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Obama losing Jewish support

August 08, 2012

WHO will be next? It’s become a bit of a guessing game as to which prominent Jewish supporter/defender of the president’s Israel policy will be the next to break publicly with him.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has a $6.5m ad campaign on ‘buyer’s remorse’ by Democrats who are now appalled by President Obama’s treatment of the Jewish state. Aaron David Miller, who has served in Democratic administrations and previously offered praise for the president, now says Obama “is not in love with the idea of Israel”.

Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union has privately and publicly defended the president, but he had enough when the president refused to admit Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Now, maybe Obama’s most vocal Zionist backer from 2008, former editor of The New Republic Marty Peretz, who went out on a limb to assure wavering Democrats of the president’s bona fides, lashed out in a scathing denunciation. In an interview in the Wall Street Journal, Peretz unloads on the Obama team’s “great self-deception” that “somehow the president’s tranquillising words and theirs would bring honesty and reason to Russia, to China, to African tyrants and, their biggest bet, to the intersecting orbits of Arab states and... mullahs”.

His harshest words are for Obama’s stance towards Israel. “Obama can’t visit Israel,” Peretz says. “The Israeli public is uncontrollable. There would be a lot of unpleasantness. If he visited the Knesset — the Knesset is one of the most rambunctious parliaments in the world.”

Other prominent Obama supporters, such as Dennis Ross, have essentially acknowledged Obama’s ‘peace process’ efforts led nowhere and then have been conspicuous by their absence in the political campaign.

The job of pro-Obama spinners, including former Florida congressman Robert Wexler and philanthropist Alan Solow, who were engaged by the campaign to try to reassure former Jewish supporters, has become a sort of fool’s errand. The effort to convince pro-Israel Democrats that there is no basis for upset and even anger asks that those knowledgeable about US-Israel relations turn a blind eye towards the last three and a half years.

The Obama spin squad might get more mileage and preserve its integrity if it acknowledged reality: this president’s relationship with Israel has been the most acrimonious of any US president. The team can argue he’s learned his lesson or that he saw the disastrous results of trying to strong-arm Israel in negotiations, but insisting he’s been swell for US-Israel relations sounds increasingly like the claim that the private sector is doing ‘fine’.

If the spinners could be totally honest with fellow Democrats, they would say that as bad as Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been, it’s better than his handling of the US-Israel relationship. Dawn/Washington Post-Bloomberg News