More about The Israel Factor

What is the Israel Factor all about? How does it work? Does it play in integral role in American-Israeli politics? Read about all this and more.

By SHMUEL ROSNER
November 5, 2010 12:49
3 minute read.

 
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"The Israel Factor" is a project on Rosner's Domain that gives an Israeli outlook on American policy and politics, and rank the players of the American political battlefield from an Israeli viewpoint.

Between 2010 and until the Presidential election of 2012, the Factor will rank all presidential contenders according to views they express and news they make that have impact on Israel.

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Each month, a group of distinguished Israeli panelists, all of them experts on American policy and politics (go to the panel page to see who they are), will try to assess the candidates' positions on various Israel-related issues, and deliver their verdict on whom they consider to be the best candidate for Israel.

Why are we doing this? The reason is quite obvious: As the US is the sole world superpower, the influence wielded by the American president impacts way beyond the borders of the US. As a major recipient of US aid and political support, Israel is one country for whom the positions and policies of the American president are crucial.

Like the rest of the world, Israelis closely follow the race for the presidency, acutely aware that the person who inhabits the White House will influence their future more that any other world leader - perhaps, even more than their own leaders.

From now, until the elections in November 2012, our panelists will answer a set of five questions each month regarding the candidates. Four of the questions will deal with topics of relevance in the period leading up to the survey, while the last question will ask them to give a more general assessment of the candidate's attitude toward Israel.

We are starting with a large group of potential candidates, and will eliminate those who drop out of the race as we go along. As the race progresses, we will be asking you, the readers, to also express your opinions - both on the candidates and on our ranking of the candidates.

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By now, you are clearly asking yourselves the crucial question: how does one define "friendly toward Israel." For some, Barack Obama's intense involvement in efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement was evidence of his "friendliness" towards Israel. For others, it was evidence of an over-meddling president trying to ram a dangerous agreement down the throats of Israelis.

What about Jewish settlements? Is a president who opposes settlement in the West Bank a friend or foe of Israel? Is a president who opposes dialogue between Jerusalem and Damascus serving Israel's best interests? What about a president who promotes democratization in the Middle East? Or a president who supports military action against Iran? Or, for that matter, one who opposes military action against Iran, preferring the diplomatic option? And what of a president who supports a future unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank?

To get as balanced a picture as possible, our panel includes experts from the left and the right in Israel, for whom the question "What constitutes an Israel-friendly president?" produces often strikingly different answers. The panel includes both academics and former high-ranking government officials. We have collected background information on each panelist concerning their beliefs and political positions.

By building the panel in this way, we will be able to give you a more nuanced and sophisticated assessment of the candidates' attitudes toward Israel. Once in a while, we will ask one of the panelists to answer specific questions - posed by us and by you - by inviting them to appear on "Rosner's Guest" for a week.

The eight panelists are:

*  Alon Pinkas
*  Dan Halperin
*  Dore Gold
*  Eitan Gilboa
*  Eyal Naveh
*  Fred Lazin
*  Tzvi Rafiah
*  Yossi Shain

The one thing that will remain confidential is how each panelist voted on each specific question.

Apart from the monthly ranking, I will write a weekly analysis in which I will try to assess the possible factors and events that could influence the next panel vote.

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