Michael Totten

Time for a Re-Think

“This”:http://rothkopf.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/07/17/jerusalem_post_poll is really extraordinary:

Throughout the political campaign Barack Obama argued that he was a staunch friend of Israel. In Cairo, in his ground-breaking speech to the Islamic world, he asserted America was committed to the security of Israel. Wherever he goes he says he is committed to upholding America’s long history of supporting the Jewish state.

So how come a Jerusalem Post poll conducted late last month says only six percent of Israelis think the Obama administration is pro-Israel, down from almost five times that in the early weeks of the administration? This is such a low number that it clearly cuts across all parties, demographic and social groups within Israel. It effectively says that something that Obama has done in his first six months in office has convinced virtually all the Israeli people (at least to the extent the poll is truly representative of the people of Israel) that he’s not what he said he was.

I was in Israel when President Obama was inaugurated. I watched the inauguration on television in Jerusalem at the American Jewish Committee office. Most Israelis in the room seemed deeply moved, much more so than I was. Some were nearly in tears. I wonder how they feel now.
Precious little, if any, good is likely to come from this. Michael Doran “lays it all out”:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mesh/2009/07/obamas-opening-gambit/ at the Middle East Strategy at Harvard Web site. I strongly suggest you read the whole thing, but here’s the bottom line:

The White House has sacrificed some credibility on the Israeli side, but it surely must have recouped its losses by garnering Arab goodwill. Think again.
[…]
The American engine is revving loudly, but the administration cannot put the car in gear, because significant obstacles block the way. President Obama will soon realize, if he hasn’t already, that the map that his advisers handed him does not match the terrain of the region. He can take some consolation in the fact that every president before him has reached a similar point in the road. Some of them, like Eisenhower, developed new maps as they went along. Others, like Carter, never did. Their place in history has, in part, been determined by their ability to chart a new course.