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August 2, 2009
'Why Israel is Nervous'
Superior piece in the Wall Street Journal from former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams on the escalating tension between Israel and the US.
Since President Obama came to office on Jan. 20 and then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 31, the main motif in relations between the two governments has been friction. While nearly 80% of American Jews voted for Mr. Obama, that friction has been visible enough to propel him to meet with American Jewish leaders recently to reassure them about his policies. But last month, despite those reassurances, both the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League issued statements critical of the president's handling of Israel. Given the warm relations during the Bush years and candidate Obama's repeated statements of commitment to the very best relations with Israel, why have we fallen into this rut?
Yet no other administration, even among those experiencing considerable dissonance with Israel, started off with as many difficulties as Obama's. There are two explanations for this problem, and the simpler one is personal politics. Mr. Netanyahu no doubt remembers very well the last Democratic administration's glee at his downfall in 1999, something Dennis Ross admits clearly in his book "The Missing Peace." The prime minister must wonder if the current bilateral friction is an effort to persuade Israelis that he is not the right man for the job, or at least to persuade them that his policies must be rejected. When Israeli liberals plead for Obama to "talk to Israel," they are hoping that Obama will help them revive the Israeli Left, recently vanquished in national elections.
Numerous AT writers and bloggers have been saying much the same thing for months. Every move Obama has made regarding Israel seems to have been designed to show the Arab world that he is putting pressure on our ally. This is not likely to bring about peace any more than coddling the Palestinians will. Obama's policies are wrecking the relationship between Israel and the US and far from gaining any influence, Obama is making America less relevant.
Read the whole piece by Abrams for some excellent history of our relations with Israel.