Friday, July 9, 2010

Israelis Cling to their Guns... er...Prejudices

President Obama gave some interviews to various Israeli media outlets. When you look at his full statements they don't look as bad as when you focus only on the snippets - but the snippets don't look very good, nor are they particularly reassuring:
During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that "some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion."
When asked whether he thought Netanyahu was the right man to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians, the U.S. President said that "I think Prime Minister Netanyahu may be very well positioned to bring this about," adding that Israel will have to overcome many hurdles in order to affect the change required to "secure Israel for another 60 years"
My understanding of "end of conflict" is more than a mere 60 years, but that may just be me.


Bryan said...

I believe Mr. President was referring to the fact that Israel is around 60 years old (it's 62, true, but he also said once there were 57 states). I agree, though, that it was a bit silly to say.

His quote about having a short timeframe I initially misread and understood to be about Iran, only to be disappointed when he realized he was talking about the peace process.

RK said...

Like Jeffrey Goldberg, I don't have much faith in the stenographic abilities of Israeli newspapers, so seeing at least a full transcript would be nice, absent independent confirmation. The "60 years" remark would especially be bizarre unless prompted by the context.

Is some of the animus against Obama animated by things like his middle name being Hussein? Clearly it isn't for a lot of Israelis, but I can only offer the fact that such sentiments were common at the (national orthodox) yeshiva in Israel where I learned. As for how widespread those sentiments are, all we have is speculation (just as many people speculated during the U.S. election). I'll just note that for all the talk about how Israelis have soured on Obama, the polling data aren't consistent on that point. For instance, the Haaretz-Dialog poll two months ago found that most Israelis think Obama's treatment of Israel is fair.

Anonymous said...

as a stenographer myself I like to point out that it is not newspapers who do the stenographing ...

other than that I of course know and I have known for decades that anything Americans do is vastly superior, more reliable and so absolutely perfect that nothing any old worlder can ever come up with can even remotely compare.

and here is the White House transcript and I'll be looking forward to your explaining what he didn't say this time around or maybe that the stenographers of the White House aren't reliable enough either

"the Israeli people are going to have to overcome legitimate skepticism, more than legitimate fears, in order to get a change that I think will secure Israel for another 60 years."

do I get it right, that Israelis have a bigger problem overcoming skepticism because that is bigger than their legitimate fear
the man sure knows how to sound ambiguous

RK said...

Thanks for the link, Silke. (I probably should've Googled first.) It's certainly a strange reference in context, but I guess 60 years of security is pretty good in historical terms.

4infidels said...

The statement is classic Obama. What other reason could there be for his unpopularity in Israel than his middle name? The Israelis are bigots. It seems that Mr. Outreach, Mr. Dialogue, Mr. listen-to-all-views, doesn't hesitate to assume the worst of citizens of the Jewish state.

His whole foreign policy has been about reaching out and building better relations with Israel's enemies while showing indifference and hostility to Israel's concerns. He has crossed red lines that no other American President (while in office) has. From his membership in a church that published articles written by members of Hamas to his political associations with individuals and groups hostile to Israel to his administration appointments of Israel haters. He doesn't visit Israel; he doesn't stand up for Israel in the international arena; he doesn't condemn anti-semitism from his own National Intelligence Director nominee; he considers the Holocaust as a tragedy similar to the Palestinian "nakba"; he has pushed the phony linkage idea that somehow progress with the Palestinians would lessen Iran's hostility to Israel; and so on and so forth...

RK said...

While we're picking nits, he also stumbled here: "if we apply the principles of Tikkun [sic] and repairing the world".

Naturally, Obama's aides will say it was a whiffed attempt at referring to tikkun olam, but we savvy centrist observers know he was really talking about Michael Lerner's anti-Israel rag.

4infidels said...


Everything that comes out of Obama's mouth is what either enemies or harsh critics of Israel would say. That shouldn't surprise as those are the folks with which he has surrounded himself.

Rather than see Israel's security needs...

It is the Israelis who need to get over their fears and anti-Muslim bigotry.

Israel should remember its commitment to Tikkun Olam and see peace as an act of "repairing the world."

Being critical of Israel doesn't make you anti-Israel; there is more discussion of different viewpoints in Israel than in America.

Hamas and Hezbollah have legitimate grievances; they are hurting their just causes by their terrorist tactics.

Being pro-Israel doesn't mean supporting the policies of Likud. This is a new line I am hearing among anti-Israel activists these days; I am not anti-Israel...I just disagree with the policies of Likud as do many Israelis. Usually then all the criticisms that have been directed toward Israel are then directed toward Likud and its supporters in the US. Unfortunately people with this view usually don't seem to be able to distinguish Kahane from Jeffrey Goldberg.

