Menu JTA Search

Obama, GOP lawmakers and a GOP-leaning constituency

We covered last week’s speech by President Obama to AIPAC, and his meeting the next day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lots of responses have emerged, naturally, but the following two are striking because they make the same request in sharply different ways, yet represent similar constiuencies.

The first is from 86 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, many of them affiliated with the Republican Study Committee, the party’s conservative caucus.

It was initiated by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and calls on the president to more robustly defend Israel:

Your perceived wavering and equivocal support, coupled with anti-Israel developments in Iran and countries that have experienced Islamist and Salafist upheavals in government related to "Arab Spring" have left many in Israel feeling isolated and abandoned.

And regarding Iran:

Your administration has consistently downplayed and even potentially frustrated Israel’s understandable consideration of the use of force to protect itself.

Now consider the letter sent today by the Orthodox Union — an umbrella group that is studiously nonpartisan but represents a constituency that, its leaders acknowledge, votes GOP in the same proportions that Jews generally vote Democratic, 3-1:

[[READMORE]]

As recently as last week, you publicly spoke of your unshakable commitment to the security of the State of Israel and your Administration’s proactive efforts to strengthen that security.  Among those efforts, you cited the financial support the United States has provided for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system.

In the space of but a few days that have passed since your statements, we now see terrorists in the Gaza Strip launching scores of rockets at innocent Israeli communities forcing schools to close and men, women and children to spend the day crouching in fear near bomb shelters.  Thankfully, the Iron Dome has performed remarkably well and, to date, prevented civilian casualties from the terrorists’ attacks.  We write to express our appreciation to your Administration for providing the material support that is saving lives today.

Last week, Mr. President, you also strongly endorsed the State of Israel’s sovereign right of self defense.  As we watch on with concern in our eyes and prayers in our hearts for the success of the Israel Defense Forces as they act to defend the innocent, we express our appreciation for your Administration’s call for the rocket attacks to cease and anticipate your support for Israel’s actions.

Both letters are essentially "asks" — note how the OU "anticipates" Obama’s support for Israel in its closer — but framed in strikingly different ways.

Which letter is likelier to end up on his desk?

NEXT STORY