Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Righteous Indignation

A quick media tracking sweep of Jerusalem Post and Haaretz reveals that Israeli opinion on the Obama Netanyahu meeting is less than favorable. Obama is characterized as being naive and generally too soft on Islamic fundamentalism. Israelis had low expectations for the meeting and things generally seem to have gone according to expectations. These views are not unique to Israelis however. American Jewish columnist Jeff Jacoby also takes a swipe at the failed history of peacemaking as a result of Arab intransigence in today's Boston Globe.

While skepticism is well-founded, cynicism is perhaps less so. To wonder whether or not an American president with little background in Middle East politics can bring effective change is a reasonable doubt. However, as the metaphor goes, a drunkard who drops his keys is not likely to find them by walking across the street and checking under the lamppost, even if it is easier to see there. Many in the Israeli and American press are looking under the so-called lamppost of cynicism because it is easier and makes the most sense on a superficial level. However, opportunities for progress, no matter how significant, will not be found under this lamppost. It will take gaining enough of a reason to venture into the dark to motivate progress towards sustainble security.


Update - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman makes a statement that the meeting was successful, more so than portrayed in the media. This reinforces the point that significant disagreements between Israel and the US are not in Israel's national interest. Lieberman does however make a distinction between agreement on the end goals and agreement on the means to achieve these ends.


Sources:

1) Shmuley Boteach, "No Holds Barred: Netanyahu Must Find Mettle to Resist Obama's Pressure,"
Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2009.

2) Israel Harel, "Obama is Dividing Jerusalem,"
May 20, 2009

3) Barry Ruben, "The Region: Don't Overestimate the West's Naivete - or its Resolve,"
Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2009.

4) Jeff Jacoby, "Peace Isn't Arab Goal,"
The Boston Globe, May 20, 2009.

*5) Ora Koren, "Lieberman: Obama-Netanyahu Meeting Went Better Than You Think,"
Haaretz, May 21, 2009.

*added as part of update 5/21

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