Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Obama, Dems Tout Pro-Israel Bona Fides

No effort is made to challenge prevailing assumptions

Print Email
Netanyahu and Obama in the Oval Office earlier this month.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After a year-and-a-half during which the United States has enjoyed at best a bumpy relationship with Israel, will Jewish voters bestow the same love on Democrats running in November’s midterm elections as they did on President Obama in November 2008? To try to get a “yes” on that, Obama and House Democrats have leaked a series of talking points that purport to show that Democrats and Obama have been just as good for Israel as the previous administration—if not better!

Many have said that the notion of “support for Israel” should be redefined because, sometimes, the way for the United States to be Israel’s best friend is to criticize it; that, in the case of American backing of Israel, there is such a thing as loving not wisely, but too well. This is, broadly speaking, the J Street line: We are “pro-Israel,” it says, but part of that involves telling Israel that, say, continued settlement beyond the Green Line, combined with demographic trends, is actually bad for Israel.

Certainly you could find plenty of people to agree with that notion. But these Democratic talking points indicate that the alternate, tough-love definition of “pro-Israel” has not penetrated the broader domestic political consciousness. The Obama administration and national Democrats are still playing by the old “pro-Israel” rules, which almost certainly favor the other side. As far as the midterms are concerned, the government that supports Israel best supports it most.

Meanwhile, the newly formed Emergency Committee for Israel is working hard to make sure that Jews don’t again turn out in droves for the Democrats, as executive director Noah Pollak told Haaretz. Its attack on Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pennsylvania) is only the beginning. “We saw an effort to improve the image of the relationship,” Pollak said, referring to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s White House visit earlier this month, “but there is a big question about what happens after the midterm elections. It wasn’t long ago that the administration was openly questioning the very fundamentals of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Is Obama going to tack back to that stance?”

Shmuel Rosner has thoughts on the talking points, namely, that they show the Democrats are fine on Israel, but not necessarily as strong as the previous administration.

Ron Kampeas fisks them at length, and while he gives great credit to Obama on a couple subjects—including the administration’s funding of Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket-defense system, which required millions of additional dollars, and taking a hard-line against Turkey’s recent official anti-Israel stance—for the most part, Kampeas notes that the administration’s touted “support” is really just stuff that any plausible administration, of whatever political stripe, would have done.

And yet, Kampeas makes this extremely valuable point: “Since some conservatives routinely accuse Obama of being ‘the worst president’ for Israel, ever, cross my heart, since before time, it’s worth yanking folks back into the reality that he is maintaining a broad pro-Israel protocol.” Truth.

As Vote Nears, Berman Stresses Dem Israel Support [JTA]
The Berman Notes—A Closer Look [Capital J]
U.S.-Israel Tensions Boost Conservatives Ahead of Midterms [Haaretz]
Earlier: How Does Kristol Do It?
Emergency Committee v. J Street

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

There is little doubt in my mind that the Obama administration has acted against the interests of the State of Israel. The examples are numerous and those with eyes can see them.

Because of Obama’s anti-Israeli policies I have decided to vote against Democratic candidates, and to encourage all my friends to do the same. The talking points that the Democrats are now trying to develop are ways to fool the public. Fool us once, shame on you, fool us again – I won’t let you.

Don Berlin says:

As a life-long Zionist and advocate for Israel, my eyes see a wonderful picture. The Democrats are solidly supportive of Israel. Admiral Sestak was and is extremely supportive of the Israeli military while his opponent had no difficulty voting against the US Foreign Aid Bill. Only Neocon Republicans are making the case that Obama is bad for Israel. American Jews are too savy to fall for that old strategy of divide and conquor and guilt by association (no matter how untrue the charge may be) in trying to deligitimize its opponents. The effort to smear Obama on Israel began long before he was elected. The scoreboard is Obama and the Dems’ support for Israel: WON; the Neocon Rebublicans who sold us a war with Iraq and who want to destroy this administration: NOTHING

David says:

Don, you forgot to mention how awesomely awesome J Street is!

Only a hopelessly J Streeter like yourself would believe the nonsense you wrote.

Sestak supports CAIR, he supported the anti-Israel resolution on the House floor commending Israel for self defense during the flotilla raid. But no, it’s those NEOCONS that are distorting his record! Seriously man, you need lay off the Nutroots blogs for a while, it’s messing with your brain.

One last thing about your post. “American Jews are too savy to fall for that old strategy of divide and conquor and guilt by association.” Are you kidding me?!?! People like yourself are all about guilt by 6th, 7th or even 10 degrees of separation when it comes to anything of the right of the Huffington Post.

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

Any Jew that votes for any silent democrat that had his mouth shut when Obama humiliated P.M.Netanyahu or vote for Obama has no intelligence and no brains.

That would stop the myth that Jews are smart. How much do they have to bend and bow down before they realize he is doing this for the Jewish votes only?

Pres. Obama is partying, bringing Broadway to the White House, avoiding speaking to our Boy Scouts Jamboree 100 year celebration to go on a telesion program and do fund raising.

Is this a Pres or a wannabee celebrety?

We have serious problems in the world, no jobs, babies in Ohio sleeping in cars..why no tents and food sent to the people in our own country not only foreign countrys when we need it?

I have seen tents and pkgs of food sent to victims across the seas but only New Orleans in this white areas. I am not a racist but it seems our government is.

Someone get a tape of Ann Curry’s dateline program shown on Friday, July 23rd of her tour in Ohio and you will cry.

No showers no tents, no jobs, no education..only in the inner cities do the so called news programs show poor people. Time for us to take a look at people who do not vote for democrats and help them not because they are white but because they are citizens in this country.

Charity should begin at home and home to what the elites call “Fly over country”. Shame on the Pres. and Congress as well. Both sides of the aisle.

rose tripp says:

obama has no right to put pressure on Israel for anything. Jerusalem belongs to Israel. Israel should build where it wants to. The flotilla was not Israel’s fault. most Americans have a great love for Israel, and consider Israel as Americas greatest friend. most Americans will not vote for obama again due to his treatment of Israel.

11. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Obama, Dems Tout Pro-Israel Bona Fides

No effort is made to challenge prevailing assumptions

More on Tablet:

A Tale of Three Twitter Feeds: Hamas Tweets in Arabic, English, and Hebrew

By Aaron Magid — Analysis of the social-media messaging of Hamas’ military wing reveals distinct voices for the West, the Arab Middle East, and Israel