Former Florida congressman Robert Wexler defended the Obama administration as he exasperatedly lectured the audience about President Barack Obama’s pro-Israel credentials this morning, at the annual security conference held here outside Tel Aviv.
“President Obama has more than any other president engaged with this Israeli government in terms of security and confidence. Let’s just review the facts,” Wexler bombastically told the audience made up of experts and journalists.
When the Israeli embassy in Cairo was under siege, and when Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were in effect paralyzed because the Egyptian leadership would not respond, President Obama responded . . . and Israeli leaders themselves said [it was] the difference between 6 or 7 body bags . . . Whether it was back in 2009 in pulling out America from the joint military exercise with Turkey over Israel, to the response to the fires, to President Obama’s speech at the United Nations in effect warning [against] unilateral Palestinian statehood attempt, to providing even greater military superiority in Israeli military forces, to the occurrence of the largest American-Israeli joint military exercise to yet what will be an even larger one in the months to come.
Wexler concluded: “But for President Obama joining the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces], what more could he possibly do?”
Wexler left Congress to work at a think tank funded by the founder of the weight loss beverage Slim Fast in 2010. It is called the Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.
Wexler did not speak about how Obama has placed blame on Israel for the failure of peace talks—despite the refusal of the Palestinians to come to the table. He didn’t mention the Obama administration’s picking of various fights with Israel over apartment buildings being constructed in areas of Jerusalem that will remain parts of Israel under any peace agreement. And Wexler did not mention Obama’s famous response to French president Nicolas Sarkozy. "I cannot bear [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, he's a liar," Sarkozy told the president. Obama responded: "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!"
Nor did the former congressman mention the speech that Obama’s diplomat in Brussels gave about how Israel is responsible for a new wave of anti-Semitism among Muslims in Europe. The litany of disagreements and clashes over the last three years between the Obama administration and Israel is really pretty well known.
Wexler was an early backer of Obama’s campaign effort in 2007 and often served as a surrogate on behalf of the then-Illinois senator, especially helping in reaching out to Jewish groups and Israel-related organizations.
Today, it seemed, the former congressman had resumed his role of reassuring everyone about Obama—and even implied the many critics of Obama’s Israel policy, based on actions taken by Obama as president, are dishonest.
“If I may just for one moment,” Wexler said. “While it is perfectly appropriate for anyone to differ with President Obama, it is not appropriate to mischaracterize his words. President Obama in his May speeches suggested that the basis of negotiations be the 1967 line with agreed territorial swaps. President Obama did not, has not, and will not suggest that the 1967 lines be returned to. Prime Minister Netanyahu, when he spoke to the United States said so, unequivocally, that President Obama did not seek or ask a return 1967 lines . . . So, to my friends who suggest otherwise, I’d respectfully suggest that we have a debate if there is one, but do it honestly.”
Some of us remember honestly that there was considerable disagreement between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu during Netanyahu’s last visit, the one to which Wexler alludes. It would be nice if Obama defenders like Wexler would address those disagreements honestly.