October 19, 2019

Will ‘President Obama’ be good for Israel?

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Although Israeli officialdom is not commenting on the possibility of a Barack Obama presidency, in private some officials in Jerusalem are expressing mixed feelings about the prospect.

There are concerns in some government quarters that Obama (D-Ill.), the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, might be soft on Iran, pressure Israel to make concessions on the Palestinian track and even change the tenor of the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States.

Yet Foreign Ministry experts on U.S. foreign policy say no American president, Obama included, would adopt an overtly anti-Israeli posture.

There are hopes on Israel’s left wing that an Obama administration will be more hands-on in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, perhaps even pressing the parties into a mutually beneficial deal. By the same token, there are fears on the right wing that an Obama administration and the Israeli government could be on a collision course, especially if the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu wins the next Israeli election.

Obama’s powerfully expressed commitment to Israel at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington on last week went a long way toward assuaging Israeli fears.

Israeli officials noted Obama’s readiness to use force against Iran if necessary, his promise to maintain the IDF’s qualitative edge, his support for isolating Hamas and his commitment to Israel’s Jewish character, with Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

” title=”Bloggish:”>Bloggish, February 1, 2008

Just before the big simcha at American University where Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) anointed Sen. Baruch Obama as JFK’s successor, Obama was on a 23-minute conference call with members of the Jewish press.

The phone call was yet another attempt to stop the lashon hara about Obama’s religion, honesty and pro-Israel record—lies and slander circulating in some Jewish communities on and off line.

The news of this call was eclipsed by the Kennedy blessing.  On any other news day, Obama’s outreach to Jews would have been a headline story.

I grabbed the MP3 of the conference call from our friends at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency so we could serve the audio locally, and save the JTA some bandwidth, and here it is: