CHARLOTTE – Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz claimed on Monday that Israel’s ambassador to the United States has accused Republicans of being “dangerous” to Israel by criticizing President Obama’s record. (Update: The Israeli embassy has responded.)
The Florida congresswoman made the charge at a training session for Jewish Democrats held by the Obama campaign here at the Democratic National Convention, aimed at teaching Jewish Democrats how to convince their fellow Jews to vote for Obama.
Much of the session, which featured a string of speakers from the Obama campaign, was devoted to defending Obama’s record on Israel. During her talk, Wasserman Schultz said that Republicans, who “can’t get anywhere with our community on domestic issues” instead “do everything they can to lie and distort and mischaracterize this president’s stellar record on Israel.”
As she was wrapping up her remarks, she claimed that, “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.”
The Washington Examiner could find no such public reference by Oren accusing Republicans of being “dangerous” to Israel. The Israeli embassy would not respond to a request for comment. (Update: The Israeli embassy has responded.)
Wasserman Schultz went on to elaborate that Republicans were “undermining Israel’s security by suggesting that the United States and Israel don’t have anything other than a unique and close and special relationship. It undermines Israel’s security to its neighbors in the Arab world and to its enemies. And we need to make sure that the fact that there has never been and will never be daylight between the two parties or the support for Israel that we have in the United States, that that is conveyed to Jewish Americans across this country. That’s our responsibility. It’s the responsibility we’re asking all of you to take on.”
She made similar remarks in a recent interview with Hadassah magazine.
It’s especially ironic for her to argue that Republican attacks were dangerous because they were creating a perception of “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel. Creating daylight was precisely the goal Obama adopted when he took office. As the Washington Post reported, a few months into his presidency, Obama told a group of Jewish leaders that the peace process didn’t advance during the prior administration because President Bush was too reflexively pro-Israel.
“During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that?” Obama said, according to the Washington Post. “When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.”
Attendees to the Monday session were given a handout promoting Obama’s “unwavering commitment to the state of Israel” and another “Myths vs. Facts” handout refuting attacks on his pro-Israel bona fides.
“I know so many of you and so many of my constituents will be sitting at dinner or at the mah jong table in the card room at their condo and hear one more time that Barack Obama is not a supporter or friend of Israel,” Wasserman Schultz said. “That’s simply not the case. And we want you to be armed with the facts.”
In 2008, according to exit polls, Obama received 78 percent of the Jewish vote and he’s likely to win the group overwhelmingly this year, too. But a drop off in support could be a factor in some swing states, especially Florida. Though Jewish voters only make up 2 percent of the vote nationally, if Obama’s share of the Jewish vote were to drop to 65 percent in the Sunshine State, his margin there would shrink by 83,500 votes, according to his campaign. The fact that the campaign felt the need to hold this training session suggests they see this as a real possibility.