J Street blasts back at Gingrich

Newt Gingrich attacked President Obama’s Middle East policies Sunday night, and J Street didn’t waste much time returning fire.

The left-wing pro-Israel group e-mailed a message to supporters early Monday afternoon asking its supporters to "fight back now" by signing a petition opposing Gingrich’s "failed Bush-Cheney views on the Middle East."

"Political pundits and journalists might think that Gingrich and those who applauded his remarks speak for the majority of American friends of Israel, when they certainly don’t speak for you and me. Congress may consider supporting Gingrich’s recycled Bush-Cheney views, which would be a disaster for Israel and the United States."

Gingrich, as the J Street e-mail states, did blast Obama in an interview with Hilary Leila Krieger of The Jerusalem Post before his speech, saying Obama was "systematically setting up the most decisive confrontation that we’ve ever seen" with Israel and saying that "there’s almost an eagerness to take on the Israeli government to make a point with the Arab world." He added that Obama’s policy of engagement with Iran was a "fantasy" and called his Middle East policies "dangerous to Israel."

But in his speech to AIPAC, Gingrich actually attacked the Bush-Cheney admnistration’s policies in the Middle East, saying that the "tragedy" of the last administration was that it combined "two enormous weaknesses." The first was inarticulateness, a problem the former Speaker of the House noted that the Obama adminstration won’t have. The second, he said, is that "the threats we are faced with are far more catastrophic than any of our leaders are willing to talk about, and the challenges of unlocking those catastrophes are much harder than any of our leaders have been prepared to talk about. The challenge of the Bush administration wasn’t that it tried too much; it was that it underestimated dramatically how hard this is going to be."

Gingrich’s criticism of Obama in his speech was much less explicit than the Post interview. He did not mention Obama by name in the address, but did take a shot at the president’s willingness to engage with Iran.

"Talking in good faith with Adolf Hitler and seeking reconciliation with Adolf Hitler would’ve been a complete dead loser, because he was in fact the personification of evil, and as long as he was in charge, all humanity was at risk," said Gingrich. "Ahmadinejad, if he gets the weapons, will be every bit as evil as Hitler. He tells us this all the time, and only our unwillingness to admit that two plus two equals four blocks us from seeing what he is doing."

While Gingrich did receive applause for that line in the hall, it actually contradicts AIPAC’s policy on Iran. President David Victor said in his speech Monday morning that "we supoport the administration’s effort to explore direct diplomacy as a means of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."

The former speaker also said that because "the leading funder of Sunni extremism on the planet is Saudi Arabia," that "rather than bow to the king, we need a national energy policy to liberate the United States." Gingrich was referring to an incident a few weeks ago in which the president bowed when he met Saudi King Abdullah at the G-20 summit, but former President Bush was hardly known for getting tough with the Saudis or developing a national energy policy, and actually held the king’s hand in 2005 when Abdullah visited his Crawford, Texas ranch.

(At last week’s CAMERA dinner in New York, Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-N.Y.) said U.S. leaders shouldn’t hold the hand or bow to King Abdullah, but the crowd only booed the second reference. He responded, "Don’t boo one and not the other, my brother.")

After the jump is J Street’s complete action alert:[[READMORE]]

To thunderous applause last night, Newt Gingrich attacked President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East, promoted military action against Iran, and assailed diplomatic engagement as weakness at AIPAC’s conference. [1]

Just before he went on stage, Gingrich told The Jerusalem Post that the President’s policy with Israel and Iran was a "fantasy" and that Obama was "endangering Israel" by trying to work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [2]

Is this some kind of bad horror movie? Just when we thought the 2008 election had finally discredited the disastrous foreign policy of George Bush and Dick Cheney, Gingrich spouts the same old failed ideas in primetime and thinks it’s good politics.

We need to fight back right now — political pundits and journalists might think that Gingrich and those who applauded his remarks speak for the majority of American friends of Israel, when they certainly don’t speak for you and me. Congress may consider supporting Gingrich’s recycled Bush-Cheney views, which would be a disaster for Israel and the United States.

We’ve got to make it crystal clear that the majority of our community stands with President Obama on Israel and Iran – so Congress and the media see how politically toxic and substantively wrong Gingrich’s views really are.

Click here to defend President Obama from Newt Gingrich’s attacks.

We’ll use the tens of thousands of signatures we collect to talk to the media about how out of the mainstream Gingrich and his views are – so make sure you add your signature.

On the politics, Newt’s got it wrong.

78% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama and over 70% of American Jews support President Obama’s policies toward Israel and the Middle East. [3] Gingrich’s views represent a small, though politically outspoken, minority of the Jewish community.

On substance, Newt’s also dead wrong.

Pursuing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most pro-Israel thing President Obama could do right now. It’s the only way to secure Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland, as well as a building block of regional peace efforts that would normalize relations between all Arab countries and Israel.

On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that the diplomatic road ahead will be tough and that we will not be bound by any illusions. This is the right approach for the time being – and a welcome change after the last President’s Axis-of-Evil approach that got us nowhere.

The politics of this moment are incredibly important – imagine if we can collect tens of thousands of signatures from our community rejecting Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Obama. Next time someone wants to attack President Obama on Israel and the Middle East, they’ll think twice.

Click here to stand up for President Obama’s Middle East agenda.

After you’ve taken action, be sure to spread the word to your friends and family. We’ll need to expand our reach if we’re going to send a loud enough message that Newt doesn’t speak for us.

Thanks so much.

- Isaac

Isaac Luria

Campaigns Director

J Street

May 4, 2009

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