Israel Policy Forum Welcomes Netanyahu — By Supporting Obama

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Take a look at today’s Israel Policy Forum (IPF) ad in the New York Times if you want to see how some Jewish pro-peace process groups are adopting a bolder strategy.

Do you see Benjamin Netanyahu’s name anywhere in the ad?  I didn’t think so.

It’s traditional for Jewish groups to welcome prime ministers with friendly ads even if they couple that with some pokes at Israeli policy.

But not IPF, not this time;  on the eve of Netanyahu’s inaugural official visit to Washington and a critical meeting with President Barack Obama that is likely to shape U.S.-Israel relations for the next few years, the pro-peace process group ignored Netanyahu and instead proclaimed “we support you, Mr. President.”

While the big Jewish and pro-Israel groups are worried about what many expect will be new U.S. pressure on the Netanyahu government to move forward with negotiations aimed at a two-state solution, IPF’s ad may be an “invitation for the president to lean on Bibi,” said a longtime pro-Israel activist here.

IPF goes on to urge Obama, in his meetings with “leaders from the region this month” (who could that be?) to insist on a restart to stalled negotiations, work to strengthen Israel’s security by helping stop arms smuggling into Gaza, force a stop to West Bank settlement construction and the “demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem,” aid in the reconstruction of Gaza and embrace the Arab peace initiative as “ a basis for negotiations for a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors, including Syria.”

What about a welcome to Netanyahu? Not a word.

The ad comes a day after IPF delivered a letter to the White House from four former U.S. ambassadors calling for the same things.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.