21 thoughts on “About to Meet Bibi, Jews Say: ‘We’ve Got Your Back, Mr. President!’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Richard, this and your previous two posts, especially the one about Iran, shows that you weren’t off on vacation these last few days as I thought. They lead me to the comment that you and IPF seem a bit too optimistic about what Obama can/will do. He has turned his back on almost every campaign promise he has made – ending the war in Iraq, Af-Pak, health care, changing the system on Wall St., etc. Why should anyone think he’s going to change past policies with Israel? I assure you, Bibi and Aipac have the upper hand. War with with Iran is predetermined and though Obama may blah, blah, blah, he will do nothing about it, nor can he. Have a nice weekend.

    1. turned his back on almost every campaign promise he has made – ending the war in Iraq, Af-Pak, health care, changing the system on Wall St., etc.

      Not so- rash and false especially after hardly four months in office.

      Obama has also said that the US is a huge ship and that it won’t ( can’t) turn around on a dime… not in four months and probably not four years in many areas we’d like to see change immediately. From the beginning with re Obama expectations have been unrealistically high and in some areas especially as how quickly things can change. Impatience will make the previously disillusioned and despondent only more disillusioned and despondent. And these sentiments exerts a drag of their own.

      1. I agree that not everything can be turned around on a dime, and in those areas some patience is needed. On Israel/Palestine I don’t think he has disappointed yet. In other areas however, such as excessive and unwarranted government secrecy and the gutting of due process for terrorism suspects (which means ultimately for everyone) he’s a major let-down, continuing with only minor changes the absolutist policy of his predecessor. (And I don’t care if he’s a more benevolent ruler than Bush; an unaccountable executive branch damages the foundations of a democracy, no matter if the Prez is a Good Man or not.)
        Groucho’s quip, “military justice is to justice what military music is to music” turns out more of an insult to military music than he may have thought.

        1. “…(which means ultimately for everyone) he’s a major let-down…”

          Not for me. I purviewed every remark, statement and campaign promise out of Obama with the skepticism of a sleeping Greek – one eye closed and the other bug eyed open. So for me this Obama character ‘rocks.’

  2. I have no doubt that President Obama will in no way be coerced by the new Israeli premier into continuing the tragic play-act whereby Israelis live and Palestinians die on the basis that Israeli swimming pools are more important than drinking-water for the indigenous people of Gaza and the West Bank.

    Our President is patently not a patsy of a foreign power as was his predecessor and will insist that Netanyahu recognizes that he speaks for a small minority nation of just 4.8 million. We are 308 million and we shall overcome this bigotry and prejudice that has so damaged the world over the past decades. Enough is enough.

  3. <>

    I agree. But do you TRULY believe that this is possible, even if the government of Israel actually wanted to? Will Israel ever be ready (able) to return settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim, and other such entrenched aspects of the new reality on the ground? (And this doesn’t even begin to address even more underdiscussed but even more complex issues such as water rights)

    And if the answer to these questions, in our deepest heart of hearts, in no, is it not disingenuous for American Jews to be supporting the latest incaranation of the peace process?

    (BTW: I have no good answers to these myself – these are truly the questions that keep me up at night.)

  4. @gene

    I agree with Suzanne. It’s ONLY been 4 months. Geesh. Hold your horses. People are so quick to hang this man.

    Running for office is a lot different than holding office. Yes, Obama will be breaking promises. But don’t ALL politicians. I’m sure you’re an adult grown man so you already know this. So, it’s time to apply your common sense.

    Israel is at risk. A weak US means a weak Israel. There is too much hostility towards Israel and that’s dangerous. Something must be done. Two state solution seems promising. Yes, it will have it’s ups & downs. You’ve got both sides with militant forces who have MUCH TO LOSE if peace happens. But people are forgetting the children and Israel’s future. Little Israeli children have the right to grow up without being scared they’ll be bombed. The check points in Israel are ridiculous BUT necessary. Will it be like this in 25 years?! It will if things continue as they are. Why are the adults on both sides so stuck in there ways they are not motivated to change this.

    It’s the adults on BOTH sides who are selfish, greedy and stuck in past hurts and conflicts. Both sides need to work harder to move towards peace.

    Oh, I enjoy this blog! I just typically lurk.

    1. Jenny – to which checkpoints in Israel are you referring? I have spent a lot of time in Israel and Palestine, and saw very few checkpoints in Israel. The problem that Palestinians (and I) have with Israeli checkpoints is that they all seem to be well inside Palestine. This is what creates terrible hardship on people trying just to get to school, or to work, or to the hospital, or to tend their fields and groves.

