Ed already made this point but it’s worth reiterating now that GOP luminaries like Boehner and Eric Cantor are jumping in to demagogue it. Here’s the quote from Obama’s Atlantic interview:

JG: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?

BO: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable. I am absolutely convinced of that, and some of the tensions that might arise between me and some of the more hawkish elements in the Jewish community in the United States might stem from the fact that I’m not going to blindly adhere to whatever the most hawkish position is just because that’s the safest ground politically.

Per the bold part, as noted by Goldfarb and Rich Lowry, the “wound” he’s describing is obviously the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, not Israel itself. Do you honestly think a guy willing to carve out a special exception to his “I’ll talk to anyone” foreign policy for Hamas in order to appeal to pro-Israeli voters is going to turn around and say something Ahmadinejadesque about Israel being a festering wound? Particularly when, in the same breath, he derides jihadists who use Palestinian grievances as a pretext for atrocities? If anything, his rhetoric on Israel throughout the campaign has been suspiciously rosy, designed as it is to calm fears (or hopes, in the case of Palestinian Americans) that the senate’s most liberal member might share the left’s “nuanced” view of Zionism. He’s not trying to sound like dKos; he’s trying not to sound like dKos. I hate to have to defend him, but after writing umpteen posts about him and his cronies distorting McCain’s “100 years” comment it’d be disingenuous to sit by while the countersmear goes to work.

Read Goldfarb’s post about the real problem with what Obama said. I don’t think he meant that Israel vs. Palestine informs literally every single foreign policy problem we have, but I wouldn’t mind hearing him spin that out a bit. If, as he rightly says, the conflict is being exploited by regressive elements to further their own agendas, why does he think those elements will ever let it be settled?