Mr. Obama Takes His Perpetual Campaign to Israel
That old community organizer spirit of stirring up the grass roots citizenry with populist demagoguery has served Obama well here in the States, and it now appears he's going to try a bit of the same when he visits Israel next week.
According to Reuters news reports, the US President plans to try an end-run around Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and attempt to persuade Israelis directly that he is not as antagonistic toward their country as his actions show him to be -- and which they clearly realize as a hallmark of his Middle East attitudes since the day he took office and made his infamous "apology speech" in neighboring Egypt, without so much as a brief visit across the border to the Jewish State.
Israelis, unlike the majority American Jewish voters, have a keen sense of who their real friends are and whom can be trusted when serious help is needed -- causing Obama a major public opinion problem among the Israeli populace. It's not surprising that his use of perpetual campaigning tactics rather than direct action and real governance, which we have observed for the 4+ years of his administration, should inform his strategy for kidding the Israelis.
Achievement of a genuine peace between Israel and her neighboring Palestinian enemies is not at issue presently, as it is obvious that the Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish State next door continues to make any true peace impossible in any foreseeable future. The overriding purpose of this visit is, instead, continued efforts to persuade Israel that Obama's administration really will do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from developing deliverable nuclear weaponry -- in order to con the Israelis out of acting to defend themselves by any sort of pre-emptive military action until it's too late.
Netanyahu is too smart and too cynical to fall for that, but Obama hopes that he can snake-charm the men and women of the Israeli street as he did so many of those in his own country. Of course, if any foreign head of state pulled something similar here, we would -- rightfully -- scream bloody murder about interference in our internal politics. But The One can do no wrong, and the press will whitewash every aspect of his visit, and the Israeli government doesn't dare openly criticize him.
WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - After nearly four years of often testy relations with Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama is about to try a different tack - going over the head of Israel's prime minister and appealing directly to the Israeli people.
Obama's first presidential visit to Israel next week, while certainly including meetings with Netanyahu, will focus heavily on resetting his relationship with the country's wary public as he seeks to reassure them he is committed to their security and has their interests at heart.
All signs are that Obama hopes the strategy will give him more leverage with the right-wing Netanyahu - politically weakened by January's election in which centrists made surprising gains - to pursue a peaceful resolution with Iran and eventually address the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.
When it comes to an outsider meddling in a country's internal political interests, there is certainly an interesting contrast between the Obama snake-charmer efforts to campaign around and past the elected leadership and the behavior of Jack Kennedy, who told the crowds in Germany, "Ich bin Berliner," or Ronald Reagan, who spoke to the Russian oppressors by demanding, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Israelis will continue to understand that Obama is hardly one with them, nor is he likely to act effectively on their behalf to protect them against Iran.