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.