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Chan Lowe: Obama's Israel stumble


The ongoing Middle East conflict is so sensitive, so nuanced and so tinder-dry that any alteration in what is said, what is not said, the timbre of the saying of it, and which parts are emphasized and de-emphasized can cause a conflagration to break out.

Added to these variables are the one that has been occupying the news of late: Who says it. George W. Bush, who was considered a “Friend of Israel,” could say that peace negotiations should use as their basis the pre-1967 borders with mutually-agreed swaps. No ripples in the waters of the status-quo. But Barack Obama says it, and suddenly it’s an international incident.

A colleague who has been to Israel several times, and who has her finger on that country’s political pulse, says that our president is not a popular figure in Israel. This is putting it mildly. She says the general feeling there is that Obama “is too busy trying to suck up to the Arabs.”

Since all matters regarding our relationship with Israel must be viewed through the prism of domestic politics (both for Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu), one has to assume that every presidential utterance on the topic has been pre-parsed, analyzed and vetted for its effect on various groups of ears before it emerges from Mr. Obama’s lips.

I put it to my colleague this way: “He’s thinking, of course, about the 2012 election. He’s talking tough in order to prove to the moderates he’s not in the tank for Israel. The evangelicals will never vote for him, anyway, so no loss there. The Jewish vote will always be Democratic. They have nowhere else to go.”

“That isn’t true anymore,” my friend said. “My father, who used to be a faithful Democrat, has started listening to Fox News. He’s getting brainwashed. You wouldn’t believe the stuff he spews at me now. I think he’s going to vote Republican the next time. And there are a lot more like him.”

Maybe those too-clever-by-half West Wing advisers ought to be listening to more people like my friend.

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Assuming you want to haggle you are gonna start high. The Statesman knows this and a great one has a plan AND a strategy. I suspect O'Bama has such a plan and with a 2012 mandate will present it to the Israeli Kenesset (sp)

President Obama has not done a single thing correctly with regards to foreign policy . He will go down in history as an even worse president than Jimmy Carter. Everyone have a great holiday weekend and don't forget to thank our service men and women present and past for their wonderful service to our country.

"with mutually-agreed swaps"...that's the key difference to what bush said compared to obama. MUTUALLY AGREED SWAPS...that means each side gives & each side receives

obama said nothing about swaps...he only said for israel to return to pre '67 borders

that's a HUGE difference chan...that's why bush didnt cause a ripple when he said it

Peace in the Middle East is key to world peace. For a hundredths of years the western dominance has told the Arabs what to do. We (USA) can guarantee--and we should-- Israel's all we want but only until the Israelis do not have to worry about their backs will there be peace in the region. So, even if indefensible, the 67 borders should be the the frame of reference for future peace-- Obama has the guts to say it! Only the Israelis and the Arabs can make it happen! Will they? I doubt it, the hate germs have simmered for a long, long time. Only until the youth of Israel and the youth of the Arab world cease the reigns of government can this dream have a chance of success. The old Sabras cannot bring themselves to do it nor can the defeated leaders of the Arab world in the several wars after Israel became a state.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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