Amid ‘concerns,’ Obama defends record on Israel
December 1st, 2011
11:44 AM ET

Amid ‘concerns,’ Obama defends record on Israel

He’s faced criticism from some quarters that his administration’s support of Israel has been lackluster at best, but President Obama told a gathering of wealthy Jewish supporters Wednesday evening that no other administration has been as committed to the longtime U.S. ally.

“This administration – I try not to pat myself too much on the back – but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration,” Obama said at a private high-dollar fundraiser in New York’s upper East Side attended by about 30 people who paid $10,000 each. The event was hosted by Jack Rosen, the chairman of the American Jewish Congress.

“Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an iron dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security,” the president added.

The president’s less-than warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his endorsement for Palestinian statehood negotiations to follow the pre-1967 lines has drawn fire from some critics in the Jewish community. Israelis argue that returning to the former configuration would leave population centers vulnerable and displace settlers.

Obama also faced questions last month when he was overheard not exactly defending Netanyahu in response to French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling the Isaeli Prime Minister a “liar.”

Obama’s response, according to Reuters: “You're tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day,"

The Jewish voting bloc is an important one for Obama, having supported him 5-1 in 2008. But the response from the Jewish community this cycle has been more tepid according to several reports. Adding to Democratic anxieties was Republican Bob Turner's 8-percentage point victory in September over Democrat David Weprin in a district held by Democrats since 1923. The heavily Jewish district’s swing toward the GOP was viewed as warning sign to some Democratic strategists who worry the same could happen nationally in 2012.

Rosen himself, while expressing his support for the administration’s efforts, acknowledged the grumblings before introducing the president.

“As you know many in the Jewish community are concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, among the frontrunners for the GOP nomination who would clearly like to win a bigger slice of the Jewish vote, is disputing that the president is a strong advocate for Israel.

“Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, U.S.-Israeli relations have hit a low not seen since the Jimmy Carter years," he said in a statement. "Words uttered behind closed doors in a campaign fundraiser in New York are one thing. Actions that have repeatedly thrown Israel under the bus are another.”


Topics: President Obama

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soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Cyrus

    If any other community kept pestering the U.S. government for support, aid, and blank checks for a foreign government, they would be put under scrutiny and called unpatriotic. Bibi has single-handedly reversed the positions that Sharon advanced for Israel's security and a Palestinian statehood, and we are still standing by cheering on. No democrat or republican candidate has the courage to say, if you want continued support of the U.S., go back to Sharon's proposals and get on with it. If we can give Iraq and Afghanistan deadlines to shape up, we should be able to do it with Israel too. Perhaps, then the whole world won't see us as Israeli pawns, but truly committed to peace and security in the region.

    December 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • KatR

      Well said!

      December 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • steveo

      Cyrus,

      There is one major obstacle to a Palestinian state and that is it's capital city. They will NEVER get Jerusalem and that is exactly what they are aiming for!

      December 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Jerusalem is not an "obstacle" at all. To realize that this is indeed the case try to answer the following simple question: Will there be peace if Israel removed ALL settlements, ALL military bases, ALL checkposts from the West Bank and fully withdrew to the cease fire of 1949?

        December 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
      • Steveo

        Thinker23
        Jerusalem is not an "obstacle" at all. To realize that this is indeed the case try to answer the following simple question: Will there be peace if Israel removed ALL settlements, ALL military bases, ALL checkposts from the West Bank and fully withdrew to the cease fire of 1949?
        -----------------
        To answer your question... NO! There would be no peace. Didn't Iran say they wanted to wipe Israel off of the face of the earth? Unilateral movements such as your examples would only leave Israel more vulnerable. they are surrounded by those who would love to see them gone!

        December 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Steveo... You're absolutely correct. THERE WOULD BE NO PEACE REGARDLESS of Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and/or Jerusalem. This means that Jerusalem IS NOT an obstacle to peace or to Palestinian state.

        December 2, 2011 at 5:36 am |
      • Steven

        They obstacle here is religion. Pave over the whole region, re-name it, and displace the local nut jobs. I know it's effed up but I swear it will work.

        December 2, 2011 at 7:40 am |
      • steveo

        Thinker23,

        I better understand your point, yet there can be no denying that the Palestinians want Jerusalem as itheir capital. I appreciate the the conversation. Thanks

        December 2, 2011 at 9:04 am |
      • Thinker23

        steveo... My point was pretty simple: If it is agreed that there will be no peace (and, therefore, no Palestinian state) with or without Jerusalem then Jerusalem CAN NOT be claimed as a "major obstacle" to a Palestinian state.

