President Obama met at the White House today with more than two dozen members of American Jewish and pro-Israeli groups -- getting feedback on his upcoming trip to Israel, his first as president.
The meeting wasn't on Obama's public schedule and was supposed to be off the record. But some attendees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Obama told them he doesn't plan to rattle any sabers when it comes to Iran -- though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely welcome a show of force.
"One person thought he should toughen his rhetoric and become more clear on Iran," the Jewish Journal quoted one attendee as saying. "He really pushed back against that. He said he needs to leave room for diplomatic resolution. He said he was not going to do 'extra chest beating' just so people think he's tough."
Obama noted the trip "is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue," the official said, "but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues – including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region, and the peace process. He also underscored that the trip is an opportunity for him to speak directly to the Israeli people about the history, interests, and values that we share."
Publicly, groups offered words of praise to Obama for making the trip. Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, said "as Jews and as Americans, we are proud to see our president visit our ancient homeland and engage with the Israeli people."