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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 01:47 PM ET, 05/23/2011

Why are Dems misrepresenting Obama’s Israel stance?

It’s a point that’s gotten a bit lost: Some Congressional Democrats are also attacking Obama’s 1967 lines proposal.

Intra-Dem differences over policy are to be expected. But what makes this particularly galling, as Matthew Yglesias notes, is that they’re misrepresenting it in precisely the same fashion conservatives are, insisting that Obama called for a return to the 1967 borders (which he didn’t) and obscuring or downplaying the fact that Obama made longstanding U.S. policy official (which he did):

It’s noteworthy that these attacks not only involve misrepresenting what Obama said, but that many of them are coming from members of Barack Obama’s party. So in sum what we saw this week is that the President of the United States made it clear that he disagrees with the regional policy of the Israeli government, but despite that disagreement intends to keep Israel as the number one recipient of U.S. foreign aid and that he also intends to put America’s diplomatic clout at Israel’s disposal in the coming controversy over a Palestinian declaration of statehood. Meanwhile, despite Obama’s lack of desire to shift U.S. policy, he’s subject to opportunistic political attacks from members of the opposition party, attacks which are echoed rather than rebutted by members of his own political coalition.

It’s one thing for Congressional Dems to have a principled disagreement with Obama over his Mideast policies. It’s quite another for them to, unwittingly or not, actively aid and abet efforts to distort those policies. These Democrats — who include Reps. Eliot Engel and Steve Rothman — should be asked why Holocaust survivor Abraham Foxman is wrong to disagree with the widespread characterization of Obama’s speech as a “return” to 1967 borders.

What’s more, after those Democrats put out their statements faulting Obama’s proposal, the President gave a speech to AIPAC in which he spelled out his policies even more clearly. He said:

Let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means. By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.

I think one could make a fair case that Obama could have saved himself a great deal of criticism if he had spelled his plan out in these terms during his Friday speech. Dems might not have responded as they did if he had. But still, now that he has done so belatedly, surely those Democrats will be retracting their criticism of his proposal, or at least their characterization of it. After all, failing to do that will only help spread more misinformation, sow more confusion, and make further dialog about this very complex, emotional and difficult topic even harder. They wouldn't want to do that, would they?

By  |  01:47 PM ET, 05/23/2011

 
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