Tough talk:

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee demonstrated its continuing clout this week by providing a venue for timely speeches by presidential candidates John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It was no surprise that all the speakers pledged their firm support for Israel. But there were significant shades of difference in how each proposed to safeguard both Israeli and American interests.

These differences reflect healthy arguments, here and in Israel, about policy and strategy. McCain was in full campaign mode, mocking what he called Obama’s “bold new idea” of conducting direct negotiations with Iran. McCain was plainly seeking to plant the notion that Obama is too soft, too gullible, to be America’s commander in chief.

Obama, though, was hardly squishy. “As president, I will never compromise Israeli security,” he told the audience. Obama’s willingness to talk to nasty regimes — to conduct what he called “tough and principled diplomacy” — was echoed in Olmert’s own defence of his government’s negotiations with Syria.

The audience gave all three — Olmert, Obama, and McCain — standing ovations. Politeness aside, the Olmert and Obama take deserved the heartiest applause. — The Boston Globe