Commentary Magazine


Not All Democrats Are Drinking Obama’s Kool-Aid on Israel

Not everyone is buying Barack Obama’s attempt to spin his pressure on Israel as “honest” friendship.

Obama is counting on the willingness of American Jews to support his efforts in backing Israel’s elected government into a corner. Though left-wing groups like J Street and the Israel Policy Forum are still no match for AIPAC, Obama must be encouraged by the reports leaked from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meetings with Congress. Reports were published that members of Congress (including some of the Jewish members and others that are generally considered pro-Israel) were peppering Bibi with tough questions and not listening to his explanations of the difference between natural growth in settlements that Israel intended to keep as per understandings with the U.S., and settlement growth in outlying areas.

But today Politico has a report that ought to encourage, at least a little bit, Israelis and their friends here who are attempting to stand up to Obama’s unreasonable pressure.

It turns out that not all members of Congress are drinking Obama’s Kool-Aid on Israel. Among those expressing opposition are Democrats Shelley Berkley and Anthony Weiner. Democrat Gary Ackerman of New York, a man whom the J Street crowd have been counting on to give their anti-Netanyahu offensive some cover, also sounded less than enthusiastic about Obama’s statements.

“I don’t think anybody wants to dictate to an ally what they have to do in their own national security interests,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who said he thinks there’s “room for compromise. I have to hear specifically from the administration exactly how they define their terms and is there room for defining the terms,” he said, referring to the terms “settlement” and “natural growth.”

Can it be that Ackerman is hearing from some of his constituents, including Democrats who were persuaded to vote for Obama because people like him vouched for his pro-Israel bona fides? If so, then perhaps both J Street and Obama may have miscalculated the willingness of Jewish Democrats to go along with a policy that, if it were carried out by a Republican, they would eagerly label “anti-Israel.”