It's been a tough year for Israel's most loyal supporters in the U.S. It began with a messy confirmation process for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a nominee whom pro-Israeli groups viewed with concern. Over the summer, President Obama leaned on those groups, most notably the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to lobby for his proposal authorizing military intervention in Syria, only to abandon the push at the last minute. "And, most recently, pro-Israel organizations have been highly critical of a possible diplomatic deal with Iran that would loosen sanctions against the Islamic regime — a deal that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deemed "exceedingly bad."
Meanwhile, relations between the White House and Israel are as chilly as they've been in decades, with Obama administration officials openly contradicting Netanyahu's positions, and Netanyahu openly courting the French to forestall the U.S. diplomatic push with Iran.
All of this puts Democrats, who routinely win overwhelming support from Jewish Americans on Election Day, in an awkward position. Do they stand with the president on politically sensitive foreign policy issues, or stake their own course? That difficult dynamic is currently playing out in Congress, where the Obama administration is resisting a Senate push to maintain tough sanctions against Iran. This week, Obama met with leading senators on the Banking and Foreign Relations committees to dissuade them from their efforts while diplomacy is underway.