GOP Freshman Rep. Walsh Attacks American Jews For Not Being "As Pro-Israel As They Should Be"

May 26, 2011 11:53 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Since President Obama's speech on the Middle East last week, many of his political opponents have latched on to the manufactured controversy over the president's broad outline of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Today, the misleading attacks reached a new low when Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), a Tea Party favorite, not only declared that Obama has "abandoned the 50-year-old U.S. alliance with Israel" but also criticized Jewish Americans for their lack of outrage. In an op-ed in the Daily Caller, Walsh complains that "too many American Jews aren't as pro-Israel as they should be."

President Obama has effectively abandoned the 50-year-old U.S. alliance with Israel.

So, where is the outrage from the American Jewish community? Don't they understand that the president is not pro-Israel? Aren't they troubled by his history of pro-Palestinian writings, speeches, and actions? The short answer is that most American Jews are liberal, and most American liberals side with the Palestinians and vague notions of "peace" instead of with Israel's wellbeing and security. Like the president, the U.N., and most of Europe, too many American Jews aren't as pro-Israel as they should be and too many share his belief that the Palestinians are victims of Israeli occupation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Walsh's lecture about what Jews "should" believe is obscene (note: he's Catholic), but he is right that the Jewish community is largely satisfied with Obama's current approach to the Middle East. Indeed, the American Jewish Commitee and Anti-Defamation League both issued press releases applauding the president's speech. ADL president Abe Foxman, who has not hesitated to criticize Obama in the past, firmly rejected the notion that the president threw Israel "under the bus."

The reason for their lack of outrage, of course, is that Obama didn't say anything particularly outrageous. The main source of controversy has been the president's familiar vision of two states "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" — a longstanding framework that Obama's critics have misrepresented as a demand for Israel to retreat to "pre-1967 borders."

Obama also came out against Palestinian plans to declare statehood at the U.N. in September and put the onus on Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. And, as he pointed out in his address to AIPAC, the president has increased financial aid to Israel and military cooperation to "record levels."

Simply put, Walsh's over-the-top claim that the president has "abandoned" the U.S.-Israel alliance has no basis in reality. Next time, Walsh should at least get his facts straight before telling members of another religion what to think.

For more on House Republicans misrepresenting Obama's stance on Middle East peace, click here.

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