        December 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
      • Thinker23

        steveo... SO WHAT if the Palestinians "want" Jerusalem as their capital (by the way, HOW COME they DID NOT WANT Jerusalem as their capital prior to 1967 when the West Bank and East Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan?)? What would France, for example, do if the Palestinians declared that they want Paris as their capital?

        December 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
      • Steveo

        Thinker23,
        I am not disagreeing with you but rather am pointing out the fact the Palestinians want what is impossible and what they will never achieve. They full well know they will NEVER get Jerusalem and are using that as but one of many excuses not to pursue peace with Israel. Any rational adult can see this.

        December 3, 2011 at 10:17 am |
      • Steveo

        Thinker 23,
        keep in mind we are talking about folks with a deep seated hatred for Israel and their leadership, that I believe is not serious about peace with Israel. They could claim ANYTHING would be a major obstacle to peace. This clash is not new and is thousands of years old. Again, my point of reference is Biblical and not political. From my western eyes, as you state this may not be a major issue but to theirs, after generations of hated, I believe it is!

        December 3, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Howard

      With the way obama has thrown Israel under the bus ... AIPAC, and the whole Jewish community should put all of their resources behind whoever runs against obama !!!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
      • Paul

        Threw Israel under the bus?? Which bus are you referring to? The Bus that had $1billion in military aid this year? BTW, Israel is the only country allowed to spend US military aid on weapons made in their own country by their own contractors. All others have to buy US products.

        December 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Cyrus... I have some news for you: the Palestinians REJECTED Sharon's proposals. They've also REJECTED Barack's proposals in Camp David and Taba. Palestinians REJECTED Rabin's proposals and Begin's proposals as well as the UN proposal of 1948. What is the point to go back to old rejected offers?

      December 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Howard

      With the way obama has thrown Israel under the bus ... AIPAC, and the entire worldwide Jewish community should put all of their resources behind whoever runs against obama !!!

      December 1, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  2. no to pork obama

    Are You Better Off Now than 4 Years Ago, Ask 26 million Unemployed and Underemployed and the answer is NO, We Are Not Better Off

    December 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • steveo

      That is a very fair question and one that has been asked in more than one election cycle. That is a question that we well all have to answer for ourselves! The other side to that is who or what is the cause? We will all get to answer that on election day!

      December 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • chill

      At the beginning of 2009 we were on the precipice of a depression brought about largely by a lack of regulatory oversight of huge banks and insurance companies and housing bubble that both parties were complicit in (See Ownership Society). While the curent situation is far from rosy, we are clearly better off than we were then.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Bob

      Absolutely, too bad it takes more than 3 years and an OBSTRUCTIONIST Repuke party to get it done.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  3. Howard

    AIPAC, and the whole Jewish community should put all of their resources behind whoever runs against obama !!!

    December 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • steveo

      Howard as you know, the Jewish communities normally vote Democrat (as a whole). We will see if that changes in Nov 2012. All of this stuff is hard to predict. We have 11 months to ago, anything can happen between now and then.

      December 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  4. Joi Gibson

    Netanyahu came here and disrespected our President. There is something about Netanyahu that just rubs me the wrong way, even before he disrespected the President. He reminds me of Mitch McConnell.

    December 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Name* Lobo 74

      Let it out Bro, let it out. At least you're not trying to lie about your hatred for Israel like our phony president. Praise Allah.

      December 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
      • dionysus

        So not liking a particular politician makes someone a Muslim. Jeez you're crazy.

        December 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Howard

      With the way obama has thrown Israel under the bus ... AIPAC, and the entire international Jewish community should put all of their resources behind whoever runs against obama !!!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
      • David

        Israel is still getting its $30 billion, got Iron Dome, the veto against Palestinian statehood, winking and looking the other way as settlements are built, bunker busters for use in Iran, and a bunch of other perks. If Obama threw Israel under the bus, that's one luxurious bus.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
      • Thinker23

        David... A severely DRUNK person may sometimes see double. What are YOU smoking that you see TEN TIMES MORE?

