Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why Israel Should Applaud Obama -- Despite His Failed Foreign Policy

Barry Rubin explains Why, As President, Obama is a Disaster and Why, As a Country, Israel Should Applaud Obama.

After starting with a detailed analysis of the failure of Obama's foreign policy -- as evidenced in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt -- Rubin turns his attention to Israel. He notes that in contrast to interest groups in the US such as the health industry, the energy industry, the National Rifle Association, Israel has maintained its support in the US.

This flies in the face of the myth that Israel has tried to undermine Obama:

On the contrary, the Israeli government consciously developed the policy of seeking to avoid any friction with Obama and his government. One key reason was that it knew coexistence with Obama was possible. The other was that it knew avoiding making the situation worse was imperative.

The seemingly most obvious exception —building in east Jerusalem—was based on a prior secret agreement with the U.S. government. The other apparent exception—Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress—came after Obama ambushed Netanyahu by changing U.S. policy toward Israel while the prime minister was on a plane to Washington.

For all the talk about the power and influence of the Israel Lobby, this influence has not manifested itself in changing the opinion of either American Jews nor pro-Israel Democrats.

In fact, pro-Obama American Jews, who comprise a large majority of the community, and pro-Israel political figures have either reconciled the discordant information (Obama is Israel’s best friend); kept their mouths shut; had other priorities; or tried to keep relations as good as possible.

And in practice—a point on which Obama’s supporters are correct--there have been no real, material, huge problems in direct U.S.-Israel relations. What they leave out is that this was also largely due to Arab, Iranian, and particularly Palestinian intransigence. These forces lost the opportunities Obama offered them to undercut Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship because they didn’t rush to seek deals on much better terms.

If in fact the Arabs had taken advantage of those opportunities,Obama would have gladly pressured Israel into making further unilateral concessions.

This was an opportunity Rubin does not see presenting itself again during Obama's second term.

He sees it as foolish to criticize Peres' medal to Obama, Israeli leaders praising Obama or. AIPAC not objecting to Hagel.

It is not the task of Israel’s government to interfere with America’s internally made choices. It is the job of Israel’s government to live as best as possible with those rulers, minimize the advantage, and wait out this period by agreeing, smiling, giving in on small things, and doing everything possible to protect the nation’s security.

It only makes sense for Israel -- and those who directly represent its interests -- to take the diplomatic route and do what is necessary to smooth the relations between the US and Israel.

At the same time, one should not forget the damage done by Obama's foreign policy:

That damage is first and foremost to U.S. national interests; second to the lives of people in Arabic-speaking countries, Turks, and Iranians; and only in third place to Israel.

Read the whole thing.

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