Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why does Israel continue to dismiss Obama's Mideast peace efforts?

Dr. Gabi Sheffer

The writer makes his case, not by pointing to observable proof, but by eliminating any other reasons which would explain why Obama is treated like a leper.

Most Israelis, including the heads of the defense establishment and politicians led by the prime minister and the foreign minister, categorically state that U.S. President Barack Obama will never solve the Israeli-Arab conflict. This lack of confidence in and sympathy for Obama have accompanied him, unjustifiably, since the day he began campaigning for the presidency - and has only intensified following his election. The disrespect toward him and his administration is unwarranted; there is no doubt that it is connected to Obama's ethnic background.

In view of the economic crisis that hit the United States and, in its wake, the rest of the world, the accepted wisdom is that the ability of the United States and its president to influence what happens beyond their borders has been diminished. However, that is not where things actually stand. As no other existing power holds such extensive strength and influence, Obama's ability to act in the world in general and the Middle East in particular has not been eliminated. Russia, China and the European Union have not surpassed the United States in terms of their capability.

The writer is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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