As Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama compete for Jewish donors and voters, Mrs. Clinton is following a tried-and-true rule of hers from New York – support Israel to the last – while Mr. Obama is trying a more delicate strategy that hit some bumps this week.At a pro-Israel conference on Monday night, Mrs. Clinton told an audience of 1,000 that Israel deserved “every bit of our support” and that Iran “will not be permitted to have nuclear weapons.” There were no shades of gray about Israel, which has been her style since falling into trouble with Jewish voters in 1999 when she did not quickly denounce controversial remarks about Israel made by Suha Arafat, the wife of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, is making a personal overture to Jewish voters that threads together history from slavery to the Holocaust to Jim Crow. Yet he is also talking about the needs of the Palestinians. Less experienced than Mrs. Clinton in the thicket of Jewish and Middle Eastern politics, he became a bit tangled in the eyes of some voters during his appearance Monday at the same conference that Mrs. Clinton attended, a forum sponsored by the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, (known as AIPAC).
Several Jewish conferencegoers said they were concerned by Mr. Obama’s remark Sunday in Iowa where, in a reference to the Middle East, he said, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”