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Jewish DNC Chair’s Friends and Family Doubt Obama’s Support of Israel

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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz with friend.

Is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz still a friend of Prime Minister Netanyahu?
Photo Credit: Wasserman Schultz Campaign

The Chair of the Democratic National Committee Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), possibly President Obama’s biggest Jewish supporter, can’t convince her own friends and family that he is a friend of Israel.

“I hear the rumors, too,” Wasserman Schultz wrote in the Florida Jewish Journal Tuesday. “I receive the dubious email forwards from friends and family. But no smear campaign can change the fact that the President has not wavered in his support for the Jewish state and effort to curb the Iranian nuclear program.”

Apparently addressing the senders of those dubious emails, she wrote:

President Obama is not naive about the Iranian regime’s threat to Israeli or American security. He understands the grave threat a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to Israel. That’s why the President has repeatedly made clear that no options — including military force — are off the table in dealing with this threat. And that’s why he has consistently demonstrated America’s unbreakable commitment to our closest ally.

When the Washington Free Beacon, which was first to cite the Congresswoman’s op-ed piece in the FJJ, requested clarification on the precise nature of those dubious email messages, Wasserman Schultz’s office did not respond.

Jews have serious reasons to be feeling dubious about the Obama administration “watching Israel’s back,” as the President put it. Some have quickly turned that phrase to “knifing Israel’s back,” in light of earlier statements by senior Administration officials.

Daniel Senor, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, reminded his WSJ readers:

October 2011: Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Israel, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta raised provocative questions about Israel. “Is it enough to maintain a military edge if you’re isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena?”

This characterization of self-created isolation surprised Israeli officials. After all, for almost three years President Obama had pressured Israel to make unilateral concessions in the peace process. And his administration had publicly confronted Israel’s leaders, making unprecedented demands for a complete settlement freeze—which Israel met in 2010.

You can say many things about Jews, but our memory is intact. We remember slights we suffered 3500 years ago, so how can we forget the October 2010 open mike faux pas, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy said to Prisdent Obama: “I can’t stand Netanyahu. He’s a liar.” And Obama, rather than watching his greatest Middle East ally’s back, joined in the merriment, saying: “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.”

A great deal of laughter was shared by all. Except for US Jews, some of whom will probably attend Debbie Wasserman and Steve Schultz’s Passover Seder this year and give them an earful.

The Wasserman-Schultzs probably shouldn’t invite to their seder Commentary’s Jonathan S. Tobin, who wrote:

 No one is disputing that Obama or any Democrat with a pulse will get a majority of Jewish votes in 2012. But neither is there much doubt that there is much chance that he will not get the same 78 percent of Jewish support that he got in 2008. The question is, after three years of distancing himself from Israel and engaging in disputes with the Jewish state, how big will be the drop off this year?


[President Obama’s] standoff with Iran and the president’s willingness to back up his talk on the nuclear question with action, will have a major impact on the Jewish vote this year. The potential for a significant drop off from Obama’s 78 percent — especially if the GOP nominates a candidate not identified with the Christian right — is something that [realistic] Democratic sources are right to take very seriously.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is certainly on Israel’s list of friends in the US Congress, but like many Democrats, her positions are to the left of the current Likud government. In fact, she replaced Congressman Peter Deutsch, her political mentor, whom the Forward dubbed “among the most hawkish congressional Democrats on Middle East issues,” and so her moderate views on the two-state solution can be seen as a sharp turn to the left, in terms of her constituency’s views. She now must balance her national ambitions as one of the stars of her party, against Israel’s simple and straight forward need for defense against a threat to its existence.

Let’s all just keep sending her those dubious emails…

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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