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November 8, 2012 12:52 pm

Israel and Obama: Post-Election Musings in the wake of Democrat Victory

avatar by Isi Leibler

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President Obama. Photo: Wordfromjerusalem.

Being in the US this week during the elections has truly been a remarkable experience and roller coaster. The outcome is that, for better or for worse, the American people have determined that President Barack Obama will serve a second four year term as leader of the Western world.

Aside from Americans, this will probably impact more on us in Israel than any other nation because of our heavy reliance on US political and military support. But the die has been cast and everyone, including those of us who were deeply apprehensive about how a second term Obama would relate to us, must accept the verdict of the American people.

Our government should now concentrate on devising a strategy to maximize a meaningful relationship with the second Obama Administration without compromising our security or independence. This will not be easy but it is achievable so long as we behave rationally, American grass roots support for Israel remains strong and Congress does not abandon us.

Despite the fact that most politicians routinely abrogate pre electoral promises, we should act on the initial assumption that Obama will behave honorably and broadly adhere to the positive undertakings relating to Israel that he constantly reiterated over the past six months. He should be reminded that in the course of the last debate with Romney he went so far as to say “Israel is a true friend… It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel.”

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Prime Minister Netanyahu will be obliged to endeavor to overcome the personal animosity which bedeviled his relationship with Obama and contributed to the troublesome tensions which exacerbated differences between both countries over the past four years.

We should be heartened by the fact that Obama’s “charm campaign” and pragmatic pro-Israeli policies designed to obtain support from American Jews during the pre-election period, suggest that he is not necessarily committed to an ideological anti-Israeli agenda.

Hopefully, from Obama’s vantage, he may have appreciated that bullying or demeaning Netanyahu was counter-productive and in fact strengthened rather than undermined his popular support In Israel.

He must also be aware that over the past few years, despite some erosion within the Democratic party, Congress remains overwhelmingly supportive of Israel, reflecting the record levels of support which Israel enjoys overall with the American people. Should Obama revert to his earlier approach of continuously publicly reprimanding Israel whilst treating the duplicitous Palestinian leaders with kid gloves, he could bring about a confrontation with Congress.

By now, Obama may also have independently reached the conclusion that by distancing the US and exerting harsh pressure on Israel, all he achieved was to embolden the radical Islamists and encourage the Palestinians to become more intransigent in their demands.

Moreover after burning itself on so many occasions in its former failed Middle East policies, the new administration may well decide to distance itself from seeking to resolve the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict.

We should therefore, at least at the outset, adopt a positive approach to the new administration and assume that Obama will adhere to his commitments and that the improvement in relations with Israel created over the past six months will be sustained. However it is important for pro-Israel activists to be prepared immediately to raise their voices should he renege on his electoral undertakings.

This applies particularly in relation to Obama’s passionate pledge that Iran would never be permitted to obtain a nuclear bomb under his watch. He stated repeatedly “As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.”

Israel must also, if necessary, be prepared to initiate a public campaign to explain our position should Obama revert to insisting that the indefensible 1949 armistice lines serve as the opening benchmark for negotiations with the Palestinians.

In addition, American Jewish leaders – presumably led by AIPAC – must as a priority, launch a major campaign to reinforce the traditional pro-Israeli attitude relationship of the Democratic party. Such a course of action would have been equally imperative had Romney been elected.

At a grass roots level there is now unquestionably a growing far-left minority emerging within the Democratic party which is indifferent and, in many cases, outrightly hostile to Israel. It received a boost from the Obama Administration when it sought to distance itself from Israel in order to appease the Arabs.

These trends were accelerated by agitation from Jews bitterly opposed to the Israeli government, as exemplified by Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of J Street who claims to have a better understanding of what is good for Israel than Israelis themselves and Peter Beinart who is adored by the liberal media and calls for a global boycott of Israeli settlements. Ignoring the fact that today, subject to the Palestinians recognizing Israel’s security needs, a consensus prevails in Israel favoring a two state policy – these Jews have been continuously trying to persuade elements within the Democratic party that Israel was the intransigent party and the obstacle to achieving a peace settlement in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The growing influence of anti-Israeli factions within the Democratic party was evident in the course of the party’s recent National Convention with the deletion of positive references to Israel which had traditionally been incorporated in the conference declaration. It was also highlighted dramatically by the chilling and unprecedented booing which greeted the reinsertion of a section recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The reinforcement of bi-partisanship towards Israel is crucial, because if elements hostile to Israel become dominant or even influential amongst either of the two mainstream parties, it would undermine one of the strongest foundations sustaining the US Israel alliance. That the majority of Jews continued to support Obama in the elections should strengthen the ability of Democrats seeking to marginalize the anti-Israeli elements and restore the standing of Israel in the Democratic party.

We may be facing difficult times. But we must remain optimistic in the knowledge that the United States is a democracy. As long as public opinion continues to support Israel, the relationship between both countries may, as in the past, undergo strains and stresses, but will remain intact.

The writer may be contacted at ileibler@leibler.com. This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.

