It’s being widely reported that many leading Dems in Congress are attacking Obama’s stance on Israel.
So it needs to be stated as clearly as possible that this isn’t what Dems are doing at all. Rather, they are attacking a position on Israel that Obama does not hold.
To be sure, a few Dems are attacking Obama; Dem Rep. Rob Andrews, for instance, is making the reprehensible claim that Obama “tilted towards Hamas.”
But most Democrats are saying something else entirely. They are simply declaring opposition to the idea that Israel should “return” to its 1967 borders. As it happens, that idea isn’t Obama’s position.
For instance, the Hill is reporting today that Senate Democrats may “rebuff” Obama by supporting a resolution that declares support for Israel. But a draft of the resolution says that “it is contrary to the U.S. policy and national security to have the borders of Israel return to the boundaries of 1949 or 1967.” A companion version of this in the House that I’ve seen contains similar language.
But Obama does not support returning Israel to the boundaries of 1949 or 1967. Rather, as he laid out in his speech to AIPAC on Sunday, he supports a peace framework based on the pre-1967 lines with land swaps, which is not the same thing at all:
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. That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means.
It’s fair to question Obama’s failure to make this point as clearly as he could have in his earlier speech on the Arab Spring, because if he had, much of the controversy might have been avoided. It’s also true that the Dems who are now declaring their opposition to a return to pre-1967 borders are implicitly — and in a few cases explicitly — criticizing Obama’s initial lack of clarity. But now that Obama has made his stance clear, it really needs to be understood that most Dems are not criticizing his actual position at all. Rather, they are simply reaffirming their opposition to something that Obama, too, opposes: A return to pre-1967 borders.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what staunch “pro-Israel” Democrat Steve Rothman said in a statement:
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.
Given how determined some folks are to distort what’s actually happening in order to paint Obama as anti-Israel, it’s crucial that other Dems who are reaffirming their opposition to a return to 1967 also make this point as clearly as possible.