a governor who said he will ‘tread lightly’ and wanted the visit to be educational, ignoring the Palestinian elephant in the room sent a contradictory message,” Assaf wrote. “Many speculated his trip was intended to raise his stature as he contemplates national office. If this were true, Christie broke a precedent set by many dignitaries before him, who did visit the Palestinian territories.”
He added that if he was trying to please the Jewish population in the state, the governor should have realized that “there are more than twice as many Muslims and Arabs in New Jersey than Jews.”
In response, Max L. Kleinman, executive vice president, United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey wrote to NJ.com, “A Palestinian state could already exist if Palestinian leaders had accepted Israeli peace proposals from the Barak and Olmert governments. Israel is still waiting for the Palestinian Authority to show up for peace negotiations.”
The Summit Jewish Center’s Rabbi Avi Friedman wrote on the website, “I am sorry Assaf’s mother is still waiting for Christie’s visit. However, it is more tragic that Israel is still waiting for a courageous Palestinian partner willing to compromise for peace.”
Following his trip to Israel, Gov. Christie said his helicopter tour of the country, particularly over Judea and Samaria, taught him the relationship between distance and security in Israel.
Noting that his flight from Judea and Samaria to the Mediterranean Coast took only three minutes, he said, “A missile goes much faster than a helicopter.”
Last year, Gov. Christie rejected encouragement to run for president, but he now is considered one of the leading candidates to run for vice president along with Romney, who has the presidential nomination in the bag.
Although he did not visit the Palestinian Authority, Gov. Christie spent a weekend visit with King Abdullah II of Jordan.