Charlotte, N.C. — Democrats hit back hard at critics of President Barack Obama’s handling of relations with Israel Tuesday night, devoting a prime time slot on opening night of their convention to a full-throated appeal to Jewish voters.
Former Florida Rep. Robert Wexler delivered the televised speech, and bitterly attacked Republican nominee Mitt Romney in an interview with the Forward, even as a new controversy erupted over the Democrats’ failure to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the party platform.
“I question Mitt Romney’s commitment to the security of Israel,” Wexler told the Forward after his speech. Wexler suggested that Romney improperly undermined Obama’s foreign policy authority by questioning the strength of the president’s support for Israel in its standoff with Iran.
“(Romney) makes reckless statements in his convention speech about the president throwing Israel under the bus,” Wexler said. “If the Iranians would believe Mitt Romney, then Israel would have a real problem.”
In his convention speech, which came at a coveted 8 pm time slot when the arena is full and cable networks are broadcasting live, Wexler reminded delegates that Israel’s prime minister, defense minster and president have all thanked Obama for his support of the Jewish State.
“Perhaps Mr. Romney should listen to those who know best — Israel’s leaders.” Wexler said.
Wexler stressed that Obama is resolved not to allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon and that “mobilize all instruments of U.S. power: economic, diplomatic, intelligence, and military” in order to “prevent not to contain,” a nuclear Iran.
The former congressman, who represented a heavily Jewish south Florida district, also mentioned the quest for a two-state solution for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. That’s a theme that has not been heard much in this election cycle from either party.
The push for Jewish support came as Republicans and their supporters within the Jewish community attacked the Democratic platform for avoiding a clear statement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.