Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama & Israel

There has been quite a bit of analysis throughout the blogosphere concerning what Obama's speech and policies mean for Israel, and for the U.S. - Israel relationship. Some hope that the president will put more pressure on Israel to make concessions toward some sort of peace with the Palestinians, others fear that our long alliance with Israel is threatened. And some of course think that his speech was essentially meaningless, and that things will continue more or less as they have, with relatively minor changes. I fall mainly into the third category.

Obama can't force the Israelis to do anything. He can annoy them, and pressure them, even hold up certain types of aid. But ultimately Israel will have to decide what it wants to do. At the same time, I don't think even Obama is stupid & reckless enough to push things to the point where he completely wrecks the U.S.-Israel relationship. He can damage it in his foolish attempts to draw some sort of equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, but I think it is strong enough to survive his presidency.

People who think that Obama can somehow solve the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate are living in a dreamworld, and this may include the president himself. Even the successful establishment of a Palestinian state -- which should not be a U.S. goal even though it is -- solves nothing. It will just create a new set of problems on top of the old ones that will remain. Arabs will continue hating Israel, and hating the U.S. for supporting it. Nothing will be good enough for them short of the complete erasure of Israel from the map. 

The most hopeful outcome of Obama's "peace" plans is that the status quo remains more or less intact with minor changes. And I think that's also the most likely outcome.

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