Mea culpa: Obama has called Israel America’s ‘closest ally’

Last month, there was a kerfuffle over President Obama referring to Israel as “one of our closest allies in the region.” Critics wondered why he didn’t describe Israel as America’s single closest ally in the region. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded by saying that Obama has said “numerous times that Israel is our closest ally in the region."

But I reviewed some of Obama’s major Israel policy speeches, and I didn’t find any evidence that he had used such a phrase or its equivalent. I asked whether Carney may have been incorrect.

I just noticed that two readers have since corrected me.

At a 2011 Democratic National Committee event, Obama referred to Israel as “our closest ally and friend.” And at a New York fundraiser, he apparently said (according to Ynet) that “no ally is more important than the state of Israel.”

A belated thanks to Russel Neiss for the first find and to Yitzhak Benhorin for the second. (Steve Sheffey also directed me to a report on the DNC event written, coincidentally, by Benhorin.)

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