The neoconservative pressure group Emergency Committee For Israel (ECI) is pulling out all the stops ahead of Mitt Romney’s jaunt to Israel. Their latest salvo: television ads that criticize President Obama for not visiting Israel while in office (see above).
On their website, ECI states:
President Obama is quite a world traveler. But not to Israel. An oversight? Or an indication? According to a front-page story in the Washington Post two weeks ago, Obama has pursued a strategy of putting ‘daylight’ between the U.S. and Israel. He’s traveled to the Middle East multiple times — to accept an award in Saudi Arabia, to give a major speech in Cairo, to hold town hall meetings in Turkey — but never stopped to visit our closest ally in the region.
But Obama did visit Israel while he was campaigning for president. And Obama has presided over increased US-Israeli security cooperation and increases in military aid the country receives.
ECI, headed by Iraq War pusher William Kristol, was created in 2010 to attack Obama’s Middle East policy. The group has recently put out ads calling for a confrontational stance with Iran. ECI has also purchased newspaper ads portraying Obama as “emotionally aloof from Israel,” as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported, by printing quotes that question Obama’s Israel policy from mainstream and Democratic sources. But Kristol himself has admitted that he has been “mostly supportive of the Obama administration in the last couple of years.”
The neoconservative group’s salvo against Obama is part of a strategy to paint the president as hostile to Israel. The Obama administration and the Democratic Party have responded by trying to outflank Romney–by proving they can embrace Israel more. While Romney prepares for his trip to Jerusalem, Obama held a signing ceremony at the White House today for a bill that “enhance[s] strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel.”
A version of this article originally appeared on AlterNet’s blog.