Sunday, November 04, 2012

Israelis want to be loved

On the weekend before the US Presidential election, the Features section of The Jerusalem Post is full of articles about Obama and Romney and their respective merits vis-a-vis Israel. 
In "Texas, Nebraska, Indiana: Why Israel is a red state," Herb Keinon points out why Israelis prefer Romney to Obama by about 80%, while American Jews support Obama by the opposite margin.  This emphasises that we are not "one," as the UJA ads used to say, but we are in fact "two."  The interests of American Jews in the election are mainly domestic (taxes, healthcare, deficits) while the overwhelming concern for Israeli Jews is foreign policy (Iran, Palestinians, UN).  Martin Sherman in "Obama, Islam and Israel" points out the concern regarding Obama's perceived softness towards extremist Islam, while Alon Pinkas counters with "President Obama, a friend."  Then in "How Obama saves Israel" Sarah Honig takes a cynical view towards Obama's support for Israel, comparing it to how Neville Chamberlain "saved" the Czechs before WWII.  There were also articles in previous days pointing out that the current relationship between Israeli and US security and armed forces has never been closer.
But, as Obama himself has emphasized, US support for Israel from his perspective is purely in US interests. Israel is a security and military asset to him, no more.  Yes, there was a huge joint military exercise recently, yes the relationship at the military level is closer, but is that what Israelis want?  Actually, for Israelis its not enough.  We want to feel that we have a friend in the White House, that whoever sits in the Oval Office is really concerned about our future safety.  Is this expecting too much?  Probably, but we can't help it, we also want to be loved (or at least liked). 
By never visiting Israel as President, by courting the Arabs and delivering his first major foreign speech from Cairo (now a defunct gesture since Mubarak has been overthrown), by making the US position more extreme (on settlement building) than that of the Palestinians (thus rendering negotiations impossible),  by disrespecting our Prime Minister on several occasions, and by then using Israel to win over US Jews, Obama has made himself persona non grata with Israelis.  We fear his second term if he is re-elected. Our fate as a State and our lives will be in the President's hands if there is war with Iran over their nuclear weapons program, and we fear he will (again) vacillate and not be firm in the necessary defence of freedom (much as happened in Benghazi).  We don't know if Romney has a gut reaction of friendship towards Israel, but we are willing to trust him rather than Obama.


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