Yossi Klein Halevi writes about how Obama can salvage the friendly ties between the US and Israel, at a time when Obama's popularity in Israel has sunk:
According to one poll, only six percent of Israelis consider Obama a friend. That perception of hostility is new. Israelis welcomed Barack Obama when he visited here in July 2008 and many responded enthusiastically to his election. But Israelis sense that Obama has placed the onus for restarting negotiations on Israel. Worse, he is perceived as showing weakness toward the world's bullies while acting resolutely only toward Israel. Many Israelis--and not only on the right--suspect that Obama actually wants a showdown with Jerusalem to bolster his standing in the Muslim world. If those perceptions aren't countered, the Israeli public will reject Obama's peace initiatives.
Halevi offers a 6-point plan for Obama to follow:
1. Make clear that renewing the peace process requires simultaneous Israeli and Arab concessions.
2. Reaffirm the Israeli status of the settlement blocs in a future agreement.
3. Actively confront Palestinian demonization of Israel.
4. Affirm Israel's historical legitimacy to the Muslim world.
5. Make clear that the impending nuclearization of Iran, and not the Palestinian problem, is the region's most urgent crisis.
6. Don't treat the Netanyahu government as a pariah.
Read Halevi's article for his explanation and comments about each of the points.
In all due respect, some of the actions demanded of Obama were not fulfilled by President Bush:
o Bush did not clearly affirm the status of Israeli settlements--if he had, we would not have the current mess
o Bush did not forcefully address the demonization of Israel carried out in the Arab media.
o Bush did make a major issue of the historical ties of Jews to Israel.
o Bush vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons--and clearly failed
On the other hand, a number of Halevi's points are merely requiring Obama to either follow through on what he said in his Cairo speech--or correct misconceptions he created.
If more is expected of Obama to set things straight, it is because he had an active hand in disrupting US-Israel ties.