Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the majority leader, does not directly refer to President Obama or his speech in his own address to AIPAC today.
There are two allusions, however, both negative, to Obama — and both earning major applause lines:
First, Cantor described the story of a Gaza woman getting treatment at Beersheba’s Soroka hospital for burns. She’s caught at the border with a suicide vest:
What kind of culture leads one to do that?
Sadly, it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred.
It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ’67 lines.
The "’67’ lines reference earned the biggest applause of the speech. (Obama this week said that the 1967 lines should form the basis for negotiations.)
Then, Cantor concluded with this:
Israel deserves America’s friendship in reality – not just in rhetoric. Words and promises come and go.
Only deeds count.
There is a time for talk; but now is the time for action.
There is a time for dreaming; but now is the time for doing.
There is a time for following; but now is the time to lead–from the front.
The reference to "rhetoric" refers to Obama’s soaring speeches, and "lead from the front" refers to the Obama adviser who used the unfortunate term "lead from behind" in describing how the United States would devolve responsibility for the war in Libya onto NATO.
Both lines: "not just in rhetoric" and "lead from behind" got applause. Fair enough at what is essentially a political event.
But there may be a problem for Republicans with such references to "rhetoric."
The Obama administration is quantitively able to prove it is "doing" more for Israel than any of its predecessors in terms of defense assistance and cooperation (as I write this, there’s about the 12th reference today to Israel’s "Iron Dome" short range missile defense system, funded by the Obama administration on top of the $3 billion.)
Whenever it gets to this point in the pro-Israel argument between Democrats and Republicans — when Democrats pull out the laundry list of defense cooperatiion — Republicans, with some justification, point out that "rhetoric" equals "diplomacy." In other words, that "doing" is not enough, one needs "talk" too.
However grateful Israel should be for the "tachliss" assistance, this argument posits, undermining Israel diplomatically undermines Israel, period. (Democrats would counter that there’s a difference between friendly disagreements and diplomatic crises.)
But If that Republican argument is to hold — if there really should be "no daylight," diplomatically, between Israel and the United States — then Republicans may want to reconsider dissing "talk" and "rhetoric."