The widening rift between Israel and the White House is reportedly fueling a Republican effort to pull more Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party and into the GOP fold.
Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's March 3 speech to Congress – in which he slammed President Barack Obama's Iran diplomacy – GOP lawmakers have stood solidly behind the leader of the Jewish state, CNN
On Friday, House Speaker John Boehner
, who issued the controversial invitation to Netanyahu, said he'd visit Israel later this month.
Meanwhile, CNN reports, nearly every potential GOP presidential contender offered congratulations to the Israeli leader on social media after his convincing election win.
But Obama waited two days
to make a congratulatory call, prompting the Republican Jewish Coalition
to send out an email asking: "What is the White House waiting for?"
"Have Obama's actions and attitude toward Israel over the past six years put the Jewish vote up for grabs? I think the answer's yes," Texas-based Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak told CNN.
"I think 2016 does present an opportunity for Republicans to massively improve their performance with Jewish voters."
The rift could already work in favor of the GOP among evangelical Christians and pro-national security voters, he adds.
"Evangelical Christians in the United States strongly support Israel, and they do it from a biblical position," he tells CNN. "National security hawks strongly support Israel, too."
CNN notes that a Pew Forum analysis of exit poll data from midterm House elections shows a shift in the Jewish vote, with 33 percent casting ballots for the GOP, up from 12 percent in 2006.
"Here is what I don't understand," Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said in an interview on Boston Herald radio Friday, CNN reports:
"I don't understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their president."
Jewish Democratic strategist Matt Dorf dismissed the rhetoric.
"This is a storyline that gets promoted every two, and certainly every four years in a presidential cycle, and it's never true," he told CNN.
But Mackowiak notes that declining support
for Israel among Democrats could further a shift of Jewish voters toward the GOP.
"Israel is a wedge issue in the Democratic Party," Mackowiak told CNN. "It's not a wedge issue for us."
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