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Reality Check: President Obama’s Troubling Stance Toward Israel is Alienating Jewish Americans

Last night at an event in New York City, President Obama reportedly claimed he’s done more for Israel “than any previous administration.”  He may have prefaced his comment with the caveat that he was trying “not to pat myself too much on the back,” but it’s safe to say that many in the Jewish community strongly disagree with President Obama on his record of support for Israel. 

Here’s some background:

>> PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CALL FOR ISRAEL TO RETURN TO 1967 BORDERS PROMPTS FEAR, BACKLASH IN ISRAEL: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that U.S. President Barack Obama's vision of a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 could leave the Jewish state ‘indefensible’… ’The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel's existence,’ the Israeli leader said in a statement….” (Reuters, 5/19/11)

>> JEWISH DEMOCRATS RUN FROM PRESIDENT’S “INDEFENSIBLE” POSITION: “…it is important to remember that a full return to the 1967 borders will be indefensible for Israel and that talking with terrorists who want to destroy Israel is a non-starter,” Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) said… And Rep. Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called the reference to the 1967 borders “gratuitous” in an interview with his hometown paper, Long Island’s Newsday.  (Politico, 5/20/11)

>> SPEAKER BOEHNER SAYS WHITE HOUSE IS “WAY OVER THE LINE”: “Asked if the administration has been adequately supporting Israel, Boehner responds: ‘I think the president could have been stronger in his support of Israel… I think they’ve put far too much pressure on the Israelis to come to an agreement with the Palestinians even though they’re supported by Hamas. I just think we’ve gone way over the line. Israel is our ally. They’ve been our friends for 60 years… Frankly I think they should be treated better.” (Newsmax, 11/9/11)

Frustration is not isolated to the president’s handling of the Palestinian conflict.  The President Obama’s silence on OWS anti-Semitism and a recent gaffe has added to concerns about the White House’s stance towards Israel:

>> PRESIDENT OBAMA RENEWS SUPPORT FOR OCCUPY WALL STREET, REMAINS SILENT ON MOVEMENT’S DISTURBING ANTI-SEMITISM:  Last week President Obama again embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement, telling protestors “you are the reason I ran for office” (Weekly Standard, 11/22/11) while his silence on the movement’s disturbing anti-Semitic elements has a “growing number of Israelis and Jews on edge.” (Israel Today, 10/16/11)

>> HOT MIC CATCHES PRESIDENT OBAMA, FRENCH PRESIDENT SARKOZY DISSING ISRAELI LEADER:  “After the two leaders appeared together at a news conference during a G20 summit meeting in Cannes last Thursday, they retired to a room for what they thought was a private conversation. ‘I cannot stand him,’ Mr. Sarkozy was quoted as saying. ‘He is a liar.’  Mr. Obama is reported to have replied, ‘You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!’” (New York Times, 11/7/11)

Jewish voters, who backed President Obama by a wide majority in 2008, have been taking note:   

>> NEW YORK SPECIAL ELECTION BILLED AS “REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENT OBAMA’S ISRAEL POLICY” DEALS STUNNING REBUKE TO WHITE HOUSE:  “In a 58 percent Democratic congressional district, the most Jewish congressional district in the country and one that has not voted for a Republican representative since 1922, Republican political newcomer Bob Turner creamed Democrat David Weprin 54 percent to 46 percent in the special election in New York’s 9th Congressional District. Former New York mayor Ed Koch had called the election a referendum on President Obama’s Israel policy. Democratic assemblyman Dov Hikind crossed party lines to endorse Turner and make a point of his dissatisfaction with Obama.” (Washington Post, 9/14/11)

>> JUST 30 PERCENT OF VOTERS SURVEYED BEFORE THE SPECIAL ELECTION APPROVED OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S HANDLING OF ISRAEL:  “Turner is in fact winning the Jewish vote by a 56-39 margin, very unusual for a Republican candidate.  This seems to be rooted in deep unhappiness with Obama on this issue- only 30% of voters overall approve of how he's handling Israel to 54% who disapprove and with Jewish voters his approval on Israel is 22% with 68 of voters disapproving.” (Public Policy Polling, 9/8 – 9/11/11) 

As one Jewish Democratic Member of Congress recently noted, the President’s Israel problems could spell trouble in 2012.

>> DEMOCRATIC MEMBER OF CONGRESS SAYS OBAMA’S JEWISH SUPPORT COULD DROP “10 TO 20 POINTS” IN NEXT YEAR’S ELECTION: “’For a while now, I’ve been hearing from my constituents a lot of dissatisfaction with the statements on Israel that have been coming from the president and the administration,’ Rep. Eliot Engel, (D-N.Y.) told the New York Times this week. ’He’ll still get a majority of Jewish votes, but I would not be surprised to see that drop 10 to 20 points.’” (Politico, 9/16/11)

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