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  • Isi Liebler is an anachronism: he talks about fictional constructs of what the propaganda was over the past 4 years, and uses terminology whereby he direct the READER to believe that he knows the psychology of the person of whom he speaks. Classic evidence that Isi Libler is making it up as he goes along.

    These sentences underlie the propaganda:
    “He may have appreciated that bullying or demeaning Netanyahu was counter-productive and in fact strengthened rather than undermined his popular support In Israel.”

    This writing of history into a historical fiction is bankrupt writing coming from someone who will not use logic in his articles, just presupposition after presupposition and then create an article that furthers blame on him while avoiding like poison any mention of the prime minister perceived correctly by most Israelis as having acted outside the rules of conduct with U.S. presidents, the PMs public mocking of Obama on Iran, the PM’s worst record of leaking of any prime minster in Israeli history which press has reported were the REAL worst fights the Obama Admin had with the PM, as well as STARTING shouting matches with the U.S. Amdbassador when he told the PM he was publicly mocking Obama by mistating Obama’s positions on IRAN.

    Whether you ask the former prime minsters of Israel how to behave with the BENEFACTOR, or you ask the Ashkenazi Gedolim how to behave with deference to the U.S., the PM has failed worse than he has failed with a 25 % approval rating in Israel.

    Obama isn’t the variable: the PM and Abbas have for 4 years been the variables.

    But if no one opens their minds up and takes a stand then we will allow websites with the Isi Leiblers of the word continue to propagandize us in wholesale fashion…along with the Tobins, the Bayefsakys, the Shoshana Breyens, the Caroline Glicks etc….

  • Israel is facing a growing uncertainty. This has been exacerbated by the re-election of President Obama. His policies towards Israel cannot be construed as positive in any sense of the word. While it is true that a majority of American Jews are Democrats, it is their presence in Democrat circles that kept President Obama in check.

    The argument is often made that if Obama is so ‘Bad for Israel’ then why do so many Jews support him? It’s not that Jews support him, it’s that US Jews have been lifelong Democrats. He is the face of the party, but it is the PARTY that Jews have an affiliation with, not necessarily with him. That having been said, were the Jews not there to check his actions President Obama, he would have enacted more outwardly hostile policies towards Israel.

    This is evidenced by his refusal to travel to Israel since he became President of the USA in 2008. He was thrifty enough to visit Sderot in 2008 prior to the election, to curry favor with US Jews, but since his inauguration, he has not stepped foot in Israel. However, he has visited Turkey, Egypt and several other Arab countries – where his true affiliation rests.

    As Jews, we have to guard against these types of snake oil salesmen. Chicago-style politicking may well have a place in US politics but as Jews we must remain ever vigilant and guard against the policies of the Obama administration. The next 4 years are going to prove telling to Americans and indeed the world.

    Obama’s roots have shaped his policies – and they are not in Israel’s best interests. The reality is that the next Israeli administration will have to tread carefully with regards to US support of its actions. The Jewish state can no longer count on the US veto of anti-Israel motions at the UNSC or the GA – until further notice.

    Therefore a caveat is in order: Obama may be surrounded by Jewish lobbyists, but ultimately way too much power is concentrated in his hands and we are all still unsure of what he wants his legacy to be. What we can say with certainty is that he is no longer accountable to the electorate.

    Failing gross malfeasance, he is free to propagate as many economic, political and ideological measures as he likes. There is no re-election issue. Does that make him more dangerous, or less dangerous?

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    Obama is indeed ideologically committed to the extinction of Israel. And without an election he has nothing holding him back. Imagine something as bad as bad could be. Double it. Double it again. That’s Obama’s plan for Israel. Ethnic cleansing with a new prettier MSNBC marketable name. “Lean Forward…..into the oven”

    • Jerry Hersch

      E. Pluribus it is not Obama who seeks to destroy Israel-butAmerican Jewish Republicans who seek to ,perhaps unwittingly,to destroy American Jewry.
      Republican Jews who remained abolutely silent while their party’s nominees vied witheach other as to who is more Christian..Questioned the Christianity of their Mormon candidate..Who question, as they claim, the Christain crededtials of the President..
      Where does that leave non-Christain… Jews ? Already across the nation the creep of Christain theology is entering textbooks-beyond creationism.
      Republican Jews have acquiesced to the Christianizing of American politics..leadership..
      If the acquiescing in politics..Why not in business? social interaction? education ? In many of these areas it has already begun.
      Many safely ensconced in the American Jewish Pale(The Northeast,South Florida,Chicago and LA suburbs and a few other centers) they rarely venture out into the Republican Heartland -the Deep rural..small towns of the Midwest and South..where Jews are still thought of as Non-White Other.
      There are as many as 8 million Jews in America-about two million have no ties to the Jewish community accept pride in who they are.They don’t frequent Aspen..nor Hilton Head..they live in communities that are far flung by ones,twos..families often bearing the daily brunt of anti-Semitism..refusing to surrender to the assault..hoping to mold and change communities people.
      Meanwhile the Republican Jews are ceding everything the previous generations of Jews foughtfor a secular American where all are equal.
      E.Pluribus it is the acuiescence of American Republican Jews that is destroying Jewry.

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