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Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 05/27/2011

Breaking: Several Jewish Dems in Congress back Obama on Israel, characterize his stance accurately

Since it’s being widely reported that many leading Democrats in Congress are criticizing Obama’s stance on the pre-1967 lines, it’s perhaps also worth mentioning that a few Jewish Congressional Dems have stepped forward to defend him. What’s more, these courageous souls, who are considered good on Israel, are also characterizing Obama’s stance accurately, noting that Obama did not call for a return to pre-1967 borders, despite widespread and false claims to the contrary.

What’s particularly interesting here is how few Dems in Congress have been willing to do this, as if it’s simply assumed to be an enormously controversial undertaking.

Here’s Dem Rep. Howard Berman, in a new interview that’s getting surprisingly little attention, given that he’s the ranking Dem on the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

“The Republicans, in their never-ending quest to try and persuade Jews to shift their voting, have jumped on this to try to exacerbate that split,’’ Berman said in a Thursday morning interview...

Not only did Obama make clear that he wasn’t calling for a restoration of the pre-war lines, the president has presided over a U.S.-Israel relationship marked by close military ties, cooperation in confronting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and intelligence sharing, Berman said.

Here’s Dem Rep. Steve Rothman, who’s widely seen as pro-Israel:

Despite some efforts to exploit the support for the U.S.-Israel relationship for partisan gain, it has become crystal clear that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu agree on one important detail to any future two state solution: a return to the 1967 lines will be indefensible for the Jewish State of Israel and hurtful to America’s interests in the region.

And here’s Dem Rep. Gary Ackerman, who put out a preemptive strike of a statement defending Obama and bashing his critics even before he spoke:

No matter what the President says, his automatic opponents are going to be opposed. But their objections are not in fact going to have anything to do with Israel or Israel’s security. Their true contention, as has been illustrated by the whole stupid birth certificate thing, is that the President is alien, illegitimate and untrustworthy. That’s their smear and they’re sticking to it.

Ackerman has not put out a statement since Obama’s speech, which can be taken as a sign that his support for the President still stands. I’m checking with his office to confirm this, but for now, put him in the president’s camp.

According to the National Jewish Democratic Council, which tracks this kind of thing, these three (plus Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who doesn’t count, because she’s the head of the DNC) are the only “pro-Israel” Democrats in Congress who have been willing to defend Obama.

In contrast to these Democrats, many others, including some in the Democratic leadership, have been playing a clever little game, in which they attack the idea of a return to pre-1967 borders without quite addressing whether this is actually Obama’s position or not. Apparently, for some Dems in Congress, even accurately characterizing Obama’s position is considered too politically risky a move.

It’s been a bit surprising to me that these Dems aren’t getting a bit more pressure from the left to come clean and admit that the stance they’re attacking isn’t Obama’s stance at all. That’s beginning to change: Today’s New York Times has a very tough editorial blasting Democrats in Congress for their craven pandering on this issue, adding that the attacks on Obama are “not helpful” and are “unusually dishonest.” But beyond a few lonely voices, it’s widely taken for granted that Dems should simply be left to do what they have to do in order to put distance between themselves and Obama on this one subject.

By  |  12:59 PM ET, 05/27/2011

 
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