Friday, October 12, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/12/2012: Excusing Obama's Mideast Mistakes

From DG:

Looking at that sentence again

There was a sentence in the Washington Post's analysis of Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech that's worth emphasizing. Writing about President Obama's mistakes regarding the Middle East, the editors wrote:
He led the Middle East peace process into a blind alley through his wrongheaded quarreling with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a point Mr. Romney harped on.
This is consistent with the observations of editorial board member, Jackson Diehl, since 2009, that Mahmoud Abbas waited for pressure to be brought on Netanyahu rather than seeking to make peace with Israel.

It's a point that some people still don't get. In a recent letter to the New York Times, J-Street founder Jeremy Ben Ami wrote:
The truth is that 74 percent of Jews supported Mr. Obama in 2008; an average of 70 percent have supported Democratic presidential candidates for decades; and 70 percent support the president today. Contrary to popular belief, Jews do not vote primarily on Israel, and they do want presidential leadership to achieve a two-state solution. 
When the media buy into these myths about the Jewish vote, the tragedy is that policy makers then shy away from pressing for Israeli-Palestinian peace for fear of political consequences that never materialize.
One can't deny that President Obama pressed for peace, but he did it in a woefully inept manner. He pressured Netanyahu to freeze settlements only to have Abbas refuse in return to negotiate in good faith. People like Ben Ami only made the situation worse by providing cover for Abbas by falsely claiming that it was only or mostly Israeli intransigence that was responsible for the lack of a peace process.

Responsible presidential leadership involves identifying the problems and not making matters worse. And if there's no immediate hope for peace then responsible presidential leadership means recognizing that and not pressing.

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