Sunday, March 4, 2012

Obama at AIPAC

“Promise her anything but give her Arpege.” –Perfume advertising slogan

By Barry Rubin

It is good to have the president of the United States on your side, especially if he may be reelected to another four year term, meaning he will govern America for the next five years.  And so ultimately here’s the bottom line: How do we know President Barack Obama supports Israel?

Answer: He says so.

This is the key point about Obama’s well-received speech to AIPAC. And that’s why the speechwriters, several of whom are no doubt Jewish, wrote it that way.

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Jews are a very misunderstood people in part because both enemies and friends think them self-consciously powerful. Antisemites and anti-Israel activists, two groups with a lot of overlap, think pro-Israel Jews run the U.S. government and media.

But Jews look back at a long history of powerlessness, victimhood, and mass murder. They know that much of the Middle East bays for their blood, that a lot of the mass media won’t give Israel a fair break, and that on many campuses Jewish students are feeling intimidated and pro-Israel activities are besieged.

And so the great majority of American Jews are profoundly grateful that an American president—even if they gave him 79 percent of their votes—will, verbally at least, stand by them.

What happens after he wins reelection and no longer needs their votes? Well, we can hope for the best, right?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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