Is the Obama Administration Pro-Israel Enough?

We’re seeing a policy that distances the United States from Israel in order to reach out to the Arab Muslim world.
  • Transcript


Question: Are Obama and Biden true friends of Israel?

Abraham Foxman:  I think they are friends, I think what’s troubling to the American Jewish community, troubling to me, is I think there’s been a change of strategy, and I think that comes as a result of the fact that the United States today is facing a major challenge in the world.  It’s not Russia, it’s not China, it’s not Chavez; it’s the Arab Muslim world.  We’re at war; America is at war with two Muslim countries, we may be at war with a third.  Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims.  It’s a major challenge for the U.S.  And I think what we’re seeing in this administration is an effort to deal with it, and I think part of that effort is this notion of linkage; that if only you could solve the Arab/Israel conflict, the Messiah will come in the Middle East.  And it’s that notion, that analysis that is motivating American policy.  And so, yeah, I think friends, but when I think the President went to the Middle East, Istanbul, Cairo, Riyadh, three times... he was in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, didn’t visit Jerusalem, sent the wrong message.  Sent the message that we’re reaching out to the Arab Muslim world at the expense of our friendship or relationship with Israel.  I think focusing on settlements without focusing on Palestinian incitement and stuff, was another mistake.  So I think what we’re seeing is a policy which sees itself distancing the United States from Israel in order to reach out in some manner to the Arab Muslim world.  I don’t think it’s worked, and so many in the Jewish community have been concerned that this nuanced, or non-nuanced change is I believe, as I indicated earlier, is hurting prospects of peace because if Israel does not feel that its only ally continues to be its friend, then it will not risk, it will not compromise to the extent that it has.  And if you take a look at it during the Bush Administration, whether you like Bush or not, the first president to come out for a Palestinian state was Bush.  Why?  Because Israel trusted him, and Sharon trusted him to the point that when President Bush announced that the Americans for Palestinian state, Prime Minister Sharon left his political party because they were opposed.  Disengagement from Gaza happened under Bush.  The Annapolis talks... so when it’s closer... now we have no talks.  The Palestinians and Israelis are talking through proximity, which is they’re 15 kilometers away, nine miles away, and they’ve got to talk through the United States.

Recorded on June 11, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman