Republicans have reacted with a mixture of disgust and bemusement at President Obama’s patting himself on the back for his Israel policy The Mitt Romney campaign put out this statement:
President Obama, in New York to raise campaign cash, told a group of prospective donors that ‘We don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.’ That would be great news, if it were true. Unfortunately, under the Obama Administration, U.S.-Israeli relations have hit a low not seen since the Jimmy Carter years. It is not merely the way that President Obama has disparaged Israel’s prime minister in public and private. U.S. policy itself is at issue. Whether the question is peace talks with the Palestinians, or defining Israel’s borders, or keeping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the administration has repeatedly scanted Israel’s interests. Words uttered behind closed doors in a campaign fundraiser in New York are one thing. Actions that have repeatedly thrown Israel under the bus are another.
Likewise, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) put up on this response on his Facebook page:
At an event last night, President Obama reportedly claimed his administration has done more for Israel ‘than any previous administration.’ Are you kidding me? This is the same White House that wants Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1967 borders. Where I’m from, we stand by our friends, especially the ones who have always stood by us.
Support for Israel, more than any other foreign policy issue, has become a touchstone for conservatives, a symbol of solidarity with Jewish and evangelical voters and an all-purpose affirmation of the need for a foreign policy based on our values, one that is loyal to friends and stands up to its enemies. That in large part explains why seven candidates will be appearing next week at a presidential forum of the Republican Jewish Coalition. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who happens to be a prominent Mitt Romney surrogate, will be the luncheon’s keynote speaker.
The RJC did not invite Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and added insult to injury with a statement put out by its executive director. The Washington Jewish Week reports:
Paul was not invited to attend the RJC’s candidates forum because the organization - as it has stated numerous times in the past - “rejects his misguided and extreme views,” said [Matt] Brooks.
“He’s just so far outside of the mainstream of the Republican party and this organization,” Brooks said. Inviting Paul to attend would be “like inviting Barack Obama to speak.”
The reactions to Obama and the turnout for the RJC forum highlight that, while Democrats think Obama’s success in killing Osama bin Laden and assisting in operation that led to Moammar Gaddafi’s execution make him invincible on national security, Republicans certainly don’t agree. On U.S.-Israel relations, Iran, Russia, defense spending and human rights (to name a few), Republicans will have plenty to say about Obama’s shortcomings at this event and throughout the general election. If Republicans choose wisely (selecting a nominee who doesn’t scare off voters beyond the base) they may equal or top the share of the Jewish vote (39 percent) attained by Ronald Reagan.