On Friday afternoon’s America Live, Fox News contributor Alan Colmes beat back a tide of anti-Obama talking points about the President and Israel. Most importantly, he refuted 2011’s real Lie of the Year (in my book), one that was referenced by presidential candidate Mitt Romney at last night’s debate, but has also been spread by the likes of NBC News’ Brian Williams: that President Obama urged Israel to return to the pre-1967 borders.
The entire segment was based on a false premise, and shame on Megyn Kelly for not pointing that out. It was pegged to a graph from the Gallup organization, which Kelly touted throughout the piece, showing the President’s approval rating with Jewish voters declining from 83% in Jan. 2009 to 54% in Sept. of 2011. What Kelly never once mentions is the key conclusion Gallup drew from their survey, which is right there in its title: Jewish Support for Obama Down, but Not Disproportionately:
There is little sign that President Obama is suffering disproportionately in support among Jews; 54% approved of his job performance from Aug. 1-Sept. 15, 13 percentage points higher than his overall 41% approval rating during that time, and similar to the average 14-point gap seen throughout Obama’s term.
Colmes batted down the usual series of “under the bus” nonsense that Republicans throw at the President, in this case by radio host Mike Gallagher. Colmes cited former New York Mayor Ed Koch‘s support of President Obama, and the President’s opposition of a Palestinian effort to seek recognition from the United Nations.
Most importantly, though, he refuted the biggest political lie of 2011, one which has probably prevented the President from doing even better with Jewish voters. At the same time Gallup released the survey that Megyn Kelly cites, a poll of Israeli citizens found that a whopping 81% of them thought the President’s Israel policies were either fair or pro-Israel.
That lie? That in a May 19, 2011 speech, President Obama urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “return to (Israel’s) borders before the ’67 Mideast War.”
That’s how the mainstream media, in this case Brian Williams, widely reported the President’s remarks. In reality, the President said “The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
That’s been the prevailing US policy on Israel since a two-state solution was conceived of, a negotiated border with land swaps that make those borders easier to secure.
Netanyahu himself didn’t help things when he argued against the thing President Obama never said, first in a grandstanding statement to reporters following a White House meeting with the President, then in a speech before Congress. For a US president, though, that can be an unpleasant, but necessary, role in difficult diplomatic negotiations: to be a foil for an ally, to provide them with political cover at home. In order to achieve progress, yet retain power, Netanyahu must be pulled away from the most hardline positions, and he must be seen as fighting against being pulled.
Forget incentive, what political capability would PM Netanyahu have to oppose hardliners in his country if the United States’ position became that the Palestinians are an “invented people?”
Romney, at least, accurately disclaimed his version of the lie, but it’s still misleading to suggest that President Obama’s position on negotiating two-state borders differs at all even from Benjamin Netanyahu’s. Good for Alan Colmes for calling that out.
Here’s the clip, from Fox News:
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