To hear the relentless bashing of President Obama’s record on Israel, then read Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer’s almost glowing support of it (“What is Obama’s record on Israel?” Jan. 6), one has to wonder if we are talking about the same president. I suspect the reality lies somewhere in between.
From all I’ve heard and read, the security cooperation and U.S support of Israel’s defense under the Obama administration is superb. Likewise, I agree with Rabbi Engelmayer’s assessment of incidents such as the off-the-record conversation between Obama and France’s President, Nicholas Sarkozy, which was essentially much ado about nothing. Sarkozy was the only one in need of explaining. That said, there was no mention in the article of an issue that for me, and I suspect many others, was of major concern and likely set the tone for the negativity. Perhaps it will also serve as a response to last week’s letter writer who was looking for concrete examples.
Early in his term, in his desire to jumpstart the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Obama put enormous pressure on Israel to freeze building projects meant to address natural growth within the settlements, which soon morphed into demands to cease construction in Jerusalem as well. No such pressure was put on the other side. The Palestinians pounced on this apparent show of support, became more intransigent than ever, and thus began a very ugly and damaging chain of events culminating in the Palestinian demand for statehood at the U.N. In other words, by his early actions, everything Obama did afterwards was viewed as suspect by many, whether justified or not. He has no one but himself to blame for that.