Obama to Reform Jews: Israel support is a fact

President Barack Obama told a gathering of Reform Jewry not to let anyone challenge his record of support for Israel, which he said was “unprecedented.”

“No U.S. administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours — none,” he said in a Dec. 16 address to more than 5,000 people at the biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. It is a fact.”

The crowd at the suburban Washington, D.C., hotel gave the president a standing ovation.

After a brief d’var Torah — “It never hurts to begin a speech by discussing the Torah portion,” Obama said — the president listed several areas of close cooperation with Israel and the Jewish community, including missile defense and Iran sanctions. He called the sanctions the “hardest hitting” ever. And he repeated his pledge that he would take “no options” off the table when it comes to forcing Iran to back down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.

To repeated applause, Obama ran through his domestic policy achievements on health care, women’s rights and gay rights, among others.

Republicans have criticized Obama for his at-times tense relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly over the peace process. Obama said he was still dedicated to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace but did not allude at all to his differences with Israel over settlement building in the West Bank.

The Republican National Committee published data last week showing Obama vulnerable to losses among Jewish voters in key states, particularly Florida. — jta