Obama flaunts record on Israel, Iran

Jewish state’s security is nonnegotiable, says president.

US President Barack Obama smile 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
US President Barack Obama smile 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama defended his record on Israel and Iran at a fundraiser in New York Thursday night, pushing back against a frequent line of Republican attacks.
“We’re not going to tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of this Iranian regime,” Obama told about 100 predominantly Jewish supporters who each paid at least $5,000 to attend.
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“We’ve been able to organize folks like China and Russia that previously would have never gone along with something like this,” he said. “And it’s been so effective that even the Iranians have had to acknowledge that their economy is in a shambles.”
Obama also declared that since he’d been in office he has unequivocally said Israel’s security is nonnegotiable, and that he will do everything to make sure Israel is able to thrive and prosper as a secure Jewish state.
He said the two countries now had the strongest military cooperation that they have ever had.
“That’s not my opinion, by the way, that’s the Israeli government’s opinion.” Obama allies have been highlighting videos that show Israeli political leaders making similar statements.
And while many in the American Jewish community have been concerned about how changes in Arab governments due to the Arab Spring could affect Israel, Obama reassured his audience.
“We are pushing hard on countries like Egypt to make sure that they continue to abide by the peace treaties that have served both countries well.”
Republicans have tried to use Obama’s posture towards Israel and Iran against him, believing they see an opening for a winning strategy among a constituency that has historically voted overwhelmingly Democrat.
Israel and other issues of foreign policy took a back seat at the Republican debate held Thursday, the last before Saturday’s primary in South Carolina.
The Anti-Defamation League strongly condemned the column.
“There is absolutely no excuse, no justification, no rationalization for this kind of rhetoric. It doesn’t even belong in fiction. These are irresponsible and extremist words. It is outrageous and beyond the pale. An apology cannot possibly repair the damage,” National Director Abraham Foxman said.
Former speaker of the US House Newt Gingrich was received well by the audience, and his performance was seen as giving added momentum to his bid to unseat front-runner Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.
Polls show Gingrich taking a significant bite out of Romney’s lead, which had been in the double digits until recent days. Romney has also been damaged by results reversing his win of the Iowa caucuses and putting it in the hands of Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator, and Rick Perry’s decision to drop out.
Perry, the governor of Texas, was fighting Gingrich and Santorum for the support of Christian conservatives, who have been largely wary of Romney, and his endorsement of Gingrich could help the latter prevail.
Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, was quoted on MSNBC describing Romney’s lead as “collapsing.”
The latest Gallup national poll shows Romney leading Gingrich by 30 percent to 20%, but Romney had recently been leading Gingrich by 23 points.