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March 07, 2013

President Obama meets with Jewish groups ahead of his trip to Middle East

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."

A White House official said Obama "invited leaders from across the American Jewish community to discuss and get input about his upcoming trip to Israel." The official said Obama "reiterated America's unshakeable support for Israel and thanked the leaders for role they play in strengthening ties between the two nations."

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."


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There is very little President Obama can achieve if he is constantly disrespected or bluffed by Nutanyahu. At least, he has demonstrated good faith by undertaking this trip and Israel must cooperate with him to seek a lasting and just solution to the perennial crisis. Mankind has been made to live in error but we can correct our mistakes without diminishing each other. In the eyes of God all men are sinners and we are yet accepted as children of God, even if some believe that god cannot beget children. But as long as we belong to this Planet Earth we have a common destiny, each and everyone. The American Jews must speak with their people back home to seek the path of unity, tolerance, reconciliation and forgiveness.


Israel needs love and support, yes, but they must grow up into maturity and accept that they are kith and kin with their neighbors. They are scattered around the world, yes,but so are other people. They need to recognize that their concept of God is no longer of one who takes animal sacrifice or discriminates one nation against others. They need to act like an enlightened group living in a scientific age in which the past errors of religion need be corrected with open mind. They need peace for themselves through reconciliation and forgiveness. They must work out their salvation and stop hating the Arabs

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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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