Suzanne Fields

He assails Obama's Middle East policy as "naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous." He offers the ultimate milk and honey as a sweetener: In a Perry administration, the United States embassy would be relocated to Jerusalem, something several presidents have blocked for years lest it intrude on something the diplomats insist on calling a "peace process."

Perry's critique of the president's naivete echoes Hillary Clinton's rhetoric in the presidential primaries of 2008, but as the president's mouthpiece she can't say that unless she resigns and runs against him. She has to be sorely tempted.

Romney and Perry both display a "gut instinct" to protect Israel, something a growing number of Jewish voters think President Obama doesn't have. They think it required considerable chutzpah for Obama to suggest, as he did in speeches to audiences of Jewish and Israeli leaders, to engage in "serious self-reflection," to "search your souls" to renew their attitudes toward peace. The only implication here is that Jewish "attitudes" toward peace need renewal.

The timing seems right for Republicans to act on what the polls tell them, that 75 percent of conservative Republicans sympathize with Israel, not the Palestinians. This is the highest number for all partisan groups, according to Pew Research Centers. Only 32 percent of liberal Democrats favor Israel in the poll, with 21 percent favoring the Palestinians. Among the coveted independents, 50 percent favor Israel and 12 percent favor the Palestinians.

More disturbing for the president as he heads toward 2012 is a poll by Secure America Now showing that only 43 percent of the Jews who voted for Obama in 2008 say they will vote for him next year. His poorest showing is among Jews under 40. If it holds, this suggests a radical change in Jewish loyalties.

The historian Paul Johnson observes how timing has been crucial to the birth and survival of Israel, from the original decision by the United Nations to declare a Jewish state in 1948. President Harry Truman (a Southern Baptist), equipped with that "gut instinct," recognized Israel within minutes.

An Israeli reporter asked Rick Perry whether relations between the United States and Israel are at crisis point.

"The American people are for Israel," the governor replied. "We may have an administration that feels differently. I hope you will tell the people of Israel that hope is on the way."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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