        December 2, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Clover Jones

      That's a lie. It was Obama who blatantly disrespected Netanyahu and on more than one occasion. Geez, Obama can poke black people in the eye and talk about their mamas, and they'll still vote for/defend him. Get a clue, lady, and some facts while you're at it.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  5. David

    “As you know many in the Jewish community are concerned,” Rosen said.

    Concerned about WHAT? The fact that this tiny nation has completely hijacked our foreign policy and its supporters have plunged us into a series of Mideast wars that have bankrupted our economy, corrupted our democracy, and almost eliminated our civil liberties?

    I'd say Americans have to be concerned about the uber-Zionist minority in the Jewish community and their Christian Evangelical Dominionist, Dispensationalist and Pre-Millenial wingnut friends instead of the other way around.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  6. C-Lo

    Quick thought–
    Should we change his title to "Fireman in Chief" because it seems that over the last 3 months he's been running from group to group of his now-disenfranchised-supporters trying to put out fires and rebuild his base.

    I won't go as far as to say he's pandering for votes at this point, but he seems to be more and more desperate as he reaches out to these groups who are unsatisified, or worse.

    It's no secret I am not an Obama fan, but even at that, I haven't been one to jump on the "he's always campaigning" bandwagon. I will say these recent months re-enforce my belief he is not a leader, and this is a contributing factor as to why there has been no improvement in the state of the nation in the last 3 years. You can point fingers at the Republicans all you want, bottom line is–and he said it himself–the buck stops with him.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  7. JP

    The worst thing about election time is everyone standing in line to kiss Isreal ass. Obama had it right when called for an end to illegal settlements on stolen land then AIPAC got a hold of his balls. As long as congress is an occupied territory there will never be peace.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Howard

      With the way obama has thrown Israel under the bus ... AIPAC, and the entire Jewish community should put all of their resources behind whoever runs against obama !!!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
      • Bob

        When isreal apologizes for murdering 34 US sailors aboard the USS Liberty, then I'll give a small damn what they want.

        Until then, they can go pound sand. They ain't no friend of ours.

        December 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
      • Thinker23

        Bob.. Did you know that American soldiers "MURDERD" British, Canadian and Australian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan? They've even "MURDERED" their fellow Americans...

        December 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
      • Paul

        Thinker23: What the heck does that have to do with the Liberty? How about the fact that Israeli soldiers murdered about 1000 civilian and POW Egyptians during the 6 day war? How about the fact that Israeli soldiers murder Palistinians on a daily basis?

        December 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Thinker23

      JP... THERE ARE NO ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS ON STOLEN LAND. Rejoice!

      If there were such "illegal settlements on stolen land" you and others complaining about them would SHOW THE LEGAL DEEDS proving that the "stolen lands" belong to someone else. In addition, you would SHOW THE LAWS prohibiting people of one ethnicity (in this case, the Jews) to live in certain places while allowing people of another ethnicity (in this case, the Arabs) to live there.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  8. bryan

    As a college student studying history and poly sci, as well as an american jew...the issue overall is a complex one. While I have my own grievances with the current israeli government, I believe obama has done a great job with handling the israeli-palestinian issue especially in this tumultuous time, overall it doesn't matter what netanyahu said to the president or how he is, he is the far right in israeli politics, and thus is at odds with many in his country as well

    December 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  9. Mike in Albany

    We should throw Israel under a bus. We are supporting a terrorist state that murders innocents daily, while our news media spins the victims as the perpetrators. America, you need to stop trusting your "news." Palestine is the victim. Isreal is the perp.

    Prememptive: I'm not jewish, muslim, or christian. I am american. I read 10 news agencies from around the world daily. I am college educated.

    You are wrong and misinformed if you think Israel is our ally.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Mike in Albany... It was Israel that offered Palestinian Arabs peace and a sovereign independent state in 1948, 1967, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and it were the Palestinian Arabs who REJECTED it every single time declaring that NOTHING but destruction of Israel would satisfy them. These are FACTS.

      When FACTS and your beliefs contradict each other it's not the FACTS that should be corrected.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  10. Dean

    Obama's a lousy president.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  11. chill

    I sometimes wonder if the GOP candidates are running for President of this country or Israel. They apparently expect any US President to be led around by the nose by whoever the Israelis put in charge, regardless of what they do or say. Like Obama, I agree that the security of Israel is paramount in the Middle East, but that doesn't mean accept every policy or chest-thumping move they make. Netanyahu in particular is pursuing policies that will soon make Jews a minority in their own country. And by the way, Obama said the 1967 bordrs would be a place to START with land swaps to provide more effective security for Israel. That same policy ahs been endorsed int he past by the Israelis.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Thinker23

      Which Israeli policies did you disagree with?

