WASHINGTON -- Israel has had no worse friend in the White House than President Obama, Southern Baptist religious freedom specialist Richard Land told social conservatives gathered in Washington, D.C.
The president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission told participants at a conference sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "said George W. Bush was the best president of the United States that Israel has ever had."
"If that's true, the worst president of the United States that Israel has ever had is Barack Obama," Land said. "There is no question that he is pro-Palestinian and his policies are pro-Palestinian."
Land's assessment -- expressed in a general session -- was echoed later June 4 by others in a panel discussion at the conference.
"I think that in Barack Obama we have the most anti-Israel president that we have ever had or ever will have, God willing," said Peter Roff, a contributing editor for U.S. News and World Report. "And his proposal that Israel recede to the pre-1967 borders as a basis of negotiation with Palestinians makes as much sense as proposing that we recede to our pre-Louisiana Purchase borders" to satisfy the French.
Obama's May statement about Israel's borders was viewed by friends of the Jewish state as a recent transgression in what they see as a series of signals that this White House does not support the Israelis in the way previous United States presidents have.
"There is now daylight between the United States and Israel in a way that we have not seen ever, I think, in the history of this country, certainly in the history of Israel," Frank Gaffney said during the panel discussion. Gaffney is president of the Center for Security Policy. "[Israel's enemies] believe that they can now in fact exploit that daylight."
Gaffney told the audience, "When I think of this as as dangerous a time as has happened in my lifetime for Israel, that's really saying something, isn't it? After all, Israel's enemies, which are many, have been trying to drive the Jews into the sea for generations. I fear that they are closer to accomplishing this than ever."
Gaffney pointed to the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and possibly other countries -- with its goal of forcing Shariah law upon both Muslims and non-Muslims -- and the increasing likelihood of a nuclear Iran as threats to Israel.
Land told those in the conference's general session he had "a word of encouragement for our friends in Israel who must be feeling a little abandoned and a little abused and a little used right now."
"My dear friends, help is on the way," he said. "With absolute confidence I can tell you that social conservatives in this country are with one voice saying, 'Israel today, Israel tomorrow and Israel forever. We are with you because God is with you, and we understand that, and we are going to defend your right to live in the land that God gave to you and to your children. Rest assured. Help is on the way. You are not alone.'"
During the panel discussion, Land said he told Israelis on a visit to their country, "Don't confuse the current administration with the people of the United States."
Citing Genesis 12 and 17 in the Bible, Land said in the general session God has an "everlasting covenant" with the Jewish people and has promised to bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse them.
Land supports Israel because it shares the "same foundational heritage" as the United States and is this country's "only solid, complete ally in the Middle East."
"But I also believe that we must bless America because I'm an American and I love America, and I want God to bless America, and God blesses us when we obey Him and He doesn't bless us when we disobey Him," he said. "And He has made it very clear that Israel has an ally far more powerful than the United States of America. He's called the Lion of Judah.
"If we want God to bless America, then we have to bless the Jews," Land said.
He believes "one of the reasons that God has continued to bless the United States of America in the last half of the 20th Century in spite of our profligacy and our neo-pagan conduct in many areas is because we have been the least anti-Semitic country in the West."
To be pro-Israel is not to be anti-Arab, since God pronounced a blessing in Scripture on Ishmael and His descendants, Land said.
In a June 3 panel discussion on anti-Christian bigotry, Land said Christians should respond to those expressing such prejudice by not letting them "cow you or intimidate you. And you confront bigotry and prejudice wherever you see it as kindly as possible and with humor when possible, but you confront it."
The two-day conference attracted numerous social conservative leaders, as well as several announced or possible Republican presidential candidates, including Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, is founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.