ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz today said President Obama’s comments last week on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations have not hurt his standing with the Jewish community, despite Republican efforts to “to distort his view and make things up that are not true.”
“I think to suggest that the president did significant damage to his support in the Jewish community is a gross overstatement,” Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, told reporters at a breakfast meeting.
There are “Jewish Americans who are expressing concern about the president’s policy… but what he said, followed on by president Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session on Tuesday, is essentially what has been American policy since President Clinton, affirmed by President Bush in the 2004 letter, and publicly stated by President Obama, which is that negotiations should begin at the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, which by definition would not take Israel back to those lines that were established on June 4, 1967.”
Wasserman Schultz said the Democratic Party remains politically the “natural home” for the Jewish community, noting that Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008 despite “dire predictions” he would receive much less.
“I think the Republicans are certainly going to attempt to make it an issue” in the 2012 campaign, she said. “We will address the unfounded characterizations of his record and outright lies,” she added.
In meeting Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican and Democratic Jewish groups, Schultz reportedly urged both parties not the politicize Israel in the 2012 election -– comments that drew an accusation from some Republicans that she was proposing a “gag order.”
“What I think is unfortunate is… that we need to make sure… that Israel never becomes a partisan issue,” Schultz said today. “When it comes to Israel we need to erase the ire.”
UPDATE: RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski disputes Schultz's characterization of Obama's Israel comments, saying Republicans believe President Obama was attempting to "try and change policy."
"This isn’t about politics," she said. "Jewish Americans are the latest voters being turned off by President Obama’s record of breaking promises. Does Wasserman Schultz think Senator Reid and other Democrats publicly rebuking the president’s remarks are lying as well?," she added, referring to criticism Obama has received from the left.