Globe Writer Urges Obama to Meddle in Israeli Elections
In a column published on The Boston Globe’s web site today, Globe Correspondent Alan Berger is urging President Obama to “meddle” in Israel’s upcoming elections. Politicians are, he says, “expected to reward friends and punish whoever dares to cross him.”
He accuses Netanyahu of supporting Republican Presidential Challenged Mitt Romney in the last election and says that he “bent the unwritten rule requiring Israeli leaders to preserve a posture of immaculate neutrality in US elections.”
Yet, during Obama’s campaign, Netanyahu repeatedly stressed the importance of Israel’s relationship with the United States. Despite the fact that President Obama would not give the Israeli Prime minister the assurance that the United States would back Israel on setting a red line for Iran’s nuclear development, Netanyahu praised the American president for his willingness to help Israel in other areas.
Even when CBS reported that meetings between Netanyahu and Obama were “frosty”, it also reported that Netanyahu said that he had had “a very good meeting with president Obama” and reaffirmed that America had “no better friend, no better ally than the state of Israel.” Indeed, CBS was so surprised at Netanyahu’s optimistic attitude toward the talks with Obama that anchor Katie Couric once asked him why he was so positive. Netanyahu praised Obama to Couric, saying, “We actually see eye to eye on … some central issues. The quest for peace. The danger of Iran. The need to bolster security, for Israel and the region. That’s the truth.”
Indeed, Netanyahu often appeared to be seeking to strengthen his relationship with the United States. During one of his visits to the United States during the US campaign season, Netanyahu made an effort to meet with President Obama. The president rejected that request, saying that he could not fit the Israeli prime minister into his schedule – though many of the president’s critics noted that he made time to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Nevertheless, Berger accuses Netanyahu of meddling in the US elections and says that Obama ought to meddle in Israeli affairs. He should do this, says Berger, “Not for the petty motive of settling scores with Netanyahu,” but instead, “to safeguard the true long-term interests of Israelis, Americans, and all the peoples of the Middle East.”
Berger voices concern about the power that the right is gaining in Israeli politics and says that he believes Obama might be able to shift a few seats in the Knesset to the left if he visits the Knesset and makes a speech in favor of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Yet an October poll published by The Jerusalem Post suggests that such a speech by Obama might do Peres more harm than good. Only 18% of Israelis believe the American president is more supportive of Israel than the Palestinians, while 28% believe the reverse is true. Meanwhile, just before the US elections, 52.7 percent of Israelis polled in an Israel Democracy Institute/Tel Aviv University Peace Index poll said they favored Romney over Obama, while less than 22% said they favored Obama.
Obama’s popularity in Israel, then, might not be strong enough to shift opinion toward Peres.
Filed Under: Politics
About the Author: Miranda has a B.A. in political science and has worked over a decade as a news reporter, financial news writer and political blogger. More about Miranda