Tevi Troy: Response to Steve Rothman’s Politico op-ed arguing Obama is a pro-Israel president:

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: Politico, 7-26-11

Rep. Steve Rothman’s attempt to convince people that President Barack Obama is pro-Israel (“Obama’s Pro-Israel Record,” POLITICO, July 25) fails on many levels. While he claims it is Republicans who “label the president as anti-Israel,” concerns with Obama’s problematic stance on Israel extend beyond the ranks of the GOP, in the U.S. and beyond. As The Wall Street Journal noted, even “Jewish fund-raisers for Mr. Obama say they regularly hear discontent among some supporters.” Furthermore, a Jerusalem Post/Smith Poll found that only 12 percent of Israelis consider Obama to be pro-Israel.

On the substance, the weakest part of Rothman’s argument is that it is predicated on U.S. military cooperation with Israel. Most of this cooperation, however, started long before Obama, and much of the credit belongs to Congress — where Israel is far more popular than at the White House. In addition, this cooperation is not some kind of favor that presidents bestow on Israel. It benefits both sides, and it is dangerous for the future of the relationship to suggest that military collaboration depends on a president’s largesse.

Rothman focuses on military cooperation with Israel because he knows how strong the case that Obama is hostile to Israel is in other areas. Obama had Vice President Joe Biden criticize Israel during a visit to Israel. He tried to undercut Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of his visit to Washington. Obama has pushed Israel on construction of housing projects and tried to establish the start of negotiating efforts with the Palestinians at the 1967 borders — which Israel argues are indefensible.

Rothman notes the pressure President George H.W. Bush put on Israel in the early 1990s. American Jews noticed — and Jewish support for Bush dropped by 24 points between the 1988 and 1992 elections.

Perhaps Rothman’s piece is evidence of his concern that American Jews could give Obama similar treatment.

Tevi Troy

Senior Fellow

Hudson Institute

Troy was a senior White House official under President George W. Bush.

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Israel Political Brief July 26, 2011: Weiner’s Exit Sets Off a Race to Be Israel’s Better Friend

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

Source: NYT, 7-26-11

Ty Cacek/The New York Times

Assemblyman David I. Weprin, center, is a Democrat running against Bob Turner for the House seat Anthony D. Weiner gave up.

 

Assemblyman David I. Weprin, the Democratic candidate to replace former Representative Anthony D. Weiner in a special election on Sept. 13, is a Modern Orthodox Jew who keeps kosher, observes the Sabbath and has been to Israel at least eight times. So it comes as a surprise that, at this early stage of the short campaign, New York’s Ninth Congressional District finds itself talking about an unlikely subject — whether Mr. Weprin, who is unabashedly pro-Israel, is the best pro-Israel advocate.

Uli Seit for The New York Times

Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, in jacket, with Mr. Turner, a Republican, whom Mr. Koch endorsed for Congress on Monday.

Just as a May special election in a conservative district of western New York turned into an unexpected referendum on the Republican Party’s proposals about Medicare, the coming special election in a heavily Jewish district of Brooklyn and Queens is, at least for that district, emerging as a potential referendum on President Obama’s proposals about the Middle East.

“It will be a one-upsmanship on who is more pro-Israel,” said Chris Malone, an associate professor of political science at Pace University.

On Monday, former Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Democrat, endorsed the Republican candidate in the race, Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive, at a press conference at which he stood next to an Israeli flag. Mr. Koch has acknowledged that Mr. Weprin is a strong supporter of Israel, but argued that the election of Mr. Turner would serve as a rebuke to Mr. Obama for saying that Israel’s pre-1967 border should be the basis for a peace agreement.

Both Mr. Weprin, 55, and Mr. Turner, 70, have criticized the president’s position on Israel, and both promote their support for Israel on their campaign Web sites.

But Mr. Koch said that although he and Mr. Weprin had similar political ideals, he had concluded that Mr. Weprin could not be “an effective messenger” to Mr. Obama.

“I said to him that it’s not a personal matter, but I want you to understand that it’s an issue that’s bigger than you and that’s bigger than me,” Mr. Koch said. “The president is not likely to be offended or feel threatened by David Weprin, Democrat from Queens, saying something critical of him.”….READ MORE

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