President Obama in Israel: So far, So Good!

In the past, I have been highly critical of what I perceived as the Obama Administration’s attitude, actions, and words in relations to the state of Israel (here, here, and here). On his first visit to Israel as President of the United States — and the first foreign visit of his second term — President Obama has said and done the right things to assure Israelis — and those in America who support the Jewish state — of his and our country’s unwavering support for Israel.

Listening to the remarks of President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Wednesday afternoon’s Press Conference in Jerusalem, there can be no question that America’s Commander-in-Chief is committed to the security of Israel and the region:

My main goal on this trip has been to have an opportunity to speak directly to the Israeli people at a time when obviously what was a pretty tough neighborhood has gotten tougher and let them know that they’ve got a friend in the United States, that we have your back. That we consider Israel’s security of extraordinary importance to us, not just because of the bonds between our people, but also because of our own national security interests.” (President Obama’s remarks at the Joint Press Conference, March 20, 2013)

If President Obama’s actions line up with his words regarding America’s strongest ally (and only true Democracy) in the Middle East, then Israel will continue to have a strong friend in the United States. Despite the misgivings of many in the United States (and in Israel) to President Obama’s commitment to Israel, the President knows full well that a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will be mutually beneficial to all parties:

Israel’s security will be enhanced with a resolution to this issue. I believe that Palestinians will prosper and can channel their extraordinary energies and entrepreneurship in more positive ways with a resolution to this issue. The entire region will be healthier with a resolution to this issue.” (President Obama’s remarks at the Joint Press Conference, March 20, 2013)

There will continue to be skeptics who refuse to believe anything that President Obama has to say when it comes to Israel. Some (many) of these skeptics believe that the President is a secret Muslim who is just waiting for the right moment to throw Israel under the bus. I admit that I have entertained my own doubts about President Obama’s commitment to the Jewish state of Israel. As he admitted in his Press Conference, there are probably things that he could have said or done differently in his first term which may have caused some folks to question his support of Israel.

I might be proven wrong, but I choose to take President Obama at his word when it comes to his — and his Administration’s strong support of Israel. Time will tell, but what other true friends does the United States really have in the Middle East or in the World? We can probably count those friends on one hand. Israel might not be number one, but the people of Israel sure could make a strong case as to why the Jewish democracy should be. After his first visit to Israel as President, maybe — just maybe — President Obama will be persuaded. One can only hope.

2 comments for “President Obama in Israel: So far, So Good!

  1. Milton Robins
    March 23, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    So,

    Do you think the Israeli government has a role to play at all in the resolution of the conflict? For instance, what of the unique structure of apartheid and occupation the Israeli government has imposed on the Palestinian people? And what measures do you think the Israeli government can take to ultimately help bring an end to the conflict?

    I ask these questions because I think you’ve done a fair job pointing out what the United States’ and Palestinian’s role is in the conflict, but I’ve noticed that any meaningful discussion of Israel’s responsibility in the conflict is conspicuously missing from your analysis.

    Also, I want to interact with this statement here a little bit:

    “…Israel might not be number one, but the people of Israel sure could make a strong case as to why the Jewish democracy should be.”

    Israel’s discriminatory policies towards the Palestinian people could hardly be described as “democratic.” I think we, as Peter Beinart points out in his op-ed piece in the New York Times, should make a distinction between “two Israels” based on current realities on the ground. He writes:

    “We should call the West Bank “nondemocratic Israel.” The phrase suggests that there are today two Israels: a flawed but genuine democracy within the green line and an ethnically-based nondemocracy beyond it. It counters efforts by Israel’s leaders to use the legitimacy of democratic Israel to legitimize the occupation and by Israel’s adversaries to use the illegitimacy of the occupation to delegitimize democratic Israel.”

    America certainly has an extremely vital role to play in the conflict, and my hope is that the Obama Administration will see the importance of our role from a multilateral standpoint to help bring peace to the region. And that is–rather than some strong show of support to a flawed democracy–my hope.

    Until next time, my friend

    • March 27, 2013 at 7:59 PM

      Milton,

      Sorry for the delay in responding, but I have been out of action for the last few days 😉 I do think the Israeli Government does have a role to play in resolving the conflict, but I would disagree with your characterization of “apartheid and occupation.” The number one enemy of the Palestinian people is not Israel’s, but the Palestinian politicians and governing authorities who have a vested interest in keeping their own people in subjugation. If not, there could have been a “two-state solution” long ago. As I view “Israel” as both a land problem (or promise) and a people problem (promise), I believe that God has ultimately promised all of what is now modern-day Israel — including the West Bank in general and Jerusalem in particular to the Jewish people. Of course, that promise, in and of itself, has a spiritual component which would include not just physical Israel, but spiritual Israel and the offspring of Abraham through Jesus Christ.

      I don’t doubt that Peter Beinart, writing in the New York Times, would come to that conclusion 😉 I would disagree with him — and perhaps you by extension on that point — but will agree that the Obama Administration can have a significant role to play in the peace process in the Middle East. We may not agree as to how that should look, but hopefully it will look better this four years than last. As always, thanks for the interaction and your insightful comments. God bless,

      Howell

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