The Inauguration and Israel
The presidential inauguration of Barack Obama was watched and attended by a record number of Americans. Media coverage of the event in Israel was extensive too. Many Israelis and Jews around the world wonder how this new president will affect Israel.
Support for Israel in the American government has been a given since the establishment of the State of Israel and its immediate recognition by Harry Truman. American presidents believe it is in the best interest of Israel to come to a peace agreement with the Arabs in order to end the Middle East conflict. As a result they advocate compromise and negotiations even while recognizing that the Arabs are not the most reliable peace partners. In pre-election speeches, Obama has pretty much advocated the same thing. He hopes to move towards a two-state solution, just as Bush, Clinton and Bush wanted to. The reasons they didn’t succeed may be the reasons he won’t succeed. Unless, of course, his rhetoric of change is not just empty words.
Israeli elections are coming up in about a month and despite all the talk on how Obama will influence Israel, these are the elections which really matter. The successes of the Gaza war may keep the old guard in power – Livni or Barak. Or Israelis may blame the Olmert administration for creating the reality which led to the war and elect Netanyahu. The next prime minister of Israel will tell Barack Obama what the Israeli people want and he will try to give it to them.
Obama will focus on resuscitating the American economy and combating the nuclear threat in Iran. Israel will continue to fight its daily war against Arab terrorism.