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Did Wexler Have Falling Out With Obama?

In Barack Obama's presidential election, Robert Wexler was one of those linchpins. As an early supporter, he convinced a great many wary Jewish voters in South Florida that Obama would be a friend of Israel, as Obama himself promised. It was crucial to winning Florida.

But since Obama won election, he's been tough with Israel, insisting that it cease new settlements along borders of the Palestinian territories. More recently, the president has softened that tone -- "restraint" for new settlements is the latest position, much to the consternation of Palestinians who won't have peace talks until the settlements stop. Still, in the modern era, no American has been less supportive of Israel than Obama. (Relative to other presidents, who did somersaults for Israel.)

But for someone who went so far out on a limb to vouch for Obama, maybe Wexler felt betrayed.

Back in June, I wrote about how Wexler was trying to broker a better relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But to do so, Wexler needed to demonstrate to his friends in Israel that he could get Obama to soften his stance on freezing settlements. Maybe his efforts had some effect on convincing the administration to move in that direction, but friction remains between Obama and Netanyahu. The Noble Prize hasn't changed much.

It may be telling too that the Obama administration did not move to appoint Wexler as the U.S. ambassador to Israel, despite that position's being manned by a holdover from the Bush administration.

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Thomas Francis

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