A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
April 15, 2010- Obama and Israel
President Obama and Israel The New York Times had a long article today on the significance of the remarks that President Obama made on Tuesday, they were right about the significance. Those of you who read me regularly should know that ten minutes after I first posted Tuesday’s update I received the transcript of the President’s remarks. I immediately rewrote the update to include those remarks.
The remarks were important, but ultimately not new. Obama's views on Israel are not all that different than his views on many other international subjects, he is a foreign policy realist, not an idealist; not someone who seems to develop relationships with foreign leaders, but someone who seems to make decisions purely in the terms that he sees as American interests. That is why he has stopped pushing democracy in the Arab world and is willing to overlook the probable fatal flaws of Hamad Karzai in Afghanistan, or for that matter, why he held off on meeting with the Dali Lama, or does not bring up the question of human rights in China, which has to outsourced to Google. If President Obama had been in office during the 80’s, freedom of Soviet Jewry would have been delayed. It is doubtful if he had been President in 1948 that he would have bucked General Marshall and others and moved to recognize Israel.
Israel is a democracy, a nation that shares many values with America, etc. etc. While this is true, we must be honest with ourselves. Israel does not cause any of America’s problems in the Middle East, but it certainly complicates them, especially when there is no sense the peace process is moving forward. It does not even matter whether Israel is the real cause of the stalemate or not. So now America has a President who has no emotional ties to Israel. He is not anti Israel, he just does not develop emotional ties to countries or their leaders. To Obama, there are only shared interests. Israel and its supporters have become complacent in their long-term relationships in the United States and their over-reliance on AIPAC and other aspects of the Pro-Israel lobby in the Washington. What they fail to realize is that foreign policy has very largely been the domain of the President; with Presidents, going back as far as Washington, refusing to consult Congress on issues of foreign policy. In the case of President Obama that seems to be even more so than most; with the President seeming to carve out for himself a more central role in foreign policy decisions than his immediate predecessors.
So regardless of how powerful AIPAC is, or for that matter, how right or just Israel’s cause may be, it is in Israel’s strongest national interest for Prime Minister Netanyahu to find the way to become a facilatator of actions President Obama considers in the US's interest. As long as those actions do not violate Israel’s core security interests, then not doing so, will in fact be violating those interests. Almost nothing is more important to Israel’s security than a close relationship with the United States and that relationship (for the next few years) is going to be dependent on the President Obama.
It would be impossible not to write about the news that became official today... Former Prime Minister and Former Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert is the prime suspect in the Jerusalem corruption case, being called "the Holyland Affair." Yesterday his successor as mayor, Uri Lupolianski, was arrested.
Many commentators today commented on is how this scandal is underscoring how central corruption is in the Israeli real estate market. I will go beyond that- in the last twenty years, huge fortunes have been created in Israel outside the area of high tech (since twenty years ago much of the land and the means of production were either owned by the government or quasi-government bodies like the Histatdrut) - the question that will some day need to be answered, is how much of those fortunes were earned honestly. Of course, many of the great fortunes in the US started in nefarious ways as well, so…