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Mere PR Will Not Make A Successful Mideast Policy

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Obama has not turned out to be a conventional liberal Democrat who is also willing to be a faithful friend of Israel as many, if not most, Jewish Democrats expected when they pulled the lever for him.

Though the vast majority of Jewish voters dismissed Republican claims that Obama’s associations with anti-Israel extremists such as the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi would color his judgment in office, it turns out there was more to this line of argument than mere partisanship.

As demonstrated by his decision to bestow the presidential Medal of Freedom on former Irish President Mary Robinson – best remembered for presiding over the festival of anti-Semitism that characterized the 2001 UN Durban conference – Obama is not a man who understands or respects mainstream Jewish sensibilities.

Obama’s eloquence is a formidable diplomatic tool, but the idea that it can be used, as the president has said, to convince Israelis to “reflect” on their policies and change their tune is not only astoundingly arrogant, it’s wrong.

Israelis already want peace and have shown time and again they are ready to make sacrifices to achieve it. What is lacking is a similar commitment from the Palestinians. No amount of presidential eloquence or American PR ought to convince Israelis that further concessions on their part will bring peace until Palestinian leaders match Obama’s words with deeds.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.

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