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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid