Has Obama lost his Jewish backers?

The president faces a backlash over his efforts to restart Mideast peace talks by insisting that Israel relinquish land it's held since 1967

President Obama's call for Israel to give back territory to Palestinians has turned some Jewish leaders, including former New York Mayor Ed Koch, against the incumbent.
(Image credit: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

President Obama's renewed push for Mideast peace talks has angered prominent Jewish leaders, prompting some of them to reconsider their support for Obama's 2012 re-election bid. Obama said last week that the borders that were in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war should be the starting point for negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state, but Israel says that is unrealistic, as it would make it harder for the country to defend itself. "He has in effect sought to reduce Israel's negotiation power, and I condemn him for that," former New York Mayor Ed Koch told Reuters. Will Obama's Middle East policies hurt his campaign?

Yes, this is a setback for Obama: Prominent Jews have to be wondering whether Obama is an ally when it comes to Israel, says Jim Hoft at Right Network. His "lethal plan would give the Hamas-Fatah terror alliance the Old City of Jerusalem." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a visit to Washington, was forced to lecture the president on "the realities of the Middle East." Unless the president comes around, people will wonder whose side he's on — and with good reason.

"Prominent Jews ponder support for Obama after his 1967 border stunt"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

No, the phony outrage will blow over: The "Right Wing Noise Machine" is trying to whip up a frenzy, says Glenn Greenwald at Salon, to make it seem like Obama is "trying to destroy Israel." But anyone who knows anything about the issue is fully aware that his "call for a peace deal ultimately 'based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps' is not even arguably a change from past American policy." Obama should be given credit for at least trying to pull peace talks out of the mud.

"Obama and the Israel lobby"

Obama did lose some Jews. But most will still vote for him: There's little doubt Obama will win the votes of most people in the heavily Democratic Jewish community, says Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. But there are plenty of dissenters. On Sunday, the president tried to reassure the Jewish lobbying group AIPAC of his commitment to Israel's security after his controversial Middle East speech, and part of the crowd remained convinced he's taking the Palestinians' side. Clearly, "Obama has divided the Jewish community like no other president."

"Reaction to Obama's AIPAC speech"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.