Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Americans Stand by Israel

For any Israelis that worried about the United States' stance on Israel with the new Obama administration, worry no more: While the Obama administration is likely to push for ceasefires and diplomatic talks as much as it can, Mr. Obama will continue the US policy of defending Israel's sovereignty, safety, and actions. Allow me to elaborate.

Many have somehow worried that Obama's quiet stance on Gaza was a sign that he harbors quiet anti-Israeli tendencies. Not so, I am rather sure. More likely, Obama's quietness allows him to appear neutral coming into the negotiations, which will assist the Israelis more than anyone. The Israelis made sure to rush into this war so that they would not immediately force Mr. Obama into a difficult spot with them, and Mr. Obama has graciously responded by staying out of it for now. it was a wonderful piece of diplomacy, and something that quietly reaffirms Obama's commitment to working with Israel into the future.

The House passed a bill today affirming "Israel's right to defend itself" 395-5 (with a few abstentions, it seems)--it was sponsored by Nancy Pelosi, House majority leader. Big deal? Yes. The House, including a vast bipartisan majority and its Democratic leadership--is behind Israel, and willing to go out on a branch for it.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid also supports Israel's action in Gaza, saying (I paraphrase, sorry): "Hamas has to go." He sponsored a resolution with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supporting Israel's action, and it passed unanimously. That's right, unanimously.

So the new wave of American politicians are firmly and undeniably in the Israel camp. The tactics might be different, but the support isn't. Even if Obama does harbor some anti-Israeli-policy sentiment (which I really can't say either way, I just hear a lot of people complain about it), he certainly has no room to try to do anything about it--his party is firmly a pro-Israel party for at least the next fair while. This will be significant for the Israeli elections coming soon: American approval of the current party's action (Kadima) should raise confidence that they should keep the same horse in the race--I expect full well that Kadima is going to run away with this election and have a new mandate among the Israeli electorate.
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