Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is vowing his "unshakable commitment to Israel's security" if he's elected.
Seeking to reassure doubtful Jewish voters, Obama told an audience at a Florida synagogue that he opposes negotiating with the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
But he also said he believes talks with Iranian leaders could help strengthen Israeli security.
"When I am in the White House, I will bring with me an unshakable commitment to maintaining that bond between the United States and Israel and an unshakable commitment to Israel's security," he told the audience at B'nai Torah.
Demanding concessions from Iran in exchange for economic aid would give America "the moral high ground," he argued.
He says this would make it easier to build international support for sanctions to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear program and its support of terrorism, he said.
Still, some fear Obama's willingness to speak with Middle Eastern nations that have vowed to destroy Israel.
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Obama's proposals are "naive and weak leadership."
"It's weak judgment for Barack Obama to believe that an unconditional summit with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would not strengthen the worst elements in Iran, embolden the tyrant's standing in the region and put the world's security at risk," Bounds said.
And for some, fears still persist that he is a closet Muslim - even though he insists he's a Christian.
"Judge me by what I say and what I've done. Don't judge me because I've got a funny name. Don't judge me because I'm African-American and people are concerned about memories of the past," Obama said.
It all could be a tough sell for Obama. His association with his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright has many doubting his claims. Wright has published pro-Palestinian comments and praised Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has harshly criticized Jews.
Although Obama has denounced both Farrakhan and Wright, his connections have alienated some Jewish voters.
Source: The Associated Press