Features

Drawing lines

"Drawing lines" Continued...

Issue: "Tour d'America," June 18, 2011

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East negotiator under Democratic and Republican administrations, isn't quite as alarmed by the comments. He believes Obama was merely trying to preempt the Palestinians from pursuing statehood recognition at the United Nations in September-a faulty plan, he added. "The issue is not whether this was pro- or anti-Israel. The issue is whether this was smart or dumb. And in my view it wasn't smart."

The president clarified his remarks during his speech to AIPAC on May 22, claiming that he wasn't asking Israel to return to the 1967 borders and that negotiations would take into account "changes that have taken place over the last 44 years," but U.S. involvement in the peace process appears to be defunct at this juncture. "I think there's very little we can do. There isn't any way to get the Palestinians and the Israelis to the table," Miller said. "They seem to be running in exactly the opposite direction. The Palestinians are running to New York and the Israelis seem to think they can get by without even a public relations program to address a significant problem: The rest of the world has a double standard when it comes to Israel."

Continued support

After President Obama's May 19 speech on the Middle East, Washington buzzed with speculation that he would lose key Jewish donors going into 2012. Thus far, though, none of his prominent Jewish supporters from 2008 publicly said that they would withdraw support from him over his speech.

One big name probably caused sweat to break out on Democratic brows: Billionaire Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who has given millions to Democrats, said he probably wouldn't give to Obama in 2012-but not because of the president's comments about Israel. He told CNBC in regard to Obama, "As an Israeli-American, we're all good, [but] Obama has raised so much money and will raise so much money through the Internet, more than anybody before him. And he frankly doesn't, I believe, need any of my donations." Saban said he would donate to Obama if asked, but wanted to emphasize contributions to Democratic attempts to retain Senate control and regain a majority in the House of Representatives.

A few unnamed donors dropped out of a fundraiser-set for June 30 at the Philadelphia home of Comcast executive David Cohen-over the issue, according to the Los Angeles Times. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch also said he might support a Republican in 2012 because of the president's comments. Koch supported Obama in 2008, but he isn't a staunch Democrat-he endorsed President George W. Bush in 2004, as well as other Republicans before him. -Emily Belz

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