Obama’s Israel Problem

NEW YORK – On a rare foray outside his native Texas, Governor Rick Perry accused US President Barack Obama of “appeasement” towards the Palestinians. Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch supported a Catholic Republican congressional candidate against a Jewish Democrat in New York, because the Republican supports Israel through thick and thin – and because Obama had voiced reservations about Israel’s expansion of settlements on the West Bank. In Koch’s words, Obama “threw Israel under the bus.” The Republican won.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is rather sensitive about foreigners meddling in domestic Israeli politics, has been openly and consistently courting congressional Republicans by attacking Obama. And Obama’s response? A speech at the United Nations, reiterating his support for Israel, his understanding of Israel’s fears and vulnerability, with barely a mention of Palestinian fears and vulnerability.

What is it about Israel that reduces America’s president to Jell-O? Why, for that matter, are all American politicians so afraid to be critical of Israeli policies? Is it fear of being called an anti-Semite? Or is it the “Jewish vote”?

On the face of it, Democrats don’t have that much to fear. Polls suggest that a majority of Jewish Americans (a mere 1.7% of the US population) still vote for the Democratic Party.