      December 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  12. SPA Knight

    What puzzles me is how any Jewish American can seriously support Obama and in fact pay as $10,000 at a fundraiser only to have him basically spit on them and claim he supports Israel. This administration has done everything to encourage surrounding terrorist states to wipe them off the map! It breaks my heart to see fellow Americans like these continue to be deceived and lied to by a man like Obama who supports redrawing the borders that would give back lthe land paid for by the precious blood of fellow Jews. How pathetically blind they are and so committed to the Democratic Party who takes them for granted.

    December 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  13. Max Powers

    Tell me why on earth we need a rogue state like Israel as an ally. Not only do they weaken our relationships with the rest of the world, but they cost us a lot of money. I'm sickened by Obama protects Israels right to flout international law.

    December 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  14. FLIndependent

    "Obama's a lousy president."

    ______________________

    I just love these generalities without any specifics to back them up. Guess, once a hater, always a hater!

    December 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  15. Stan

    If your pro-Israel you're anti-America, you can't be both. We have totally different objectives in that region, Israel objectives are expansion and coloization, while ours are oil and security(counterterrorism). Now does supporting Israeli expansion and colonization help us with oil and security(counterterrorism)? No. Israel is our biggest liability.

    December 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • steveo

      I strongly disagree! Who says you can't be both? As a Christian and to me, our relationship with Israel goes deeper than politics! It is spiritual and Biblical. I am not saying they have been perfect! They haven't and neither have we! I know there are difference of opinion and that's OK but these are mine! As far as your counterterrorism claim, why are you so sure we are not getting any intel from Israel?

      December 2, 2011 at 9:24 am |
      • Paul

        stevo: How can you say that when the Jews don't even believe in Christ as the savior nor do the acknowledge the new testament at all! Judaism and Christianity are at odds in nearly all respects. Our support of Israel has done nothing to forward our security as a nation.

        December 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
      • Steveo

        Paul,

        I can say that because God told Abraham "I will bless them that bless you and will curse them that curse you". The question is Paul, do yo believe God keeps his promises? I do. The Bible promises a great revival in Israel. Again, I believe God will keep His promise! I believe that our support for Israel has brought blessings upon our nation!

        December 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Thinker23

      False assumptions always lead to false conclusions, Stan... You see, if Israeli objectives were "expansion and coloization"then Israel would not GIVE AWAY land for the last 35 years, it would do quite the opposite.

      December 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  16. SuckUP aLIE Baloney

    So many ill informed people, forget that there are laws, have been laws, to prevent the telling of the truth.. hahaha.. So why in the name of making a reality, a play of a book in which millions of lives taken, are not consequencial.. Who can bear this on their soul.?. Who really controls the US and IsFaek?? Every president is under severe pressure to lick their boots.. or else!! We shall see the 99% in a very early spriing. Bring it in and bring it on 2012!!

    December 2, 2011 at 5:39 am |
  17. steveo

    I am amazed that no one has brought up the anti 1%er arguement. Afterall, who else could afford tickets at $10,000 a piece? Unless that is an arguement of convience! Just a thought!

    December 2, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  18. jean2009

    According to ynet news headlines for Sept. 19, 2011 "Obama is the Best Thing Israel Has Going For It"
    New York Magazine dubbed President Obama the "first Jewish President". This in an article written by Yzithak Benhorin. The Jerusalem Post for Dec. 1 states: Polls Shows Israeli Approval for Obama is Up.
    The problem is that after 67 years Israel needs to get its act together and seriously reach an agreement that is not totally self-serving and non-beneficial to the American taxpayer.

    December 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Howard

      JEWS SUPPORTING OBAMA ARE LIKE KAPOS

      The kapos in the concentration camps were Jews
      who turned on their fellow Jews, in exchange for
      special favors. Obama and his administration, have
      consistently thrown Isreal under the bus, while
      campaigning for contributions from wealthy American
      Jews. The kapos were motivated by sheer survival,
      the American Jews who support obama,
      are motivated by greed, power,
      and what's fashionable ... even though they are being
      used like pawns by obama. All Jews should rally their
      support, and resources behind whoever runs against
      obama !!!

      December 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm |