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One Israeli’s View of Obama

June 4, 2009

For a variety of reasons, there is intense interest in the reaction of the Israeli government and people to Obama’s speech in Cairo. Their unique relationship with the US, regarded by Obama as “unbreakable”, and the pervasive struggle between Israel and its neighbors in the middle east invests Obama’s comments about Israel with special significance. David Grossman reacts to the speech, and to some of the criticism coming from other parts of the Jewish community. An excerpt:

What sort of leverage should Obama apply to Israel to exact the concessions he wants? Should he withhold loan guarantees until Israel cooperates?

I hope it shall be settled between friends. The pressure Obama applies should be put in a sensitive way because of Israeli anxieties and our feeling that we’re living on the edge of an abyss. The reactions of Israelis are very unpredictable. It will take simple and delicate pressure for the United States to produce the results they are looking for. But whenever American presidents even hinted they were going to pressure Israel, they got what they wanted. Netanyahu is very ideological, but he is also realistic and he is intelligent, after all. He will recognize the reality he is in.

Beyond that, I want Obama to know there are many here who share his vision. I want him to look behind the shoulders of our leaders and look at people like me, who are fed up with this situation that has exhausted us, that has enslaved us to extremism and fundamentalism. I want Obama to know that we are willing to take the risk to come to a realistic compromise and reclaim the life we have been deprived of for so long.

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