Is Obama "Good" for Israel?

There has been plenty of nervous chatter and hand wringing concerning how President Obama may or may not alter the U.S.’s position towards Israel and specifically the (ongoing and usually unproductive) peace process.  We are very interested in seeing how his upcoming meetings with Arab and Israeli leaders are handled, especially his upcoming meeting with Netanyahu tomorrow.  

As discussed in this article in today’s New York Times, Obama’s background may be very positive (or could at least lead to a change of pace).  Obviously, the United States’ approach for the last 10 -15 years has not worked.  

Mr. Obama’s predecessors, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, came of age politically with the American-Israeli viewpoint of the Middle East conflict as their primary tutor, said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator. While each often expressed concern and empathy for the Palestinians — with Mr. Clinton, in particular, pushing hard for Middle East peace during the last months of his presidency — their early perspectives were shaped more by Israelis and American Jews than by Muslims, Mr. Levy said.

It is indeed time to bring additional considerations to the table.  Although we do not expect the facts on the ground to actually change all that much, it’s pretty pessimistic to throw up our hands and call it an “intractable conflict.”  

Although it is inconvenient to admit as much, the Palestinians have been handed a raw deal.  By their fellow Arabs, by their own leaders, and yes, even by the government of Israel.  It is important to recognize the legitimacy of their concerns, for they, too, are created “in the image of G-d.”  President Obama (who one of us voted for, and one of us did not) may have the personal background and perspective that’s needed to broker something slightly better than absolute stalemate.

P.S.:  We weren’t born yesterday and are well aware that Israel/Palestinian issues inspire particularly vivid reactions, several of which we share simultaneously within our own little skulls.  By all means, put your insights and venom in the comments section below. 

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Beth Emunah Messianic Synagogue in Agoura Hills, CA, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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