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Inside AIPAC and out, Obama's opponents turn up the heat

Attack ads from lobbying groups, warnings of nuclear doom from GOP hopefuls, and saber-rattling from the punditocracy surround AIPAC's annual meeting.

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Mr. Adelson is a supporter of settlement expansion in the West Bank, something that the Obama administration (like most of its recent predecessors) opposes. The current crop of Republican candidates have promised a much softer line on settlements.

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Put simply, doing political damage to Obama has been as much on the agenda of some pro-Israel groups' efforts around this AIPAC meeting as highlighting Iran's nuclear program, or making an Israeli case about what US policy should be towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2004, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry was prevented from speaking at AIPAC because the group said it had a policy against allowing challengers to a sitting president from speaking.

This year, Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum have all been given speaking slots.

Suspicion of Obama does not appear to be confined to pro-Israel activists. Barak Ravid wrote in Haaretz over the weekend that "Netanyahu and his associates have been conveying discomfort in recent weeks about the conduct of the American government on the Iran issue. It is not clear if this is a tactic or if this is an actual feeling that Obama cannot be trusted on Iran."

The Emergency Committee for Israel, a group run by the hawkish Bill Kristol, makes no bones about its distaste for the US president. The lobbying group released an ad over the weekend attacking Obama.

The soundtrack is alarming and emotional (think poor man's Carmina Burana), the graphics menacing (metaphor alert: gathering storm clouds), and the commentary and editing are designed to frighten friends of Israel about Obama. A talking head says Obama may be "the most pro-Palestinian" president in history and another says of Obama "this is not the way you treat an ally." The video (embedded below) ends with Obama speaking to an Arab forum. He says, "I want to make sure we end before the call to prayer" and then a hard edit cuts off whatever he said next.

A nod and a wink toward the canard that Obama is secretly a Muslim? It sure seems like it.

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