One of the first speakers at AIPAC’s policy conference wasted no time in wading into partisan politics. During the opening foreign policy roundtable, former US State Department official and daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, attacked President Obama’s record on Israel.
“No US president has done more to delegitimize and undermine the state of Israel than president Obama,” she said. “I predict that when we meet here next year, it will be to restore the relationship of the United States and Israel under a new American president.”
Former Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, Cheney’s co-panelist, responded with a plea not to turn Israel into a “political football.”
David A. Harris, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), called Cheney’s remarks “disrespectful to AIPAC, disrespectful to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who addressed the group right after Cheney, and disrespectful to President Obama.”
“Liz Cheney’s deeply, deeply partisan shot was an unfortunate tenor to start the conference on,” he said. “It was denigrating and doesn’t square with the record.”
In an interview with the Times of Israel, Harris said Obama’s speech to the group, “was a powerful recitation of President Obama’s command of the issues.”
“The most important, clarion thing President Obama had to say, though, is where he stands on Iran — his commitment to ensuring that Iran does not acquire a weapon and the close cooperation with Israel on all of its security needs. Looking back over the last three years, there can’t be a question about this president’s record when it comes to ensuring that Israel’s security needs are met.
“Obama also spelled out further than he ever has all the tools he has in his arsenal when it comes to dealing with Iran. Diplomatic, political and military. The military is the last one he’s wisely willing to employ. And it’s not a favor for Israel. Stopping Iran is in America’s national security interests and that of every country on earth,” Harris added.
The NJDC’s political counterpart, The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), issued this statement from RJC head Matt Brooks:
“President Obama once again came before the AIPAC conference with a speech where his strong rhetoric does not match his administration’s weak record on support of Israel. President Obama said, ‘As you examine my commitment, you don’t just have to count on my words, you can look at my deeds.’
“Obama’s deeds include unprecedented pressure on Israel not to build in its eternal capital of Jerusalem, cutting critical military aid to joint US-Israel missile defense program in a time of need, adopting as US policy the Palestinian demand that Israel accept ’1967 borders with land swaps’ as the basis for a final settlement, and failing to holding Palestinian leaders accountable for their refusal to keep their peace-process commitments.
“Mr. President, we have examined your deeds and they demonstrate that you are not providing the support that Israel needs,” read the statement.
”Everything in Washington is a political football during an election year,” said one AIPAC delegate.