News / USA

Obama Responds to Republican Criticisms on Support for Israel

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 71st General Assembly of the Union of Reform Judaism, Dec. 16, 2011, in National Harbor, Md.
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 71st General Assembly of the Union of Reform Judaism, Dec. 16, 2011, in National Harbor, Md.

In an address Friday to the largest North American Jewish organization, President Barack Obama said the United States is fully committed to Israel, and responded to recent sharp criticisms on the subject from Republican presidential candidates.   

Mr. Obama traveled a short distance to a hotel just outside of Washington and the 71st General Assembly of the Union of Reform Judaism to deliver a message he has repeated frequently, that the U.S commitment to Israel's security is "unshakeable."

Formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the group calls itself the largest Jewish movement in North America, representing more than 900 congregations in the U.S, Canada and Caribbean and 1.5 million Jews.

Republican presidential candidates have criticized Mr. Obama's commitment to Israel and his broader approach to the Middle East, and strategy on Iran's nuclear program.

Mr. Obama and administration officials strongly reject this, and point to ongoing strong military-to-military and intelligence cooperation, including assistance for the Israeli "Iron Dome" missile system to guard against rocket attacks.

Mr. Obama listed these and other areas of cooperation and hit back at criticisms, saying special bonds between the U.S. and Israel should transcend partisan politics.

"It is hard to remember a time when the U.S. has given stronger support to Israel on its security," said President Obama. "In fact I am proud to say that no U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel's security than ours.  None.  Don't let anybody else tell you otherwise.  It is a fact."

Mr. Obama's relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been tense and chilly at times, as the administration attempted to persuade Israel's government to freeze settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

That has been a major roadblock among those preventing a return to direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinians which occurred only briefly after Mr. Obama brought Israeli and other Mideast leaders to the White House in 2010.

Mr. Obama said the only path to a just and lasting peace is through direct negotiations in pursuit of the vision of a two state solution, saying he will "not waiver" in pursuit of that vision.

He reiterated U.S. policy on Iran's nuclear program, which he called a threat to the security of Israel, the United States and the world.

"We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that is why we have worked painstakingly from the moment I took office with allies and partners and we have imposed the most comprehensive, the hardest hitting sanctions that the Iranian regime has ever faced," said Obama. "We haven't just talked about it, we have done it.  And we are going to keep up the pressure.  And that is why rest assured we will take no options off the table."

The White House confirmed that Mr. Obama met briefly before his speech with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also addressed the conference.

Mr. Obama's address, in which he also reviewed major accomplishments of his presidency such as health care reform and ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq - came as he tries to prevent further erosion of support among American Jewish voters for his re-election in 2012.

Much of the speech reprised major points he has made in his struggles with opposition Republicans in Congress over jobs legislation and tax cuts to help the middle class.   

Mr. Obama said the political debate in the U.S. is not just political, but a moral, ethical and values debate about whether all Americans "get a fair shake" and "play by the same rules."  

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs