Dershowitz: Obama, Israel Have Only ‘Small Tactical Differences’

By Pete Winn | September 20, 2011 | 3:24 PM EDT

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Israeli Government Press Office)

(CNSNews.com) – Liberal Harvard law professor Professor Alan Dershowitz on Tuesday defended President Barack Obama and the administration’s position on Israel.

“I don’t think the president of the United States is anti-Israel. I think the president of the United States and the American people are supportive of Israel,” Dershowitz told CNSNews.com during a conference call Tuesday.

Complaints about Obama's Israel policy helped Republican Bob Turner win a special election in a heavily Jewish and Democratic New York congressional district last week. And while his Gallup poll numbers continue to be strong, Obama is reportedly losing support among American Jews and is deeply unpopular in Israel.

CNSNews.com asked Dershowitz: “Why do you think the president has been pursuing policies that seem to be designed to put Israel at arms length – or worse, are actually anti-Israel?”

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A vocal proponent for Israel in the U.S, Dershowitz was conciliatory toward Obama.

“Israel has always been a bipartisan issue – it doesn’t divide Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. Israel has support universally around the United States,” he said. “The prime minister of Israel and the ambassador from Israel to the United States have all indicated that the United States and Israel are on the same page.”

He downplayed what he called the “small tactical differences” that exist between the U.S. and Israel.

“There are some tactical differences,” Dershowitz said. “The major differences have arisen over the settlements – not over security. The most important thing is that the United States government currently -- and all previous governments – have supported Israel’s security.

Dershowitz noted the administration's support for Israel, while he condemned the expected vote later this week in the United Nations for a separate Palestinian nation.

“The Obama administration supported Israel in the flotilla incident, it supported Israel in the Goldstone Report, it supported Israel when the Egyptians took over the Israeli embassy. They’ve had security arrangements that have been positively viewed by the Secretary (Minister) of Defense in Israel, Ehud Barak, and so I think we should not be exaggerating tactical differences.

“Israel and the United States have always had tactical differences in how to achieve peace, and I think right now both sides agree that the UN declaration (on a Palestinian state) is wrong – that the Israelis have offered unconditional opportunities to sit down and negotiate and the Palestinians ought to come to the negotiating table.

“So this is a time to emphasize the commonality between the American position and the Israeli position – and not to emphasize the small tactical differences.”

President Obama has promised that the U.S. will vote to veto this week’s U.N. effort to declare an independent Palestinian state.

Dershowitz appeared with Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), head of the Republican Study Commission, to call for immediate U.S.- brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Remember too, the Palestinian constitution requires that the world recognize Palestine an Islamic state, based on Shariah law. And the incredible chutzpah of the Palestinians saying, ‘You must recognize us as an Islamic state, based on Shariah law, and we will not recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people - not  a Jewish state in the religious sense, because Israel has 1.2 million Arabs and close to a million Muslims, who all have equal rights, but that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people, that’s something that can be negotiated.”

President Obama, meanwhile, has been under increasing criticism for demanding concessions from the Jewish state that some say emboldened the Palestinians to seek recognition by the U.N.

In fact, tensions between the two nations came close to crisis when Obama called in a speech on Israel to cease building housing settlements in the West Bank and to negotiate the scope of the Palestinian state using 1967 borders as a starting point.

Moreover, while the Obama administration did express support for Israel when it kept a flotilla of Palestinians from going to Gaza in 2010, the U.S. also angered many in Israel when it pressured the Jewish state to apologize for a bloody Israeli commando raid on the flotilla.

The Goldstone Report was a report to the United Nations deeply critical of Israel and alleged human rights violations.

The U.S., meanwhile, also recently signed a missile–shield security agreement with Turkey to place radar in the increasingly Islamist nation to monitor Iran.

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