Ron Radosh: Why Conservatives Should be Critical of Obama’s Middle Eastern Policy, But No Longer Attack Him as an Enemy of Israel

tags: Barack Obama, foreign policy, Israel, Ron Radosh, Zionism, PJ Media



Ron Radosh is a PJ Media columnist and Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute.

I, along with other supporters of Israel, have for the past few years rightfully been critical of President Obama and his position on the Middle East, beginning with his disastrous Cairo speech and his misguided decision to combine a wooing of the Arab world with a decision to put U.S. pressure first and foremost on Israel. Particularly, Obama chose to make settlements the most important issue regarding the peace process.

The major change during his two days in Israel was a decisive shift in approach, which many of his ardent supporters have been loath to acknowledge. This shift was succinctly pointed out by veteran foreign affairs analyst Leslie Gelb:

In Israel, Obama went further than ever in trying to placate Bibi’s position. The president said that the issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the hottest button for Palestinians, should not be dealt with in advance of negotiations, as the Palestinians demand, but should be placed on the table only after the negotiating groundwork has been set. Indeed, almost everything Obama has said on this trip backpedals on his earlier priority of freezing those settlements. This is a body blow to Abbas and his supporters that can be assuaged only by a real Washington push for negotiations, one that involves U.S. positions disliked by Bibi and bound to cause moaning among many Israelis.

If one puts this truth first, Obama’s speech the next day to leftist students may be seen as the other side of the coin. Roger L. Simon is not alone in responding favorably to Obama’s words. It was, as David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel perceptively points out, a “left-wing Zionist speech,” perhaps the most cogent statement of such a viewpoint that the Israeli public has heard since the old days of Habonim and Hashomer Hatzair, the two most important Zionist left-wing youth groups of the ’50s, ’6os, and Israel’s early period of labor Zionism....




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