The neo-conservative Emergency Committee for Israel has a new full-page ad out in papers nationwide, accusing President Barack Obama of using Israel as a “punching bag.”
The provocative ad appears in the New York Times along with newspapers in Las Vegas, Miami and Los Angeles.
It leads with the bold-type line: “Why does the Obama administration treat Israel like a punching bag?”
William Kristol, a main force in ECI along with Gary Bauer, explained the ad to the Politico web site, which reported on it Wednesday.
“The Obama administration has been using Israel as a punching bag,” he said, adding somewhat cryptically: “The pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community is punching back.”
Although the numbers of Jewish voters are relatively small, it could be important in swing states like Florida. Christian conservatives are increasingly also seen as a key part of the pro-Israel community.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz slammed the ECI as a Republican attack operation and praised Obama for strongly supporting Israel.
“ECI is nothing more than a Republican front organization,” she told Politico. “They have been discredited by major national Jewish organizations… They have been so offensive and so outrageous in their efforts to use Israel as a wedge issue.”
Calling Obama’s record “stellar,” Wasserman Schultz said the group was trying to change the subject to Israel because the GOP is “wrong on every domestic issue that matters to the Jewish community.
“This is a president through word and deed has been a stalwart supporter of Israel,” she added.
The White House has found itself embroiled in Israel-related controversies several times in recent weeks.
Obama was caught on an open microphone with French President Nicolas Sarkozy when Sarkozy called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “liar.” Obama didn’t rush to correct him.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also criticized Israel’s treatment of women at a recent policy forum in Washington. Pentagon chief Leon Panetta also warned Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, urging them to “get back to the damn table.”
Republican candidates have sought to make hay out of the issue, with frontrunner Newt Gingrich calling the Palestinians an “invented people” and “terrorists.”