The new ad (viewable below) from Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel indicates that the Republican strategy to turn President Obama’s Israel diplomacy against him is nuanced: Single him out by noting all the members of his own party (as well as Republicans) whose stances are ostensibly more pro-Israel than his. The strategy is valid: Those aren’t doctored tapes of Democratic congressional leaders Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer rebuking the president at the AIPAC Conference—that really did happen.
A defense of the president would note that presidents are always to the left of Congress on Israel and other issues like it, since senators and especially representatives have the luxury of not actually dictating U.S. foreign policy and can gear what they say purely toward domestic political considerations. But ECI’s response would note that this truism proves that the vast majority of the country is pro-Israel, and that should be reflected in the president’s rhetoric and policies.
Which is why the real defense of the president is that (for the umpteenth time) he did not “throw Israel under the bus”—did not, as the false headline that begins the ad reads, “Embrace Palestine Borders.” On nine-tenths of the issues, he took positions identical to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s; and on 1967 borders, he said explicitly what has long been assumed by several Israeli prime ministers and American presidents (including George W. Bush, another U.S. chief executive who by necessity was to the left of much of Congress on this issue). As one commentator put it during Obama’s now-controversial speech, “Obama’s line on Israel/Palestine borders is basically identical to Bush admin. Nothing new there.” This commentator added, “I don’t think there’s anything in this speech that Netanyahu will find surprising or even disagreeable.” The commentator in question is ECI spokesperson Noah Pollak.
Israel and 2012 [Ben Smith]
The Emergency Committee For Israel Was For The ’67 Borders Before It Was Against Them [Think Progress Security]
Earlier: Will Israel-Based GOP Attacks Get Through?
Bibi Gets What He Wants, Replies With Scorn
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.