Only a few minutes after President Obama finished his carefully balanced speech on the Middle East last week, Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers began tPresident Obama has thrown Israel under the bus, said Mitt Romney. Tim Pawlenty wrongly said Mr. Obama had called for Israel to return to its 1967 borders, which he called a disaster waiting to happen. Rick Santorum said Mr. Obama just put Israels very existence in more peril.
Others went even further. Representative Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, a former presidential candidate, said Mr. Obama had betrayed Israel. The worst line came from Representative Allen West of Florida, who somehow believes Mr. Obama wants to keep Jews away from the Western Wall and wants to see the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state.
Some Democrats were also piling on, evidently afraid Republicans will paint them as anti-Israel. It was not helpful when Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said that no one outside of the talks should urge the terms of negotiation, clearly repudiating the presidents attempts to do just that. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, and other Democrats have made similar statements.
Pandering on Israel in the hopes of winning Jewish support is hardly a new phenomenon in American politics, but there is something unusually dishonest about this fusillade. Most Republicans know full well that Mr. Obama is not calling on Israel to retreat to its 1967 borders. He said those borders, which define the West Bank and Gaza, would be the starting point for talks about land swaps.
Do the presidents critics even agree on the need for a Palestinian state next to Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel says he does It is not clear that several of the Republicans would go as far as the prime minister, who at least noted that Mr. Obama does not want to return to the 1967 lines. But even those who do should admit that two-state proposals have always been along the lines sketched out by the president.
In 2007, for example, Mr. Romney told The Jerusalem Post that his administration would actively work toward a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What could the outline of that solution be if not the one Mr. Obama mentioned Mr. Romney doesnt address that question in his speeches. It is one thing to make noise on the campaign trail. It is quite another to lead a quest for peace.wisting his words to suggest that he was calling for an epochal abandonment of Israel.