By Jeremy Herb
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) accused the Obama administration of sending “mixed messages” to Israel’s enemies in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Monday, as President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to show a publicly coordinated front at the White House.
Cantor said confusion has raised questions about where the United States stands on numerous conflicts in the Middle East, adding that “strength” is the only message the country's enemies understand.
“Confusion about where America stands has raised questions about what some of our leaders in Washington are willing to put up with,” he said. “That's not just about Iran, it's about Syria, it's about Iraq, it's about Egypt and it's about Libya.”
Cantor also chastised the Obama administration over its policy toward Israel, saying that “America's job should not be to micromanage Israel.”
Speaking at the same event, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that Obama has upheld the commitment to Israel’s security, just like past presidents of both parties.
“No one should misconstrue difference of opinion or emphasis as in any way weakening a bond forged by principles, values, history, and common interests,” Hoyer said.
Cantor’s address continued his criticism of Obama from Monday morning, when he questioned Obama’s “resolve” and commitment to keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Obama and Netanyahu, meanwhile, emphasized their unity Monday ahead of an Oval Office meeting that’s focused on the threat of a nuclear Iran. “We face common enemies,” Netanyahu said. “Iran’s leaders know that, too.”
Obama has said that he “has Israel’s back” and that all options are on the table to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including military ones. He warned about the "loose talk of war" in his speech to AIPAC.
But Republicans have been critical of Obama’s policy toward Iran, accusing him of appeasement for not taking a harder line. Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has said that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons if Obama is reelected, but not if he’s elected.
Cantor warned of the dire threat Iran poses to Israel if the Iranians are able to acquire nuclear weapons.
“In the Middle East, now is the time to be realists — to wake up, before all dreams turn into an unbearable nightmare,” Cantor said. “To minimize the Iranian threat is to fall into the same trap that led to the Holocaust — a lack of imagination about how far evil can go.”
While Cantor and Hoyer were delivering different messages about the Obama administration, the two have teamed up to introduce legislation this week that’s titled the “U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act.”
Updated at 2:14 p.m.