Obama tells Jewish donors he strongly backs Israel

AP News
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 9:44 PM
Obama tells Jewish donors he strongly backs Israel

Seeking to reassure Jewish donors amid questions over his support for Israel, President Barack Obama pledged Monday that his administration would "devote all of its creative powers" to trying to bring about Mideast peace.

Obama made the comments at a high-dollar fundraiser at a Washington hotel hosted by Americans in Support of a Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship.

The appearance came a month after he clashed publicly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That handed ammunition to Republican presidential hopefuls who accused Obama of insufficient support for Israel.

Obama assured donors that his goals are the same as theirs _ a secure Jewish state living in peace with its neighbors _ even if there might be "tactical disagreements" along the way.

Even at a time of tumult in the Middle East, Obama said, "one inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends." But with the peace process badly stalled and no clear way forward, Obama also said the U.S. and Israel had to look at the situation with "fresh eyes."

Obama's comments came at the first of two fundraisers for his Obama Victory Fund Monday night. The sold-out dinner attracted about 80 people paying for tickets between $25,000 and $35,800.

Speaking at a second fundraiser with the DNC Mid-Atlantic Finance Committee, Obama tried to encourage supporters to remember the excitement and promise of 2008 even if he's no longer a fresh face and "people make fun of hope and change" and say that change didn't come fast enough. He said there's work left to do.

About 100 people were expected to attend, paying between $10,000 and $35,800.

The president has been featured at a string of recent fundraisers. He attended three in Miami and one in Puerto Rico last week. He heads for New York later this week where he will attend two more events with donors.