Last week’s Republican Jewish Coaltion (RJC) Presidential candidates forum offered a venue for all the GOP’s presidential hopefuls — except Ron Paul — to criticize President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship. But Washington Jewish Week’s Adam Kredo reports that Israel’s ambassador, Michael Oren, had nothing but kind words for Obama at a Hanukkah party hosted on Thursday of last week by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.).
Oren reportedly told a story about asking Obama for fire fighting assistance when forest fires swept through Israel’s Carmel Forest last year:
Netanyahu directed his ambassador to, “Quick, go ask President Obama for help.”
That’s when Oren entered the White House and asked to see the president.
“I told him the situation and without hesitation, President Obama turned to one of his aides and said, ‘get Israel whatever it needs. Now,’ “ Oren recalled. […]
“Later that night,” Oren continued, “I learned, that the President left the Hanukkah reception and flew secretly to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, he called Washington and the first question he asked, ‘Has Israel gotten its planes?’ He also called Prime Minister Netanyahu and expressed his condolences for Israel’s losses and America’s commitment to Israel’s wellbeing.”
Oren’s story of close cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, not to mention Obama’s clear commitment to Israel’s well-being and security, flies in the face of the accusations liberally thrown around the RJC’s event.
Mitt Romney claimed, “Over the last three years President Obama has… chastened Israel.” Rick Perry accused the administration of a “torrent of hostility” toward Israel. And Newt Gingrich criticized the administration for failing to reprimand “the Secretary of Defense for an insulting performance the other day” after Leon Panetta called for Israelis and Palestinians to “get to the damn [negotiating] table.”
But listening to Michael Oren’s story of Obama’s commitment to Israel, it’s unclear how or when Obama has been anything less than a committed ally to Israel. And just last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reflected on Obama’s security guarantees to Israel, concluding, “he has backed those words with deeds.” While Republican presidential candidates may see attacking Obama’s pro-Israel credentials as a useful campaign ploy, Israel’s prime minister and ambassador to the U.S. are telling a very different story of the White House’s relationship with the Jewish state.