Israel's leftists are lonely these days. This was the central thrust of an opinion column in Tuesday's New York Times authored by Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of the left-wing Haaretz newspaper.
Benn's article, "Why Won't Obama Talk to Israel?" was a plaintive call for US President Barack Obama to woo the Israeli public. As Benn put it, "Next time you're in the neighborhood, Mr. President, speak to us directly."
Benn's article has been touted by Obama supporters and detractors alike as evidence that the president has a credibility problem with Israelis. Jewish Obama supporters sought to soften the impact of Benn's article on their fellow Jewish leftists by claiming that Obama is listening to the likes of Benn. For instance, the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reported without irony that administration officials defend Obama's silence toward Israel by arguing that his June 4 speech to the Muslim world in Cairo was also geared toward Israelis.
The June 4 address of course was the one where Obama compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry and to black slavery in the antebellum American South. It was also the speech where he embraced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust and not to the Jewish people's legitimate right to self-determination in our homeland.
Benn's piece is an interesting read, but not for the reasons that have been widely cited. It is interesting for what it says about the Israeli Left on the one hand, and what it says about Obama and his American Jewish supporters on the other.
Although Benn gives a long bill of particulars on why Israelis mistrust Obama, the general thrust of the article is supportive of the administration. Far from an attack on Obama, it is a cry for help. Benn and his fellow Israeli leftists want the administration to help them by changing the tenor of its policies, not the policies themselves.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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