Obama to donors: Israel, U.S. need ‘fresh eyes’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama told Jewish donors to his reelection campaign that Israel and the United States must assess the new Middle East with "fresh eyes."

"Both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes," Obama said Monday night at an event in Washington that charged a minimum $25,000 per couple. "It’s not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect somehow that things are going to work themselves out. We’re going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to be engaged."

Obama said Israel is the United States’ "closest ally" and that he was committed to Israel facing the challenges "from a position of strength," noting the closeness between the two countries’ defense establishments and his increase in defense assistance to Israel.

The president, who has clashed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over settlement building and parameters for peace talks with the Palestinians, said that in the coming months "there may be tactical disagreements in terms of how we approach these difficult problems."

Organizers of the event, titled "Obama Victory Fund 2012 Dinner with the President in support of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," ushered the White House pool reporters out of the room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel after Obama’s short talk so he could talk frankly with the donors. Organizers aimed to raise $1 million during the evening.

Jewish supporters of Obama have been running a publicity campaign of Op-Eds pushing back against assessments that the president is losing support in the Jewish community because of his stance on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

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