Republican and Democratic Jews traded barbs over Ralph Nader’s characterization of Barack Obama’s Israel policy.
Nader, the consumer activist, on Sunday announced another independent run for the presidency, saying the candidates were not dealing with what he called “off the table” topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Don’t touch that, even though it’s central to our security and to the situation in the Middle East,” is how Nader described the candidates’ Israel policy to NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. senator from Illinois, was “pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate. Now he’s supporting the Israeli destruction of the tiny section called Gaza with a million-and-a-half people,” Nader said said. “He’s not taking a leadership position in supporting the Israeli peace movement, which represents former Cabinet ministers, people in the Knesset, former generals, former security officials, in addition to mayors and leading intellectuals.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition said Nader’s remarks “added to the debate” about Obama’s views on Israel.
“When a longtime political activist like Ralph Nader, with a well-documented, anti-Israel bias, claims that Senator Obama shares this anti-Israel bias, that is alarming,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.
Jewish Democrats said Nader was unreliable.
“Senator Obama has a lifelong commitment to Israel’s security,” U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Obama’s key Jewish supporter, told JTA. “In the Illinois state Senate he was a champion of Israel Bonds.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council mocked Brooks for using Nader as a reliable source.
“They are basically saying ignore this United States senator’s strong pro-Israel voting record, positions and rhetoric, and instead listen to Ralph Nader,” an NJDC statement said “Since when did Ralph Nader become the arbiter of who is and is not pro-Israel?”