Obama, Don’t Be a Friend of Israel!


Let’s hope Obama won’t be a friend of Israel, writes Gideon Levy in a recent Ha’aretz editorial. Now before you get your knickers in a knot, read on:

When we say that someone is a “friend of Israel” we mean a friend of the occupation, a believer in Israel’s self-armament, a fan of its language of strength and a supporter of all its regional delusions. When we say someone is a “friend of Israel” we mean someone who will give Israel a carte blanche for any violent adventure it desires, for rejecting peace and for building in the territories…

That’s just how we like U.S. presidents. They give us a green light to do as we please. They fund, equip and arm us, and sit tight. Such is the classic friend of Israel, a friend who is an enemy, and enemy of peace and an enemy to Israel.

Let us now hope that Obama will not be like them. That he will reveal himself to be a true friend of Israel. That he will put his whole weight behind a deep American involvement in the Middle East, that he will try to solve the Iranian issue through negotiation – the only effective means. That he will help end the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas, that he will push Israel and Syria to make peace, that he will spur Israel and the Palestinians to reach a settlement.

We should hope Obama will help Israel help itself, because that is how friendship is measured. That he will criticize its policy when he must, because that, too, is a test of true friendship.

Let him use his clout to end the occupation and dismantle the settlement project. Let him remember that human and civil rights also apply to the Palestinians, not only to black Americans. And apropos world peace, he needs to start with peace in the Middle East, home to the most dangerous of conflicts, which has been threatening the world for a century now, and is feeding international terrorism…

Changing the Middle East was in the power of each and every U.S. president, who could have pressured Israel and put an end to the occupation. Most of them kept their hands off as if it were a hot potato, all in the name of a wonderful friendship.

So bring us an American president who is not another dreadful “friend of Israel,” an Obama who won’t blindly follow the positions of the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government. You did promise change, did you not?

Hear, hear. And those of us in the American Jewish community who agree with the above should do everything we can to give Obama the cover he needs to be such a friend…

7 thoughts on “Obama, Don’t Be a Friend of Israel!

  1. Paula David

    What a blatantly anti-Israel and one-sided piece to applaud. Yes, if only Israel will negotiate, the Palestinian conflict will be solved, Syria will give up stockpiling weapons and supporting the Hizbollah in Lebanon, and Iran will hand over its nuclear sites to its good friend America. I consider myself left-of-center and pro land-for- peace, but such an article, and your wholehearted endorsement of it, makes me “lean right” just to get some balance back in the picture.

  2. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


    I’m a little puzzled how you could call a venerable and respected Israeli journalist like Gideon Levy “anti-Israel.” I’m hoping that’s not an epithet you only reserve for folks who don’t agree with your point of view.

    As to the “one-sided” nature of his piece: his point is that the US’s unwavering support of Israel’s policies has been precisely that: one-sided. I agree that we need to get some balance back in the picture – and one critical way we can do that is not to give a blank check to Israel when it acts in ways we believe are counter to the cause of peace. (Israel’s unmitigated settlement in the occupied territories are a prime example). That’s not being “anti-Israel.” That’s, as Levy puts it, a “true friendship.”

  3. Eric Selinger

    Well, Brant, I’m with you on this one, even if viscerally I know how Paula feels.

    The kind of “support for Israel” that means, in practice, support for the occupation, has been bred into many of us from a very early age. We do it in our own JRC Sunday school, I suspect, without even realizing it; when I was growing up, it was a conscious part of the agenda. (There were no “Palestinians” back then–I was taught they were a lie invented by neighboring Arab states to embarrass us Jews.)

    But it’s not just upbringing that’s at stake. I have a cousin in Sderot who stayed with us for a while last year; getting to know her has tempered my enthusiasm for the Gaza pullout somewhat. To side with Levy, you have to have some other, equally powerful value or faith to balance the gut sense that somebody’s going to get hurt here, and it might as well be “them” and not “us.”

    I’m glad I have a rabbi who has that faith, even when I don’t. Better, MUCH better, that than the other way ’round.

  4. Paula David

    You’re right, “anti-Israel” is not a good term. I am speaking from my profound disillusionment after two unilateral pullouts that have not caused peace and haven’t even given Israel a moral advantage on the world stage. I don’t see how withdrawing from Palestinian territory is going to work, no matter how odious occupation is to me. As an Israeli citizen, it terrifies me. If Obama pressures the Israeli government to stop continuing to build in the occupied territories, that’ll be great. Returning land is a different story. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of dialogue he manages to establish with Arab countries. Personally, I could do without the Iranian and Hizbollah announcements that Israel will soon be wiped off the map. I have children to raise here!

  5. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


    Of course unilaterally withdrawing from territories will not work. That is only a recipe for creating a power vacuum and chaos. (Which is what we now have in Gaza, tragically). True peace and security can only be achieved with a properly negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. And the fact remains: Israel has NEVER negotiated a peace accord with another Arab nation without the direct involvement and diplomatic efforts of the US. Which is, again, why I fervently hope the Obama administration will try to break the utter paralysis of the past 8 years and press both sides to make the hard decisions they will have to make to come to the table and hammer out a peace accord at long last.

  6. jerry sachs

    mazel tof
    I’m proud of you Pop and mom also.

    Bye bye

    Jerry Sachs and Latu
    Ps Your dad and mom also say we are proud.

    Stay vell

  7. Moishe


    I see that the reform and conservative movements are staying faithful to their Sabbatean overlords.

    I hope you rot in hell with your mentor Stephen Wise.

    (By the way, you lost Dustin Hoffman to our side, as I hear he is premiering the new Moriah Productions “Against The Tide” film)

    Regardless of Jewish indignations or beliefs, you are truly an enemy of the Jewish people.

    I’m glad that we circumcised you early when you ingrates still didn’t have a say in your future. That scar will remind you who is your real daddy.


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