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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama and Israel By Ian Williams

Israel is far from being simply a U.S. satellite and base. In many ways, the United States orbits Israel. For domestic political reasons, the U.S. government in effect uncritically guarantees almost any act of any Israeli government. There are, of course, some limits, though not many. For example, it's clear that Israel either couldn't or wouldn't mount an attack on Iran without U.S. approval, which was likely withheld more because of its potential effect on U.S. forces in the region than any principled objection to the idea.

This U.S.-Israeli relationship gives President-elect Obama, despite his distressing silence on the Gaza conflict, a unique window of opportunity. Domestically, he garnered the votes of almost 80% of American Jews, despite a furious campaign from Republican and Likudnik die-hard organizations questioning his attachment to the Zionist project and Israel's defense.

Even after his kowtowing to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) during the primaries, Obama won even more support from American Muslims than he did from Jews.

Obama shouldn't listen to conservative Jewish organizations, who outshout the silent majority of American Jews who abide by their traditional liberal and humanitarian instincts. The overwhelming majority of American Jews voted for Obama, and the emergence of voices like J Street offers an opportunity for a new president who owes the "Israel Lobby" nothing.


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