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Democrats Laud Obama's 'Pro-Israel' Record

Sensing that Israel may be Obama's Achilles heel, the DNC is seeking to inoculate Obama against attack as AIPAC prepares to meet
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/29/2012, 9:55 PM

Netanyahu and Obama
Netanyahu and Obama
Reuters

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has made an aggressive pre-buttal against potential attacks on President Barack Obama over the AIPAC conference slated to run from March 4-6.

The DNC is concerned that Obama's policy on Israel – with whom relations are at a startling nadir – will become a major point of contention and open the door to attacks by Republican candidates seeking to capitalize on Israel as a talking point in their campaigns.

The unprecedented move by the DNC mirrors an announcement that Republican contenders Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney will be joining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Obama as speakers at the AIPAC conference.

DNC officials sent the Jewish press, activists and the general media a video featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying in May of 2011, "President Obama spoke about his ironclad commitment to Israel's security. He rightly said that our security cooperation is unprecedented and he has backed those words with deeds."

The voice-over in the one-minute video also says, "The bond between the US and Israel – it's always been beyond politics. But now Washington Republicans are breaking that tradition"

"Launching negative ads that the Associated Press says 'ignore reality.' The facts? Under President Obama US funding for Israel is at an all-time high. Billions for Israel's security," it claims.

It also features video clips from when then-Senator Obama toured Israel and newspaper clips showing $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel. Obama has yet to visit the country as President.

Analysts say the video demonstrates the Obama administration – which has been in a series of high profile rows with Israeli leaders in recent months – is concerned that public perceptions of its treatment of the Jewish state could be a re-election breaker.

America's Jewish vote, while small, is concentrated in key electoral college states where victory in previous elections has been hotly contested, or achieved by mere thousands of votes.

Israel has also become a major issue for pro-Israel Americans, with divisions between Washington and Jerusalem over Iran's nuclear program leading to sharp questioning of senior officials in the Obama administration by US lawmakers.

Leaks by the Obama administration compromising Israel's standing in its face-off with Iran, and potentially compromising Israeli military plans, have also backfired on the White House and created a perception of active hostility towards Jerusalem.

So has the growing perception that administration officials – seeking to break the ice with Tehran amid the nuclear standoff – are giving both Jerusalem and Riyadh the cold shoulder.

With support for Israeli riding high among American voters, and Obama polling neck-and-neck with Romney and Santorum, the DNCs pre-buttal may set the tone for Netanyahu's meeting with Obama in the White House on March 5.