MANHATTAN – During an exclusive campaign fundraiser on New York’s Upper East Side tonight, President Obama offered reassurances to some of his most loyal Jewish supporters about the administration’s commitment to Israel.
Speaking about the “enormous tumult” in the Middle East brought by the Arab Spring, Obama said the U.S. stands “on the side of democracy” but remains unwavering in its support for the security of its allies.
“Obviously, no ally is more important than the state of Israel,” Obama said.
“This administration – I try not to pat myself too much on the back – but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration,” he added.
“Whether it’s making sure that our intelligence cooperation is effective, to making sure that we’re able to construct something like an iron dome so that we don’t have missiles raining down on Tel Aviv, we have been consistent in insisting that we don’t compromise when it comes to Israel’s security.”
Obama has taken heat from some members of the Jewish community for what have been, at times, frustrated relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for his public calls for statehood negotiations with Palestinians to start with the pre-1967 lines.
American Jewish Congress chairman Jack Rosen, who hosted Obama fundraiser at his private home, acknowledged the concerns generally in his introduction of the president. But Rosen praised the president’s record.
“America’s never been as supportive to the state of Israel” than since Obama took office, he said.
Thirty Obama supporters each paid at least $10,000 per person to attend, said a Democratic official.
Obama also attended two other fundraisers in New York City tonight. He mingled over dinner with 45 donors who forked over $35,800 per person at Gotham Bar & Grill. Later, he spoke at a “holiday reception” at the Sheraton to several hundred supporters who paid $1,000 apiece.
The events brought to 69 the total number of fundraisers attended by Obama this year. The at-least-$1.8 million he raised tonight benefits the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising account for Obama and Democrats. The first $5,000 of an individual’s contribution goes to Obama; the remainder, up to $30,800, goes to the DNC.