US President Barack Obama.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I have been a strident critic of President Obama’s policy toward Iran, especially how he and his team have been negotiating with that belligerent regime over its nuclear weapons program. But opposition to one aspect of the Obama policies should not be mistaken for opposition to President Obama himself or to the many achievements of his administration, particularly in the domestic area.
Having just listened to his speech at a conservative Jewish congregation in Washington, I was reminded why I supported him both times he ran for president, as well as when he ran for the US Senate. Barak Obama is a good and decent person, who admires the Jewish people and supports Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish People as well as its right to defend itself against attacks, both domestic and foreign. He disagrees with the Netanyahu administration on several issues.
On some of these issues, such as settlement building, I tend to agree with Obama. On other issues, such as the Iran negotiations, I tend to agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
On a personal level, I do not think that President Obama has handled his relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu in a mature and productive fashion.
Having been provoked by Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to have Netanyahu speak to Congress, President Obama acted in a petulant manner that exacerbated the differences between them. I also disapprove of how President Obama handled Netanyahu’s statements regarding the two-state solution. Recall that on the evening of Netanyahu’s reelection in March, he made a statement suggesting that the time was not ripe for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Immediately following his election, Netanyahu reasserted his commitment to the two-state solution. Instead of reacting in a statesmanlike way by focusing on Netanyahu’s positive restatement, Obama reemphasized his opposition to Netanyahu’s previous negative statements. This was poor politics, poor statesmanship and poor psychology.
Regarding the deal with Iran, President Obama had said that between accepting the deal and rejecting it, the only realistic option is to accept it. He may be right, but he was wrong to get us into the position where the only options may be bad and worse.
I will continue to be critical of Obama and his administration where I believe criticism is warranted, but I will continue to express approval and admiration for the president when he acts in a positive fashion.
President Obama’s speech to the Jewish congregation in Washington was excellent. He talked about shared values between the US and Israel and between him and the Jewish community. His policies with regard to healthcare and many other domestic issues are consistent with those of a majority of American Jews. We should neither demonize nor lionize our president. We should criticize him where criticism is warranted, praise him where praise is justified and encourage him to be supportive of Israel. There is too much extremism at play when it comes to President Obama. People who hate him, hate him too much and without justification.
Some people who love him, love him too much and without nuanced criticism.
So let’s continue to watch carefully how this administration deals with foreign policy issues, especially with regard to Israel and Iran, and let’s be constructive and nuanced in both our criticism and our support.
In his speech to the congregation, President Obama invited “scrutiny” of his foreign policy actions, particularly with regard to Iran. We should accept his invitation and offer good faith and constructive criticism.
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