Can Romney tack to center to pull in Jews? Will economy spoil Obama’s outreach?
James D. Besser
Special To The Jewish Week
As the general election campaign kicks off in earnest, the Jewish strategies of President Barack Obama and the presumptive GOP nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are coming into sharper focus.
A week after the commemoration of one modern genocide and a day before the anniversary of another, President Barack Obama toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington this week and invoked the legacy of the Shoah to pledge government action against future mass murder.
Exposing a rift with Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday insisted that the U.S. has not “given anything away” in recently renewed nuclear talks with Iran.
Obama said he believed there was still time for diplomacy. His assessment, delivered at the close of a Latin American summit in Colombia, came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the U.S. and world powers had given Tehran a “freebie” by agreeing to hold more talks next month.
Let me make clear at the outset: I don’t know what Israel plans to do about the Iran nuclear threat, and I don’t have any new advice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about what actions he should or should not take as he and his government face an impossible dilemma.
But I do know that the mainstream press (and especially The New York Times) has had a steady drumbeat of reports these last few weeks characterizing Israel unfairly in the delicate diplomatic dance of Jerusalem, Washington and Tehran.
A majority of American Jews are welcoming of immigrants, favorably disposed towards American Muslims, support legalizing same-sex marriage, favor legal abortions and oppose overturning the recent health care law, according to a Jewish Values Survey released Tuesday.
It is perhaps no wonder then that the campaigns of this year’s Republican presidential candidates have had little resonance with most American Jews.
Just a day after Monday’s inconclusive U.S.-Israeli summit meeting aimed at forging a unified stance on Iran, the Islamic republic decided to open for inspection a secret military site believed key to its nuclear weapons program and the world powers agreed to restart talks with Iran aimed at ending that disputed program.
But the actions appeared to do little to salve those who fear Iran is determined to develop a nuclear bomb at all costs.
All eyes were on Bibi Netanyahu yesterday as he delivered his AIPAC speech. At times he was disarming, at others bellicose, both emphasizing that Obama has Israel’s back, but that if need be, Israel would go it alone. “The purpose of the Jewish state is to secure the Jewish future,” he thundered. “That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
President Obama said it was still possible to resolve Iran's suspected bid for a nuclear weapon through diplomacy, but added that a military option was still on the table and that containment was not an option.
"I firmly believe that an opportunity remains for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed," Obama told the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference on Sunday in Washington.