WASHINGTON – "Barack Obama is the best thing Israel has going for it right now," the New York Magazine's cover story declared on Monday.
The in-depth feature said that Obama's policies regarding Israel were the diplomatic equivalent of "tough love" – which it said Israel needed, despite its reluctance to accept it.
The magazine exposes the immense frustration felt by White House officials by what it calls the Jewish perception of Obama as the most anti-Israel president since Jimmy Carter.
The cover (screenshot)
"Barack Obama is the best thing Israel has going for it right now. Why is that so difficult for Netanyahu and his American Jewish allies to understand?" the magazine wonders.
The feature goes on to detail Washington's frustration and fury over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal behavior towards Obamas, as well as with his obstinacy vis-à-vis the American president's Mideast vision.
The frustration, the article said, was shared by Vice President Joe Biden Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and former Mideast envoy George Mitchell; all of whom "were apoplectic with (Netanyahu) whose behavior over the past two years had already tried their patience."
"The collective view here is that (Netanyahu) is a small-minded, fairly craven politician, and one who simply isn’t serious about making peace," an administration source privy to the efforts resume the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said.
The nearing UN General Assembly and the looming Palestinian bid for statehood will see Obama and Netanyahu arrive in New York practically arm-in-arm, as the Obama administration has been scrambling to reach compromise which will prevent Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from forging ahead with his bid.
Chances of that, however, are slim; and the US has pledged to veto the bid should it come before the Security Council – despite the damage it may have on America’s standing in the region.
Through the looking glass
According to New York Magazine, Washington's unwavering willingness to go to bat for Israel, and the robust security relationship between the countries, is why the administration is so frustrated by what they call the Jewish community's 'warped perception' of Obama, and especially among the Jewish voters in the US.
"How, exactly, did Obama come to be portrayed, and perceived by many American Jews, as the most ardently anti-Israel president since Jimmy Carter?" the magazine wondered, adding that the so-called "Jewish electorate's revenge" may eventually threaten the president's second term in office – a claim denied by Obama's associates.
"But the truth is that they are worried, and worried they should be, for the signs of Obama’s slippage among Jewish voters are unmistakable. Last week, a new Gallup poll found that his approval rating in that cohort had fallen to 55% – a whopping 28-point drop since his inauguration," the magazine said; further quoting one of the president’s most prolific fund-raisers as saying “There’s no question… We have a big-time Jewish problem.”
"Obama’s team has made its share of errors," the article said. "History has been cruel to Obama, forcing him to succeed the wrong Bush – the one whose support for Israel, unlike that of his father, was uncritical to the point of blindness."
The piece recalls a quote by White House counsel and Obama mentor Abner Mikva, who – in the last days of the 2008 campaign said that “When this all is over, people are going to say that Barack Obama is the first Jewish president."
The New York Magazine believes that while that prediction was over-optimistic, there might be more truth in it than meets the eye.
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