  5. It makes sense that many American Jews when faced with the choice of expansion and personal political ambition (Netanyahu) vs some productive reconciliation (Obama), choose productive reconciliation.

    He cuts through the angers, acknowledges that there is substance in the fears and angers of all parties, without buying into them to the exclusion of the other parties.

    Obama is pragmatically hopeful, deserving of support.

    If Israel were sincerely existentially threatened, even liberal American Jews would support Netanyahu, as liberal Americans supported Churchill in WW2.

    But, the current status is diplomatic relations on 2 of 5 of Israel’s adjacent neighbors.

  6. Suzanne, re that clichéd “huge ship” metaphor, I have only one response: Man the life boats! It’s not the ship that can’t turn on a dime, it’s the guy at the helm that has no control over the engine room.

  7. Oh my! Campaign statements and promises by politicians aren’t the same thing as an elected presidents actual actions and policies once in office. I’m shocked!

    Its not a crime to shade the truth or even lie in the pursuit of political office. Those who don’t know or even minimally aware of the grand divide between candidacy and the robes of office are habitually condemned to whining when their hero’s fail to be excellently pristine. Its also true their enemies are no less fools when they presume such differences in rhetoric and action provide succor or meaning to their hopes and goals.

    The refrain “one swallow does not make a summer” is the best stance anyone can presently take on Obama’s game plan regarding the Middle East. If Obama truly proves to be the pragmatist some people believe him to be than there are going to be some seriously surprised people on all the divides, wanted or not.

  8. RE: “Israel Policy Forum purchased a full page ad in today’s N.Y. Times…”

    MY COMMENT: Good for M.J. and the I.P.F. Very nicely done!

  9. @fiddler : gutting of due process for terrorism suspects (which means ultimately for everyone) he’s a major let-down, continuing with only minor changes the absolutist policy of his predecessor.

    Obama’s military tribunal is going to expand rights for the accused, “prisoners of war”, so that they can defend themselves better. We don’t know what all these expanded rights are nor have I heard a discussion about it. So I can’t jump up and down about it. But I don’t see how this means that we all are subject to less justice than we have.

    One of the problems with our normal court system is that murderers or other criminals that have willingly confessed to their crimes can be excused because of technicalities, like being subjected to harsh treatment or not being read their rights. What also brought that home to me was my sister’s murderer (no doubt about it) was “not guilty” in the eyes of the jury that was selected from a pool that was bound to favor him. In another trial, his accomplice got 25 years ( out in 3). This murderer could have just as easily been an innocent but convicted by a jury that was so inclined. Remember OJ Simpson? That’s our system too.

    So if you are dealing with people who may still be motivated to commit horrendous crimes, crimes of mass proportion, there is a fine line to be walked regarding due process.

    1. @Suzanne: I’m sorry to hear about your sister.
      I’m not saying the existing system of civilian and military courts (under the UCMJ) is perfect, far from it. But it’s also true that several terrorists have been convicted in federal courts – Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Zacharias Moussaoui, Ramzi Yousef, Richard Reid, John Walker Lindh come to mind (though also the highly dubious case against Jose Padilla). There’s no such success for Bush’s kangaroo courts.
      AFAIK, one of Obama’s changes is that coerced statements will not be admissible any more, which is no doubt a good thing. But that’s not the core of the criticism, it’s that this new, lesser tier of the judiciary is specifically tailored to ensure convictions of certain defendants, effectively on the executive branch’s say-so, instead of independently and fairly evaluating the evidence. If this is not so, then why have military commissions at all? The existing system may be flawed, courts and juries do make mistakes, but why should we believe the President was any less fallible? It’s not like the current system was overly prone to err on the side of acquittal after all – unless you want to believe the US has by far the largest prison population on earth because Americans are the most criminal people in the world.

      I remember OJ Simpson – and I prefer 10 OJs being wrongly acquitted to 1 innocent being wrongly convicted. Remember the rule of law exists to protect the people from the government, not the other way ’round. All those procedural rules you dismiss as “technicalities”, the Miranda rights, the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard (“may still be motivated” is no good enough by a long shot) exist for this reason.

  10. Just when I was feeling depressed about the ability of Obama to stand up to Israel (knowing that Congress has always taken the side of Israel over 9 US Presidents), I read your blog — which gives me hope. Finally, American Jews are organizing to support an American President who has pledged to support a viable and contiguous Palestinian state. It is 42 years late, but better late than never. Thanks for the good news, Richard.

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