Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Israel Matzav: A word of caution about Obama's 'turnaround'

A word of caution about Obama's 'turnaround'

I have a sense of deja vu regarding President Obama's seeming turnaround. In the last couple of months, he has seemingly let up on pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu and has lowered both the tone and the priority of the 'peace process.' Now, word is coming out of Washington claiming that Obama's speech on Thursday night will be conciliatory to Israel, and well it might be if he doesn't want to be booed out of the room when he speaks to the AIPAC convention on Sunday.

I feel like we're back in 2008. We're being told to ignore the fact that Obama sat in Reverend Wright's anti-Semitic church listening to his sermons for 20 years and listen only to what he is saying now. We're being told to ignore the fact that one of Obama's closest advisers called for sending US troops to Israel to enforce a 'Palestinian state' because he fired her anyway and she won't be part of his administration. We're being told that the 'new Obama' understands that Prime Minister Netanyahu has done all he can to bring about peace and that he realizes that we cannot even negotiate with an entity that includes an unrepentant Hamas. We're being told all these warm and fuzzy things. And they are all a lie.

When we look at Arab leaders, we are constantly warned - and rightfully so - to look at what they are saying in Arabic before accepting what they say in English at face value. In fact, an entire cottage industry (principally MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch) has sprung up to translate the words of the Arab media into English. Similarly, we cannot just accept what Obama says to Israel supporters and ignore what he says to our opponents. So let's look at what Obama said to one of our opponents (whose word I have no reason to doubt on this), the insufferable MJ Rosenberg.

In 2007, the day after Obama declared his candidacy for president, I met with him in his office (I was then working for Israel Policy Forum).

Obama listened carefully while I explained why it was critical that he be an "honest broker" on Israel-Palestinian issues. Nothing I said, including my opinions of AIPAC's influence, would surprise anyone who reads my columns. My bottom line was that the occupation was terrible for the United States, for Israel and, most of all, for the Palestinians and that he should understand that the status quo lobbyists who defend everything Israel does are not representative of the Jewish community or anyone else.

Obama listened, cupped his ear, and said, "I can't hear you."

I didn't understand; I was sitting right next to him.

He then said: "No, not literally. I mean that I don't hear from people like you. But I hear from AIPAC {he then named the local AIPAC leader in Chicago} every week. I'm going to be President and, when I am, it is your job -- you and all the people who feel the way you do -- to make sure I hear that message. You cannot simply rely on t


he belief that you are right. You need to raise your voice so that I hear you and not just them."

So maybe, just maybe, the President wants us to shout and holler about, what appears to be, a sellout to AIPAC. After all, he is making no attempt to cover up what he's doing or why he's doing it. He only hears one voice.

Maybe Obama's latest actions are a cry for help.

Don't just read Yoram Ettinger's headline and assume that all is well for Israel in Washington. If Obama wins in 2012, all is not well. Every action Obama takes for the next 18 months has one goal and one goal only: To get himself re-elected. Once that happens (God forbid), the Obama who visited MJ Rosenberg, the Obama who sat in Reverend Wright's church, the Obama who was close friends with Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah, is likely to come out of the closet.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: A word of caution about Obama's 'turnaround'

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