“From our vantage point here in Ohio, the campaign was caustic, exploited people’s worst fears, and was even insulting to the intelligence of voters,” Zinkow told JNS. “As a result, here and across the country, [Obama] will have much healing to do.” Regarding what Obama’s victory means for Israel, Zinkow said the U.S. and Israel “are friends and allies, regardless of who is president.”
Rabbi Mitchell Levine of Congregation Agudas Achim, also in Columbus, described “a season of robust political debate” that was “healthy for democracy.” While the election will not likely solve what Levine called an “underlying problem of political gridlock,” Jews still used the process to “remain a unified people,” he told JNS.
In South Carolina, a state Romney won, Rabbi Jonathan Case of Beth Shalom Synagogue in Columbia told JNS that both candidates spoke “the same language when it came to Israel.”
“In their televised debates and at rallies they were both forcefully arguing for Israel’s security and the need to fend off the potential danger from Iran,” he said. “Long gone are the presidential contenders who are anti-Israel.”
Stanley Dubinsky, the director of Jewish Studies at the University of South Carolina, said he thinks Obama’s “goals for the Middle East should be to learn about the complex nature of politics there, so [he will] have ideas that are less simplistic and thereby dangerous.”
“Maybe he’s learned his lesson from Syria and Libya, maybe he’ll be less naïve,” Dubinsky said. “That will be welcome.”
Although he said Obama is tacitly supporting, or at least not opposing, Islamic radicalism in the Middle East, Dubinsky is not worried.
“That would worry me if there was a clear march of Islamic groups to consolidate power, but in the last 12 months the Islamic world has turned into complete chaos,” he said. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, said the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu “is completely fine” and that he doesn’t “expect any change regarding Israel in Obama’s second term.”
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Obama will not “take revenge on Israel” in his second term and that the president “will focus on his legacy; mostly on internal issues, on foreign policy and especially on the Arab world.”
Commentary magazine’s Tobin told JNS that moving forward, the U.S.-Israel relationship “will partly be defined by the attitudes” of the administration but will also be dictated by Israel’s “antagonists” – the Palestinians and the Iranians.
“It could be that even Barack Obama has learned his lessons about the Palestinians and won’t be wasting any political capital – as he did consistently, especially over his first two years in office, when trying to tilt the diplomatic playing field in their direction only to find out that they weren’t interested in talking, anyway,” Tobin said.
“It could be that even with his best intentions to engage with Iran or craft a sort of secret deal or not-so-secret deal with Iran, that Iran won’t do a deal, and that he will have then painted himself into a corner since he has pledged never to allow them to go nuclear, and indeed in the third presidential debate pledged that he would not allow them to have a nuclear program anyway, even in a deal.”
“The nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship will…be defined by the decisions that Israel’s foes make, and that’s the variable,” he said.
(JNS)Jacob Kamaras and Alina Dain Sharon
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