American-born bloggers vent anger at Obama online

Ex-patriates express their dismay, disillusion by ripping US pressure on Israel.

By ABE SELIG
June 3, 2009 23:17
3 minute read.
American-born bloggers vent anger at Obama online

computer 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

In describing the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel during what has become a widely-talked about interview with National Public Radio on Monday, US President Barack Obama said that, "there's no doubt that the US has a special relationship with Israel...There are a lot of Israelis who used to be American." And while that point is mostly true - some 200,000 US citizens currently reside in the Jewish state, but the vast majority of them retain their American citizenship - the definition of that "special relationship" is truly a matter of whom you ask, especially as renewed US pressure on the Israeli government to freeze settlement construction and dismantle West Bank outposts has begun to bear the trappings of a diplomatic crisis. Anger over these moves can be found within the circles of many former-statesiders, and most notably so, in the blogosphere, where are some venting their frustrations and anger over the current US demands of the Israeli government, along with their suspicions of Obama's increasingly adamant outreach to the Muslim world. Thursday's much-anticipated speech in Cairo runs a close second to Obama's settlement demands as far as blog rage goes, and a reported interview with a French outlet on Tuesday, in which the president said the United States could be considered "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," has also drawn the ire of the American blogger community in Israel. "Exactly what alternative reality does the president of the United States live in?" asked the blog "The Muqata" in response to Obama's assertion on French TV. "Perhaps it's time he learns how to Google on his Blackberry." The Muqata, which is sardonically named after the Palestinian Authority compound in Ramallah where former PLO leader Yasser Arafat is entombed, is also one of the leading American-Israeli blogs based in Israel. The anonymous author, who uses the nomme de blog "Jameel Rashid," is an American transplant to Israel, who expounds on all things Israel, with an emphasis on the West Bank and Jewish settlements there. During a round of outpost evictions last week, The Muqata carried a report chastising Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for "bowing to Obama's decree" and directed the US president to look to more pressing issues facing the international community. But the Muqata is not alone. "Carl in Jerusalem," who authors "Israel Matzav", is another American-born, Israel-based blogger who has been modest, but equally-outspoken in his dismay over the apparent new direction the Americans are taking. Regarding results from an Israel Television survey that showed 54 percent of Israelis believe they should refuse Obama's attempts for concessions to the Palestinians and refrain from making any until conditions of peace and security are reached, Carl wrote, "Hope and change. Israelis are apparently starting to get it." Other blogs chastise Obama for asking Israel to make concessions, hinting at his father's Islamic faith as reason for a Manchurian Candidate type of dread, or accusations of anti-Semitism, in that the US is preventing Jews from living in a certain area, while refusing to make that requirement of anyone else. "What we're seeing here is a weak prime minister simply bowing to pressure from the US," said one blogger who asked to remain unnamed. "And I think Americans, who moved to Israel with a lot of ideology and a lot of pride in this country, are extremely dismayed and upset, not only abut what's happening, but the pace at which it's taking place." On the left, prominent American ex-pat bloggers Gershom Gorenberg and Haim Watzman's "South Jerusalem" - self described as "the only place in the world where you can be a left-wing, skeptical Orthodox Zionist Jew and feel like you are part of a mass movement" - were conspicuously silent on the matter. While the latter blog has in the past directed its sights, albeit elegantly, at right-wing initiatives and the settler camp, the home page on Wednesday featured an article about archeology, followed by a scathing review of MK Zevulun Orlev's (Likud) proposed bill that would outlaw denial of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State - from last week.


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