Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mini-Guide on Different Groups' Responses to Obama's Trip to Israel

By Barry Rubin

Since President Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East was such a turning point for U.S. policy, I thought it should be summarized by showing characteristic responses of different groups. These are, of course, generalizations, and there are many variations.

One mistake that's being made is this: from being a relaitvely bad president regarding bilateral relations and attitudes toward Israel, Obama has become a fairly normal one. His statements are then being judged by people on the right as terrible when they are merely those of his predecessors.
At the same time, Obama supporters miss the continued reservations toward Israel's situation and policies and especially his continued regional policy to conclude that Obama is--as he tried to pressure Netanyahu to say--the best president ever for Israel. 

So how do different sectors react to Obama's trip? The responses are very interesting.

The Far Leftist: Why has Obama been so nice to Israel? He’s sold out and become just another typical president who backs Israel. How infuriating!

The Left-Liberal: Did you see how Obama told off the Israelis and demanded they make peace? Of course, the people love him and it is only the reactionary leaders who oppose a truly great president who is doing a great job. He hasn’t changed at all; he’s just found a clearer way to articulate his position.

The “Mainstream” Liberal (Current Version): We told you so! Of course Obama loves Israel despite all of that propaganda against him, and he really showed it this time. I’m so glad I voted for him twice.

The Moderate to Conservative: Oh, no! Obama has pulled it off again! Now the Israelis love him and we’ll never get American Jews to oppose him. How depressing!

The Militant Conservative: Ha! Did you hear what he said in this speech and that speech? Insulting Israel and just attacking it while apologizing for the Palestinian side! This is just one more proof of his enmity! How infuriating!
The Palestinian View:  Obama been so nice to Israel! He’s sold out and become just another typical president who back Israel. How infuriating! Well, we expected this, so we won’t negotiate and will try either to engage in struggle or parlay our recognition as a state into getting the 1967 borders with no concessions.

The Islamists: Of course he’s just another Christian crusader as we’ve always known. He’s never helped us but just retreated out of weakness because he’s afraid of us!  This has removed the illusions that diplomacy might work. Only armed struggle will ultimately wipe Israel off the map!

The Serious Israeli Observer: Thank goodness! After more than four years of hard work and with the help of the other side’s intransigence, we got Obama to see reality in policy if not always in rhetoric, which is far less important.  Perhaps a narrow escape from what would have been the most anti-Israel president in history by far. Look, the American people elect the president and then we have to deal with whomever they choose. Sure hope he wakes up about the Islamists and stays tough on Iran.

You can also read my article in the Ottawa Citizen on Obama's policy shift.

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