There’s something strange about the Left’s response to the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Washington next week. This odd element can be summed up in three words: “Nothing will happen.” The Left is clenching its teeth and is disappointed – not with Netanyahu, but rather, with Obama.
Barack Obama is not a regular president. The leftist camp views him as a rightist, while the rightist camp views him as a leftist. Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize laureate and a leftist economic, wrote a book (Freefall) that includes harsh criticism of Obama, for “continuing the policy of George W. Bush.”
Stiglitz says that instead of leading major changes, Obama’s efforts are tantamount to rearranging the chairs on board the Titanic. He is disappointed because Obama is not undertaking moves such as nationalizing the major banks and raising taxes for the rich, therefore failing to turn the United States into a Scandinavia-style welfare state.
On the other hand, the other side of the political spectrum is replete with accusations that Obama is a socialist (if not overly communist,) a “non-American” president, and that he hides his intentions to turn the US into a….Scandinavia-style welfare state.
Indeed, on the one hand Obama passed a revolutionary bill in Congress that obligates every citizen to acquire health insurance, with the State doing it for people who cannot afford it. On the other hand, Obama relays on the existing structure of insurance companies and HMOs that work for profit.
Proving skeptics wrong
Obama’s foreign policy is even more complex. On the one hand, he is withdrawing US forces from Iraq. On the other hand, he boosts America’s military presence in Afghanistan. On the one hand, he is reaching out to Iran. On the other hand, he has adopted unprecedented sanctions against it.
On the one hand, Obama elicited from Netanyahu a temporary construction freeze in the West Bank. On the other hand, and this is especially infuriating for the Left – Barack Hussein Obama, a black American president with a Muslim father, has granted Netanyahu sweeping recognition as a bona fide peace seeker, after Netanyahu presented to the president (in a face-to-face to meetings) his vision for a final-status agreement.
Obama’s uniqueness is perceived as a weakness by his rivals: A too-flexible spine and exaggerated will to compromise. The truth is the opposite: Obama is determined, tirelessly aspires to reach his goals, and is committed to his pledges in a way that only few politicians are.
All the laws that he inspired and were passed by Congress initially encountered absolute skepticism by commentators, who predicted that the president will fail, just like Israel’s Left currently predicts a foretold failure in the talks between Netanyahu and Abbas.
Yet Obama surprised the commentators, homed in on his political objectives like a laser beam, and got them. He has not reached 100% success – he only aims for 75%, making do with achieving 75% of his target: He said that perfection is the enemy of achievement. Just listen to him.
Had the talks’ outcome hinged only on the Israelis and Palestinians, we could have eulogized them already. However, the outcome depends on the organizer, Barack Obama. Loyal to his achievement philosophy, he will aim to bring Netanyahu and Abbas to agree on a deal that will be different than what we’ve been accustomed to so far.
We may not be able to refer to it as a “final-status agreement,” but it will certainly prompt a fundamental change in the relationship among Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world.
And here is the first proof of this: Netanyahu positioned the debate on security arrangements, which are more practical and have a better chance of succeeding, at the center of the discussions. “The depth of the withdrawal hinges on the depth of security,” he is in fact saying to the Palestinian leadership. This is a new proposal, which is acceptable to Obama. The previous proposal – “The depth of the withdrawal hinges on the depth of peace” – has failed.
Indeed, I believe in Obama, and this is why I’m optimistic.
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