In a debate last night with Jeremy Ben Ami of the liberal pro-Israel group J Street, neoconservative don Bill Kristol told the audience in the New York synagogue that he had no problems with President Obama’s Israel policies. But just two months ago, a right-wing pro-Israel group Kristol heads rolled out the latest of its serial attacks on Obama’s policies toward Israel.
The Weekly Standard editor praised Obama and said the difference between Obama’s Israel policies and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s “is not that great.” Kristol stated that he was “happy to agree with Obama to a considerable degree.” He went on:
I’ve been mostly supportive of the Obama administration in the last couple of years…
I think President Obama has moved sufficiently on these issues from the Cairo speech in 2009 to the AIPAC speech of two months ago, that the difference between the parties is less than it was.
But as Haaretz and WNYC pointed out, the Kristol-led Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) consistently lambasts Obama on Israel. The group ran ads in Washington around its campaign asserting Obama was “not pro-israel.” In December, Kristol, in an ECI statement, said Obama “keeps acting to weaken the security of the state of Israel.” (Earlier that year, right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Kristol frequently praises, said that under the Obama administration “our security cooperation is unprecedented.”)
Just two months ago — far from the “last couple years” Kristol has been “supportive” of Obama’s policies — the hedge fund-bankrolled ECI released a 30-minute anti-Obama online film, complete with ominous music. In the film, Kristol associate Liz Cheney says Obama attempted to “put distance” between the U.S. and Israel. Neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer says Obama “delegitimized” Israel, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Lee Smith said Obama’s “narrative fit [a] rejectionist and resentful narrative.”
This isn’t the first time ECI’s attacks on the Obama administration’s Israel policies have been revealed as disingenuous political maneuvers. Last May, ECI executive director Noah Pollak, commenting via Twitter, publicly praised Obama’s speech on the Middle East, but ECI later condemned the speech in an attack ad. When ThinkProgress revealed the hypocrisy, Kristol disowned the tweets in comments to the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin. Rubin added: “Kristol graciously avoided pointing out that while Pollak has the executive director title, the group is firmly under the control of Kristol and his two co-founders.”
With ECI “firmly under the control of Kristol,” and with Kristol now “happy to agree with Obama to a considerable degree” on Israel, will the organization lay off its right-wing attacks on the president? “We’re trying to decide,” Kristol told WNYC.
Here’s the video of Kristol’s comments from the debate: