Take It Back, Boehner

In a press release on May 12, House Republican Leader John Boehner said this:

Israel is a critical American ally and a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, not a ‘constant sore’ as Barack Obama claims. Obama’s latest remark, and his commitment to ‘opening a dialogue’ with sponsors of terrorism, echoes past statements by Jimmy Carter who once called Israel an ‘apartheid state.’ It’s another sign that Obama is part of the broken Washington Americans are rejecting.

In fact, Obama claimed no such thing, as a check of his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic demonstrates. Here’s the relevant passage:

JG: What do you make of Jimmy Carter’s suggestion that Israel resembles an apartheid state?
BO: I strongly reject the characterization. Israel is a vibrant democracy, the only one in the Middle East, and there’s no doubt that Israel and the Palestinians have tough issues to work out to get to the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, but injecting a term like apartheid into the discussion doesn’t advance that goal. It’s emotionally loaded, historically inaccurate, and it’s not what I believe.
JG: If you become President, will you denounce settlements publicly?
BO: What I will say is what I’ve said previously. Settlements at this juncture are not helpful. Look, my interest is in solving this problem not only for Israel but for the United States.
JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?
BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable.

In the full interview, Obama went out of his way to praise Israel several different times, in several different ways, and often eloquently. In fact, he answers “no, no, no” when asked if Israel is a “drag on America’s reputation overseas.” What Obama seems to be referring to as a “constant wound” and “constant sore” which “infect[s] all of our foreign policy” is, as best as I can tell, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (or, perhaps, Israel’s settlement policies more narrowly).

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Take It Back, Boehner

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