President Obama faced some painfully ridiculous criticism for his remarks on U.S. policy in Israel, but the most troubling didn’t come from the right. After all, we’re in an environment in which Republicans will condemn the president even when he agrees with them.
It was worse to hear congressional Democrats, some of whom I used to hold in high regard (cough, cough, Robert Andrews, cough), engage in criticism that was every bit as lazy, cheap, and dishonest as anything from the GOP. It was that much more difficult for the public to hear the truth — Obama’s policy is consistent with previous bipartisan administrations’ peace efforts, and even in line with Netanyahu’s own rhetoric — when members of the president’s own party were peddling nonsense.
With that in mind, Greg Sargent raises a good point.
Since it’s being widely reported that many leading Democrats in Congress are criticizing Obama’s stance on the pre-1967 lines, it’s perhaps also worth mentioning that a few Jewish Congressional Dems have stepped forward to defend him. What’s more, these courageous souls, who are considered good on Israel, are also characterizing Obama’s stance accurately, noting that Obama did not call for a return to pre-1967 borders, despite widespread and false claims to the contrary.
What’s particularly interesting here is how few Dems in Congress have been willing to do this, as if it’s simply assumed to be an enormously controversial undertaking.
It appears that there are only four “pro-Israel” House Democrats — Howard Berman of California, Steve Rothman of New Jersey, Gary Ackerman of New York, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida — who’ve defended the president’s position. That’s better than none, though the number should obviously be higher.
A New York Times editorial on the subject today rang true: “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.”
There’s probably no point in even hoping Republicans will be responsible on this, since it’s likely many of them don’t even believe their own rhetoric. But congressional Democrats have to be more sensible — not for Obama’s sake, but for the sake of Israel’s future and that of the peace process.
Berman, Rothman, Ackerman, and Wasserman Schultz are setting a good example. Here’s hoping their colleagues follow their lead.