Friday, March 19, 2010

Israeli poll

HuffPo reports that a recent poll in Israel shows that Obama has a greater popularity there than in the States. This is in spite of the huffing and puffing (not to be confused with Huffington) of the Jewish lobby about his adminstration's pushback against Netanyahu's recent expansion of settlements. The Israelis have always been far more tolerant of dissent-- and leftish -- than the self-proclaimed spokespeople here for American Jews.

I vowed when I started writing this blog not to take sides on issues in the Middle East, and I will continue to honor that promise. However, I do believe that this political flap about building new settlements is not simply a tempest in a teapot or a spat among friends as some would have it. The significant thing about these settlements is not the timing of their announcement -- coinciding with V.P. Biden's trip to Israel -- but the fact that they are being built in East Jerusalem at all. They were clearly authorized by Netanyahu, since he is the leader of the ruling party, and they are clearly provocative and not essential to Israel's security. People who are sincere about honoring a peace process don't do things like this; did anyone actually ever think that Netanyahu is any more sincere about this than Hamas, say?. In fact, the various representatives of the Palestinians have also taken provocative steps -- including new shelling of Israeli citizens. (All shelling of Israel is aimed at citizens since it is unlikely that the accuracy and range of the weapons used would enable targeting of military concentrations -- even assuming the forces using them wanted to hit anyone but civilians in the first place).

Wrong or right, the Obama administration is clearly frustrated with the Netanyahu government, as is a large number of Israelis. Ultimately, Israeli, not American, voters will decide what comes next.

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