Photo: Meir Partush
Eitan Haber
Photo: Meir Partush

Weak Obama bad for Israel

Op-ed: Israelis should not be rejoicing at US president’s expected elections defeat

Elyakim Rubinstein, the former government secretary and head of the negotiating team with the Palestinians, has a great arsenal of jokes, some of them in juicy Yiddish.


Once upon a time, at the White House, Yitzhak Rabin sat down for lunch with President Bill Clinton. The two leaders brought along their teams to the meal. In order to create a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, Rubinstein opened with a joke. Clinton returned the favor. Rubinstein had another joke. Everyone was laughing. Clinton had another joke. Again, everyone was laughing. And so on and so forth.


Rabin glared at Rubinstein once, twice, and three times. His glances pled with Rubinstein to call it quits with the jokes. Don’t you know that the US president always has the last word?


I recall this humorous occasion at this time as all sorts of doomsayers are rejoicing at the American president’s downfall. In the upcoming November elections, he may “lose his shirt.” His Democratic Party is helpless and vulnerable in the face of the polls. Look at that, Obama’s objectors around here say, Democratic candidates asked the president not to visit their districts, lest his appearance harm them.


Well, as Mark Twain said once upon a time, “rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.” This is true in respect to the Israeli eulogies and joy at Obama’s decline. Policy-makers and Obama objectors around here should keep the following in mind: Even a beaten, defeated president is still the US president, and at worst he still has more than two years in office (personally, I believe that he will be serving for another six years.)


Our global status at risk

Should a bruised, hurting president think for a moment that his actions on the Mideastern front undermined him and prompted his defeat (which isn’t true,) he may tell himself and his advisors what many in America have been saying – I’m fed up with the Israelis, with the Arabs, and with the conflict. The US president is just a human being, and he is sensitive and vulnerable, so even though “taking revenge” against Israel contradicts fundamental, longtime American policy, he may be in bad spirits, and the results may be disastrous for us.


Yet on top of it, all the State of Israel’s power in this world, in the past and at present, stems from its position as the 51st US state, a satellite and protectorate, even without an official defense pact. Any world leader who has something to say about the State of Israel first glances in Washington’s direction, in a bid to gauge the great America’s response. China’s president admired Israel in light of the American attitude, even though his conduct contradicted his own country’s interests.


A wounded American president means, for us, a weakened global status for Israel among the family of nations. Hints from Washington about “hitting the Jews and thereby saving America” may be fateful for Jerusalem.


We tend to put our trust in US Jews; they will save us from any harm. Yet those who feel that way should realize that the power exerted by the Jewish lobby in Washington is smaller than it used to be. What’s worse, many US Jews, too many, are becoming detached from Israel. They’ve grown tired of us. Indeed, for us, with the exception of a defeated, humiliated president, this is the most urgent problem.



פרסום ראשון: 10.29.10, 14:00
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