After addressing the domestic economy, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor shifted the focus of his speech to the Faith and Freedom Conference to Israel.
The Virginia Republican, his party's most prominent Jewish leader, attacked President Obama's policies on Israel, a topic guaranteed to evoke intense passion among the evangelical Christians in his audience. His speech illustrated how closely the GOP has aligned itself not only with Israel, but with Israel's most conservative politicians.
Cantor told a story about a Palestinian woman who received medical care in Israel then was later caught at a border crossing wearing a suicide belt. She purportedly planned to blow up the medical clinic where she had been treated.
The anecdote comes directly from far-right Israeli Knesset member Aryeh Eldad, the only member of the Knesset to call for civil disobedience to fight Israel's withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and was accused by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a center-right politician, of trying to incite settlers against the Israeli police.
Cantor's speech reflects a GOP strategy to use Israel as a wedge to peel off moderate Jews who normally vote Democratic. The tone demonstrates that the GOP sees no risks in being too hawkish on the issue.
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