Gillerman: Obama’s ‘weak’ leadership harms Israel

Former ambassador to UN blasts US president at WIZO conference in Tel Aviv.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
January 19, 2012 03:55
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama [file]

US President Barack Obama 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque )

 
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US President Barack Obama’s weakness is detrimental to Israel and the region because it allows Israel’s foes to blame the Jewish state for the Middle East’s problems, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman told the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

“This is a weak president,” Gillerman said. “Because of his weakness, Israel has to keep apologizing for itself all the time. We shouldn’t have to be on the defensive.”

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He said he believed a stronger White House would be better for the region, which is currently engulfed in turmoil.

At the same time, he urged the Israeli government to take the initiative to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians rather than remain reactionary.

Channel 1 journalist Ayala Hasson moderated the panel, which also included Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, MK Einat Wilf (Independence Party) and Steve Linde, the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

Cotler said the challenge facing Israel and its supporters was combating all forms of deligitimization – under the cover of universal jurisdiction, human rights and charges of racism.

“The real issue is the critical mass of exposure to that deligitimization, especially under the protection of the United Nations,” he said. “Israel is often portrayed by our enemies as the two greatest evils – apartheid and Nazism.”



Wilf said anti-Semitism was often disguised as criticism of Israeli policy and represented “a strategic threat to Israel” as a member of the international community. She voiced her concern over how Israel is seen in the world and said much of the opprobrium it receives is unfair.

Attempts to segregate women in Israeli society, an issue which has been in the news of late following a series of clashes between the ultra- Orthodox community and women’s rights groups, came up during the discussion.

Hasson joked that the audience, which was predominantly female consisting of hundreds of WIZO delegates and a handful of men, was not segregated.

“If anything there seems to be segregation against men,” fired back Gillerman.

Linde said supporters of Israel abroad can help improve its image in the media by writing in letters and pressuring news organizations to report fairly and accurately.

“Every time Israel is falsely portrayed in the media, we should all fight with all our might to refute the reports,” he said. “But the media are not the core of the problem. They merely reflect what people are thinking.”


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