Thursday, July 2, 2009

Has Obama Turned Against Israel?

Has Obama Turned Against Israel? Alan Dershowitz thinks not in today's Wall Street Journal. As he writes:

Are these fears justified? Rhetorically, the Obama team has definitely taken a harsher approach toward Israel compared to its tone during the campaign. But has there been a change in substance about Israel's security? In answering this question, it is essential to distinguish between several aspects of American policy.

First there are the settlements. The Bush administration was against expansion of West Bank settlements, but it was willing to accept a "natural growth" exception that implicitly permitted Israel to expand existing settlements in order to accommodate family growth. The Obama administration has so far shut the door on this exception.

I believe there is a logical compromise on settlement growth that has been proposed by Yousef Munayyer, a leader of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League. "Obama should make it clear to the Israelis that settlers should feel free to grow their families as long as their settlements grow vertically, and not horizontally," he wrote last month in the Boston Globe. In other words, build "up" rather than "out." This seems fair to both sides, since it would preserve the status quo for future negotiations that could lead to a demilitarized Palestinian state and Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish one -- results sought by both the Obama administration and Israel.

...with Iran's burgeoning nuclear threat, it's important to be vigilant for any signs of weakening support for Israel's security -- and to criticize forcefully any such change. But getting tough on settlement expansion should not be confused with undercutting Israel's security.

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