Friday, May 20, 2011

Jewish Democrats cool or are distancing themselves from Obama's 1967 border remarks

(Politico).Some Jewish Democrats in Congress are carefully distancing themselves from President Barack Obama’s Thursday Middle East speech, criticizing his call for a two-state solution that would shrink Israel back to borders based on those it had before the “Six Day War” in 1967.

Many others have kept their powder dry, suggesting that they neither want to give Obama’s remarks cover nor publicly excoriate him.

The disagreement between Obama and Netanyahu puts Jewish Democrats in a tough spot, forced to pick between a president of their own party and a country that typically wins their unflagging support. While most have chosen not to speak publicly on the matter, the few who did mostly sided with Israel’s leader.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) said in a statement issued Friday morning:
“A two-state solution agreed upon by the Israelis and Palestinians should be negotiated through direct talks, but it is important to remember that a full return to the 1967 borders will be indefensible for Israel and that talking with terrorists who want to destroy Israel is a non-starter,”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said:
"The president omitted or glossed over several themes, such territorial adjustments would be very significant so that Israel would no longer be nine miles wide at its narrowest point.”
And Rep. Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called the reference to the 1967 borders “gratuitous” in an interview with his hometown paper, Long Island’s Newsday.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), whose wife is a top adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, opened up on the president on Twitter Thursday. “Remind me again, why did the ‘67 borders change? #IsraelAttacked.”

A spokesman for Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Jewish congresswoman from Florida, said she would have no statement until after Obama’s speech at AIPAC.