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Monday, January 05, 2009

Moonbats disappointed: Obama won't back terrorists

In an article in Monday's New York Times, Scott Shane complains that President-elect Obama has not spoken up against Israel's actions in Gaza (Hat Tip: Hot Air).
During his presidential campaign, Mr. Obama promised a new, positive approach to the Muslim world, including “America Houses” offering English lessons in Muslim countries and an “America’s Voice Corps” to spread the truth about American values. Mr. Obama’s aides have said he will unveil the new approach with a speech in a Muslim capital during his first 100 days in office. But Israel’s invasion of Gaza, and Mr. Obama’s studied silence about it, threatens to short-circuit his plans for an American image makeover.

Critics abroad and at home have noted that Mr. Obama’s “one president at a time” policy did not prevent the president-elect from speaking out against the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in November, when he condemned what he called the “hateful ideology” of militant Islam.

In the absence of any new statement, many have recalled Mr. Obama’s remarks last July in the Israeli town of Sderot, where he implicitly recognized Israel’s right to respond militarily.

“If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” he told reporters. The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, quoted Mr. Obama’s statement in justifying the attack on Hamas during a news briefing on Dec. 29.

Martha Joynt Kumar, a political scientist at Towson University who studies presidential transitions, said Mr. Obama’s predicament exemplified the treacherous weeks between election and inauguration, and the way inspiring visions inevitably give way before unexpected events.

“On a campaign, you control what you talk about and when you talk about it,” Ms. Kumar said. “When you begin governing, you have to respond to what happens in the world.”
Maybe Obama's been bitten by reality? We can only hope and pray. But given that Harry Reid and Dick Durbin (now, there's a shocker) have come out in favor of Israel, what makes the Times think that anyone will listen to Obama if he opposes Israel on this?

At Al-Guardian, they're also upset that Obama isn't backing Hamas.
To maintain the hardline US posture of placing the blame for all current troubles squarely on Hamas, to the extent of repeatedly blocking limited UN security council ceasefire moves, would be to end all realistic hopes of winning back Arab opinion - and could have negative, knock-on consequences for US interests in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf.

Yet if Obama were to take a tougher (some would say more balanced) line with Israel, for example by demanding a permanent end to its blockade of Gaza, or by opening a path to talks with Hamas, he risks provoking a rightwing backlash in Israel, giving encouragement to Israel's enemies, and losing support at home for little political advantage.

A recent Pew Research Centre survey, for example, showed how different are US perspectives to those of Europe and the Middle East. Americans placed "finding a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict" at the bottom of a 12-issue list of foreign policy concerns, the poll found. And foreign policy is in any case of scant consequence to a large majority of US voters primarily worried about the economy, jobs and savings.

On the campaign trail, Obama (like Clinton) was broadly supportive of Israel and specifically condemnatory of Hamas. But at the same time, he held out the prospect of radical change in western relations with Muslims everywhere, promising to make a definitive policy speech in a "major Islamic forum" within 100 days of taking office.

"I will make clear that we are not at war with Islam, that we will stand with those who are willing to stand up for their future, and that we need their effort to defeat the prophets of hate and violence," he said.

As the Gaza casualty headcount goes up and Obama keeps his head down, those sentiments are beginning to sound a little hollow. The danger is that when he finally peers over the parapet on January 21, the battle of perceptions may already be half-lost.
It's tough to find the political advantage for a western leader in adopting the Muslim narrative when his country hasn't been overrun by Muslims yet, isn't it?

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At 8:25 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

More to the point - no Western government officially backs or talks to Hamas. Why should Israel do what the West itself won't do? Let's be clear about what Israel's acceptance of a ceasefire really means: a demand to leave Hamas intact with its capabilities to strike at Israel unimpaired. No Israeli government can accept such a demand and no other country in the world faced with what Israel is faced with would accept it either. There is no point to Israeli wartime deaths if it does not change the situation permanently in Israel's South and in Gaza itself.


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