President Obama
Photo: Reuters

Don't write off Obama

Op-ed: US president sustained painful blow in midterm election, but he's not that weak

In his Knesset speech on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke warmly about US President Barack Obama. Officials around the PM avoided any jubilant declarations over the Republican midterm election victory. The opposite was true.


When Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni claimed in her speech that she heard reports about glee over Obama's weakening, officials at the Prime Minister's Office rushed to strongly deny the reports. And rightfully so. The last thing Israel needs is to show delight at the American president's downfall.


Indeed, it is no secret that in respect to foreign policy, it's good that the president and Congress are not from the same party. When Congress opposes the president, we have more room for maneuver on the diplomatic front.


Nonetheless, it would be wrong to think that the blow sustained by Obama is good for us. Israel completely depends on the United States, and a weak president is not a good thing – it's not good for Israel, it's not good for the Jews, and it's not good for America.


However, there is something here that is even more important: Obama is not that weak. He sustained a painful blow, yet he still has two full years left at the White House.


Obama no lame duck

For the benefit of those who forgot: President Clinton organized the Camp David summit and pushed Barak and Arafat into the same room only two months before the presidential elections. Later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set facts on the ground here a few days before the end of the Bush era.


And so, President Obama is not a lame duck, and the fact that America is becoming more conservative is not necessarily good for Israel.


Indeed, in order to figure out whether this is good or bad for Israel, we better first figure out what Israel wants: If PM Netanyahu is seeking an agreement, as he claims to be doing, what he needs is a popular, powerful president with plenty of self-confidence. A president who can force his will on everyone, including on us.



פרסום ראשון: 11.06.10, 14:04
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