Saying that “the one-year anniversary of a presidency is always an occasion to assess how a new president is doing,” the head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) last week rated the Obama Administration’s first year in Middle East diplomacy, with suggestions for areas of improvement and possible next steps.
In a speech to the League’s National Executive Committee, meeting Friday in Palm Beach, Florida, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman gave the following grades to President Obama and his foreign policy staff for their efforts thus far on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
- “A” for effort, with good intentions and efforts to create the conditions necessary for bringing together the Palestinians and Israelis for negotiations;
- “C-” for strategy, pointing to the administration’s “unrealistic expectations” and heavy-handed focus on Israeli settlement policy;
- “F” for failure to achieve results, with little movement achieved thus far, with few prospects for talks on the horizon, and for what was essentially, “…a wasted year without any negotiations.”
“I believe that it’s fair to say that the president fits nicely into a long tradition of American presidents on the Middle East and Israel, and he tried very hard in his first year to bring the parties together with good intentions,” Foxman said in his address to ADL leaders from across the country. “So, I sincerely believe President Obama deserves a solid ‘A’ for his efforts.”
However, “The administration … focused on trying to speed up the process toward peace, and is now questioning its own strategy,” said Foxman. “So in my estimation, the Obama administration earned a ‘C-minus’ for strategy.”
“Since there are no prospects of talks on the horizon, and in many ways what their efforts wrought was a wasted year without any negotiations, I believe the administration deserves an ‘F’ for failure to deliver on results.”
Foxman said that while the conditions for a comprehensive peace – including issues of Jerusalem, refugees and a demilitarized Palestinian state – are “not yet ripe,” he holds out hope that improved economic and security cooperation between the sides could lead to an eventual return to negotiations.
“I’d like to see the president focus on what is truly achievable in a region where the Palestinians continue to be divided between Palestinian Authority control of the West Bank and Hamas control of Gaza and where it remains unclear if the Palestinians truly accept a Jewish state,” said Foxman.