As vote nears, Berman e-mail stresses Dems’ Israel support


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ahead of midterm elections, a Democratic leader distributed talking points to fellow House Democrats stressing support for Israel by President Obama and the party.

The July 22 memo from Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs, declared that the backing from Obama and the House Democrats have been unprecedented.

“I think you will find [this document] useful to make the case that House Democrats and the President are as good if not better than any Congress or Administration that has come before,” Berman, who is Jewish, said in an e-mail to Democrats in Congress.

Republicans bidding for the Jewish vote in November’s elections, which are close enough that Democrats fear losing the majority in the House, are trying to tie Democratic Party candidates to Obama in the wake of months of tension over Israel’s settlement policies. The U.S. and Israeli governments say they have put the tensions behind them.

The approximately two dozen talking points emphasized that Obama has stressed the need for Palestinians to recognize the Jewish character of the state and that he has made Iran a top priority in every meeting with world leaders. They drew attention to Obama’s commitment to providing Israel with financial and military aid.

Leaders of pro-Israel groups do not dispute the enhanced defense assistance, but some say that Obama’s public disagreements over Israel’s settlement policies have handed leverage to Israel’s enemies and rivals.

In a listing of bills and resolutions passed recently in the House regarding Israel, the Berman statement noted a resolution in January 2009 stating that Israel has a right to defend itself and a bill in June sanctioning Iran.

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