Obama: A president of the Hebrew persuasion
That is, a president who's finally trying to persuade Hebrews.
George Mitchell, chatting last April at Leeds Met in the U.K. about brokering peace deals.
With just a few big steps, Barack Obama has erased George W. Bush's plodding steps in the Middle East sands.
After eight years of an administration that slavishly followed a pro-Israel bias, thanks mostly to the presence of dual-disloyalists like Doug Feith, Obama has jumped in with both feet — and right in the middle.
Whether Obama will leave a lasting impression won't be known for a while, of course, but the hawkish U.S. Jewish establishment has taken notice.
For a change, it seems, a U.S. president didn't consult the powerful Jewish establishment lobby before trying to change tack.
Not that Hillary Clinton and Dennis Ross are anti-Israel — far from it. (Ross, in fact, is somewhat of a hardline pro-Israel Jew.) Obama isn't intent on pissing off the right-wing Jewish establishment's leaders, but it has to shake them that the new president threw the Arab world an olive branch with his al-Arabiya interview and with his choice as envoy of George Mitchell, who's not known for any particular pro-Israel bias.
These are not moves that were first vetted by the hawkish U.S. Jewish establishment.
You have to go beyond the mainstream U.S. press to try to gauge what's happening in the Middle East. A good source is the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which is sort of the Associated Press for Jews.
In "Mitchell's questions may matter more than his past answers," the JTA's Ron Kampeas notes that Mitchell issued a 2001 report on the Arab-Israeli death dance.
Mitchell is one of many who have already tried and failed to broker a peace. But it wasn't for lack of effort. Haaretz recalls:
OK, zero for two. But now he has the support of a president who — it seems — intends to do something. So the JTA's Kampeas writes:
The truth so far is that no one knows for sure where the U.S. administration stands. To actually have an administration that is leaving both sides guessing is a big step. And it's smart strategy to keep both sides from either counting on or counting against U.S. support. That's called diplomacy.
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