The first shot of what promises to be many that target President Barack Obama’s stance on Israel was fired yesterday when the Emergency Committee for Israel released an ad blasting Obama for siding “with the Palestinians.”
It’s unclear whether the noise about Obama’s call at the State Department for the 1967 borders to be the starting point for negotiations will amount to anything. But the neoconservative group’s ad does contain an important kernel of truth: that support for Israel and its occupation runs across the aisle.
Voiceover: When President Obama sided with the Palestinians, members of both parties stood with Israel.
Harry Reid: Nobody should set premature perimeters about borders.
Steny Hoyer: Israel’s borders must be defensible.
Bob Casey: Jerusalem is the undivided and eternal capitol of Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu: And I see a lot of new friends of Israel here…. Democrats and Republicans alike.
Voiceover: The Emergency Committee for Israel thanks Israel’s true friends, Democrats and Republicans alike.
Obama’s remarks on the borders of Israel were mild, and reflected long-standing U.S. policy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu picked a fight, though, and the Israel lobby went into high-gear. And so you have Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, proclaiming his support for unending occupation when he vows that “Jerusalem is the undivided and eternal capital of Israel.” And you have Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, publicly rebuking Obama–the leader of Reid’s party–for daring to say that the pre-1967 borders should be the starting point for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
This political dynamic of unquestioning support for Israel and its occupation will produce, and already has begun to produce, a rush from Obama and his allies to assure donors and the Jewish establishment that Obama is truly pro-Israel (meaning pro-occupation).
Amid a certain amount of…tsouris…in the Jewish community over Benjamin Netanyahu’s confrontational visit, Danielle Borrin, the Biden aide who serves as Jewish Liaison, emails Jewish leaders the link to “a powerful new resource on the White House website designed to answer any questions about President Obama’s commitment to advancing Israel’s security and supporting peace.”
The extensive talking points, and an op-ed by Rahm Emanuel, represent a new round of pushback against a drumbeat of claims that Obama has, as Romney said, thrown Israel under the bus.
So the fight over Israel in the 2012 elections will not be about which politician is most capable of producing peace. Instead, you will have both Democrats and Republicans fighting over who can support Israel more. And in the meantime, land theft, settlement expansion and the crackdown on Palestinian protest continues without a peep from Israel’s number one ally.
Alex Kane, a freelance journalist and blogger, writes on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the U.S. at alexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.