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During Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Florida, candidates blasted President Barack Obama for his policies toward Israel, suggesting those policies were causing Jewish voters to turn against the president.
Fox News picked up that thread during Friday’s broadcast of America Live, where the network highlighted a Gallop poll showing the president’s diminished appeal among Jewish voters. The poll showed Obama’s approval rating among Jewish voters had fallen 29 points between his inaguration and September 2011.
“I think he threw Israel under the bus.” former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney said during Thursday’s debate. “I think he disrespected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
At issue was a speech the President gave before the United Nations last year, in which he called for 1967—the year in which Israel expanded its borders after a short war with Egypt, Jordan and Syria—to be a starting point for border negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
It’s a position the Republican presidential candidates have seized upon, citing it as evidence of disrespect for Israel. But Fox News contributor Alan Colmes came to the president’s defense during Friday’s America Live.
“Mitt Romney clearly misrepresented the president’s position,” Colmes said.
Colmes pointed out that former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, an influential figure in the Jewish community, was endorsing Obama’s campaign, and that Netanyahu had actually praised Obama’s UN speech.
“The 1967 Border issue—[Obama] has always said that should be a starting point for negotiations,” Colmes said. “Netanyahu agrees with that.”
Netanyahu did thank Obama during a visit to the White House last year, saying he appreciated Obama not calling for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state.
According to the Gallop poll, Obama’s approval rating among Jewish voters was 83 percent when he took office in January 2009. It had fallen to 54 percent in September 2011. But as Mediaite pointed out, Gallup pollsters concluded Obama’s support among Jewish supporters had not fallen disproportionally compared to his overall approval rating, which was at 66 percent in January 2009, and 41 percent in September 2011.
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