Why Israelis are worried about Obama

News item:

The Obama Administration insistently reiterated its support for Israel this weekend after a Jerusalem Post poll found that only 6 percent of Jewish Israelis now consider Barack Obama’s presidency to be pro-Israel…

Fifty percent of those sampled consider the policies of Obama’s administration more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli, and 36% said the policies were neutral. The remaining 8% did not express an opinion.

What worries Israelis about Obama?

Iran. It seems that the administration has already decided that Iran will be a nuclear power. Israelis see this as an existential threat.

Linkage. No Israeli in his or her right mind, right-wing or left-wing, believes that “solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” will help deal with Iran, or reduce the threat of Islamic fundamentalism in general. This is seen as an excuse to pressure Israel so as to curry favor with the Arabs.

Settlements. Most Israelis, except for the extreme Left, think that any practical agreement with the Palestinians would include Israel keeping the large settlement blocks and parts of East Jerusalem. Most believe that Israel should evacuate illegal outposts. Obama’s saying “it’s time for these settlements to stop” doesn’t inspire confidence that he knows the difference.

Unilateral concessions. The US is now pressing Israel to open crossings and allow strategic materials into Gaza, but rejecting Israeli demands that this be linked to the release of Gilad Shalit. Huh? The administration seems to be prepared to pressure Israel but not the murderous Hamas.

Acceptance of Arab narrative. Obama compared the Palestinian ‘plight’ with the Holocaust, and suggested that Israel’s legitimacy was based on historical persecution of Jews, especially the Holocaust. This is seen as accepting the Palestinian point of view that the Jews are illegitimately punishing the Palestinians for what Europeans did to them, and in a similar way.

Jerusalem. As I’ve written before, there is  no legitimate excuse for not moving the US embassy to West Jerusalem. The fact that Obama has chosen to continue to support the anti-Israel State Department in this doesn’t inspire confidence. Although even the pro-Israel President Bush was unable or unwilling to do this, it would have been a welcome declaration of independence on the part of this administration.

What he doesn’t say. Israelis would be happy to hear Obama agree with PM Netanyahu that Palestinians should recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people and that the Palestinian refugee problem will need to be solved outside Israel’s borders. These are only reasonable requests of someone who insists over and over that he supports Israel and is committed to her security.

Polls have shown that most American Jews continue to support Obama. But most American Jews are not very connected to Israel and are not thinking very deeply about the issues. Those who are concerned should ask themselves whether they ought to simply accept blanket statements about support for Israel or pay attention to more specific policies.

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5 Responses to “Why Israelis are worried about Obama”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I believe Vic Rosenthal probably tires of my compliments. But I find his writing on Israel the most exact and telling I know. He goes to the essence of things and presents his case in a logical and persuasive way.
    Along with Iran, Linkage, the Unilateral Concessions , Acceptance of the Palestinian narrative, Jerusalem,and What He Doesn’t Say I would add two other elements that disturb greatly. The first is that his close people in dealing with Israel , George Mitchell and General Jones have historical records of favoring the other side. The second is the training of Palestinian forces which could play a disastrous role should there be an overall outbreak of violence. Israel should be watching the development of these forces very carefully. No one is to be trusted here, and what General Dayton teaches the Palestinians today might be used against Israel tomorrow.

  2. Grandma says:

    Thoughtful analysis Vic. Do you think now that the Iranian leadership has told the U.S., Britain, Germany and France they are no longer “buddies” because of their criticism of the elections and support of the protestors, that Obama will realize the type of people he is trying to deal with, while dissing Israel? Ah, Israel is the only sensible country in the Middle East.
    It’s time for our president to grow up.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Unfortunately I think he knows what kind of countries he is dealing with. I think the administration has made a decision to tilt in the direction of the Arabs because this is where they think US interests lie — and because Israel is too dependent on the US to go against its wishes.

  4. pavelaw says:

    Here’s yet another thing: Obama’s entire knowledge of and attitude toward the Middle East, was learned from Rashid Khalidi, who is revered by Obama. Say no more… .


  5. Grandma says:

    Have you noticed how we refer to the relationship with Israel and the Arabs in terms of “the administration or Obama”? We do not use the term, ” We Americans or We The People”. The American people have a deep-seated, long term relationship with Israel (to say nothing of the religious connection) through administration after administration. There are millions of Americans who do not voice their opinions on the worldwide web or in letters to the Editor. Come election time, is when they speak. Let’s just pray that Obama doesn’t ruin us all before 2012.