Obama tells Jewish donors he strongly backs Israel

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:17pm EDT

President Barack Obama waves as he walks out from Thomas Sweet ice cream in Washington June 19, 2011. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

President Barack Obama waves as he walks out from Thomas Sweet ice cream in Washington June 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama reassured Jewish donors on Monday he strongly supports Israel, stressing close ties between the United States and the Jewish state, but also emphasizing that changes in the Middle East will require a fresh look at the region.

"Both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes. It's not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things," Obama said at the first of two big-ticket fund-raisers where he was speaking on Monday evening.

He addressed the crowd of about 80 people a month after a speech on the Middle East that exposed a rift between the United States and Israel. At Monday's dinner, hosted by Americans in Support of a Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship, he said his administration had done more than any for 25 years to support Israel's security.

"The most important message I have for all of you here tonight is that, even as we try to manage what is going to be a very difficult and challenging situation over the next 12 months, the next 24 months, the next decade, that one inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends," Obama said to applause.

Although some conservatives have been attacking Obama's policies toward Israel, members of the audience greeted Obama with applause. They had paid $25,000 to $35,800 each to attend what a Democratic National Committee official said was a sold-out event.

"That bond isn't breakable and ... Israel's security will always be at the top tier of considerations in terms of how America manages its foreign policy," Obama said. "... Israel is our closest ally and friend. It is a robust democracy. It shares our values and it shares our principles."

Obama spoke for about seven minutes before beginning what he said he expected to be a "substantive" question and answer session with the group. Reporters were ushered from the hotel meeting room before the questioning began.

Obama said in a speech on May 20 that long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians should start on the basis of Israel's 1967 borders, an assertion that infuriated Israeli leaders, exposed a rift between the two allies and raised further doubts about peace prospects.

He gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington's most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group three days later that seemed to soothe some tensions, but also served as a reminder that his peace formula could cost support among Jewish and pro-Israel voters and donors as he runs for re-election in 2012.

More than two years into his presidency, Obama has little to show for his effort to revive direct negotiations between the two sides apart from a few weeks when they resumed in September before unraveling.

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (9)
bck555 wrote:
And just wait until you see that bridge he has to sell you. The bridge was built to cross a ravine called “trust”, but unfortunately it starts and ends at the exact same spot and doesn’t cross anything.

Jun 20, 2011 9:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EN3 wrote:
Of course he is going to say that, He needs every small group there is to get his presidency re elected. He can stand on his record of promises.
Promised to get us out of the iraq war
Promise to get us out of afghanistan
Promise to be close guantanamo bay
Promised to help the middle class
Promise to fix the economy
Promise to make the tax structure fair and equitable
Promise not to be a warhawk like george w bush aka libya
promise that with his new healthcare plan companies in corporations would not drop health care for people and just pay the fine yes what looks like that’s going to happen
the list goes on and on.
but most of all president obama’s promise of hope just turned into, “NOPE”

Jun 20, 2011 10:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
Quite frankly, it sickens me to see how much control the israeli lobbyists and monies have over this country.

Jun 20, 2011 12:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.