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Obama speaks at URJ conference

US President Barack Obama was on friendly turf last Friday, talking up his commitment to Israel and tough stance on Iran before thousands of participants in the Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) biennial event near Washington. "America's commitment and my commitment to Israel's security is unshakable," declared Obama in an address that seem ed at times more like an election rally. "We have been there, and we will continue to be there. Those are the facts."

"As president I have never waivered in my pursuit of a just and lasting peace - two states for two peoples, an independent Palestine along a secure Jewish State of Israel. I have not waivered and will not waiver, that is our vision," he continued, greeted by ringing applause.

Addressing the historically left-leaning movement, Obama delivered a report card of his administration's performance on issues viewed to be crucial to American Jewry. He emphasised his administration's support for "the most comprehensive, the hardest-hitting sanctions the Iranian regime has ever face," telling the sold-out audience, "We haven't just talked about it, we've done it."

 

Obama reiterated what is likely to be a major talking point in his campaign for the American Jewish vote - that under his administration, Israel has secured the most foreign aid funding in the history of Israeli-US relations. Current aid for Israel is approximately $3 billion. He cited the Iron Dome missile defense program, as well as strong US support defending Israel in the United Nations.

Republican presidential candidates have recently made support for Israel a major issue both in trying to differentiate themselves from their fellow primary contestants, and in trying to pull in some of the over 70 percent of US Jews who voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential elections.

During his speech, Obama made a veiled reference to the GOP's attempts, arguing that US support for Israel "transcends partisan politics - or at least it should."

"No US administration has done more in support of Israel's security than ours. None. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. It is a fact," he argued.

Jerusalem Post

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