Report: Hoenlein says Jews concerned about Obama [UPDATED]

Advertisement published an interview Sunday with Malcolm Hoenlein, in which the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that he’s hearing increasing Jewish concerns about President Obama, including — at least when it comes to his Cairo speech — from some of those who supported his campaign. Hoenlein may be correct, but the story quotes no one else but him, making it read more like a story about his concerns [UPDATE: In an interview with JTA’s Eric Fingerhut, Hoenlein stressed that he was simply relaying what he’s heard from others, not his own views — and said NewsMax "conflated" the questions and answers.]

Obama’s people grumbled about Hoenlein during the campaign (here and here), raising questions about his ability to maintain a productive relationship with the new team in the White House. But then the Conference of Presidents tapped a Chicago-based Obama backer as its chairman, Alan Solow, in a move widely perceived as a step toward aimed at shoring up the Conference of Presidents’ ties with the White House.

When JTA contacted Solow a few weeks ago to gert his view on the U.S.-Israeli tussle over settlements, he said it was "too early to come to any conclusion" on how the discussions will play out. "I’m watching very carefully," he added, "to see that the American leadershp and the Israeli leadership have a candid exchange of views." As for the president’s Cairo speech, Solow told JTA that he would have liked some tougher language on Iran’s nuclear program, but "on balance, the speech was one that was quite positive."

Here’s what Hoenlein had to say in the recent NewsMax interview:

President Obama’s strongest supporters among Jewish leaders are deeply troubled by his recent Middle East initiatives, and some are questioning what he really believes, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview.

Though Hoenlein says he is only offering his personal views, the conference he represents is a political powerhouse that includes 50 major Jewish groups. Among them are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), B’nai B’rith International, the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Zionist Organization of America, Hadassah, and the Anti-Defamation League. Hoenlein has been the professional head of the conference since 1986, overseeing its day-to-day activities as the coordinating body for American Jews on issues of concern in the U.S. and globally.Jewish leaders “are expressing concern about what was said [in Obama’s Cairo speech],” Hoenlein says. “I’ve heard it from some of his strongest supporters. It’s expected from his detractors. Even people close to him have said to us that there were parts of the speech that bothered them." …

“There’s a lot of questioning going on about what he really believes and what does he really stand for,” Hoenlein says of Obama’s outreach….

Hoenlein says flatly, “People [Jews] are genuinely very concerned…about President Obama.”

On the topic of Obama’s Cairo speech, Hoenlein said that the president’s "reference to Israel and the special relationship being unbreakable is important," and he praised the president’s condemnation of Holocaust denial. But he proceeded to criticize several portions of the speech (read the full article to see the particulars).

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