Obama has said that he believes there are many people in Israel who want though the Arabs have always been on the peace train and the only thing holding us up is waiting for the Jews to hop on board.

He talks about Netanyahu being hesitating from making larger moves toward "peace" due to his political coalition, which discounts just how many times Israel has offered to partition historic Palestine with the Arabs. When it comes to Abbas, he says that Abbas has "Hamas looking over his shoulder." That it...if not for Hamas, Abu Mazen would step forward as the great peacemaker that he is at his core.

Anonymous said...


60 years of security is a lot in historical terms but for a leader aiming at just 60 years is - let me be polite - a bit unusual ...

and no you shouldn't have googled first, you should have insulted us stenographers neither before nor after googling ;-)

and here is my question again, as a non-native English speaker, do I understand it correctly?

Israel's skepticism is bigger than its fears i.e. Israelis are getting called paranoid again?

I guess Jews who sounded the alarm over point 4 of the 25 points of the German worker party would have been told the same
- that's just talk, they don't mean it, they will outgrow it, just like what we are being told about the Hamas charter - or to say it in for once very adept German "sie wollen doch nur spielen" (they only want to play) - that is said whenever somebody shows fear of an overly "friendly" dog.

and no RK, people who worry about "who is Obama" do not look for hidden references, they just take the man at his word and listen carefully as with anybody else who has power over their lives hoping to decide whether they can trust him.

For the US it may be a very big deal having a black president and it will probably do a lot of good, but from far away his skin colour and his growing up all over the world is more in the range of "so what"? (the stories about kids being all aghast at their first black face are, judging by my own experience, fabrications by writers lacking in imagination or having too much of it)

Anonymous said...

OT but kind of cute

for once Didi has a post interesting to me, I only hope the mayor hasn't made Turkish mouths water with his idea for a potential cash cow - I'd prefer the money to flow into Israeli coffers preferably into a fund dedicated to providing extras for the wounded IDF-ers

Haifa Mayor wants to turn Mavi Marmara into “floating hotel” so it can turn into “symbol of reconciliation and hope”

Barry Meislin said...

Obama uses his words very carefully. They are calibrated to counterbalance his actions, to throw people off balance, to prevent them from understanding what his goals are; and he's been doing this consistently since before he was elected.

And even though for an increasing number of Americans, the jig is up, there is much damage still to be wrought.

Israel is (along with the American Jews that support it) being set up by a malevolent government that has no love and no use for it...

...and, for that matter, no love for America, either.

As for Jews being able to live with adversity, the next round of hostilities, in addition to saturation targeting of Israel's population centers, will be accompanied by widespread attacks on Jewish (and other targets) in Europe, Scandinavia, the UK and possibly even in North America.

Publicizing those photos, by the IDF, is necessary, but fruitless, since it should be understood that as a result of many years of constant "saturation deligitimization" by its enemies and those whose moral imperative it is to see Israel destroyed, nothing Israel does will be able to generate any sort of "understanding" of Israel's need to destroy hospitals, schools and private homes from which missiles and rockets will be launched, and which house Hezbullah's (and Hamas's) command centers.

The citizens of the world are simply not interested in hearing or seeing anything that might enable Israel to defend itself either morally or physically.

Their minds are made up, or have been made up for them, by the relentless barrage of Palestinian propaganda.

With this degree of moral bankruptcy not seen since the 30s, the world appears to be aching for another "correction" not seen since the 40s.

Anonymous said...

I admit to being paranoid but I wish for an a bit more pronounced uttering of "unbreakable" - it comes pretty close to the beginning

- Imagine if JFK had said "Berliner" with the same kind of emphasis
or Reagan !open this gate" - "tear down this wall"

I just hope the military hasn't given up its time honoured habit of looking at maps and taking them seriously - yes Germans were meant to be the battle field if things would have blown up and yes a lot of us were aware of that but while they kept on not coming to blows I, very personally I, enjoyed the peace and the calm and the prosperity of being at the eye of the storm. If there is any kind of justice Israelis are entitled to at a minimum the same blessing.

PS: look at the Reagan video and notice how disrespectfully/impolite/silly Chancellor Helmut Kohl behaved while his high guest was speaking - just imagine for a moment the world wide heart attack of the commentariat if Netanyahu should do the same with Obama ...

Empress Trudy said...

You can't put any more stock in anything Obama says other than his need to keep leftist Jews funding this year's election cycle. That's all there is to this.