Wednesday, February 11, 2009


European press recognizes Obama’s dilemma after the Israeli election

by Larry Geller

The mainstream press in this country is monolithic in its support for Israel—Israel right or wrong. There’s better discussion if you jump over the pond to Europe. For example, this snippet from The Guardian on the problems that the election outcome in Israel may present to Obama:

Inside the Obama administration there are officials who in private say how appalled they were by Israel's actions in Gaza, both in terms of the death toll and the impact on the Middle East. Open discussion about the alliance with Israel is difficult in the US. US officials, analysts and academics who question whether the national interest might be better served by loosening links quickly find themselves in the middle of huge squabbles and accusations of antisemitism.

Despite this, there are some who are prepared to voice such views in public. Glenn Greenwald, an author and political commentator who has questioned the US-Israel alliance, said yesterday: "There's no question that the blind, uncritical support the US has lent Israeli actions has harmed America's standing in the world generally, and in the Muslim world particularly ... For little benefit and much harm to ourselves, we have made Israel's numerous enemies, conflicts and wars our own."

The Obama administration will continue to back Israel, not least because the president wants to be re-elected in 2012 and does not want to alienate Democratic Jewish voters. [The Guardian (London), Obama officials despair as poll outcome puts focus on US-Israeli links,2/12/2009]

The article is worth reading in its entirety.

Through the miracle of Google, we can even check out mid-East opinion. This bold commentary (snippet) from the Saudi Gazette is unlikely to appear in any mainstream US paper, and again, I recommend reading the entire article:

The US-Israeli relationship has never simply been one between a superpower patron and a client state. The relationship is a feature of US domestic politics rather than of foreign policy. More often than not, the tail has wagged the dog. In defence of what it saw as its vital interests, Israel has never hesitated to manipulate, coerce, spy on and even threaten its patron. In a celebrated case, dating back to 1967, Israel even went so far as to attack and cripple the USS Liberty, an American electronic surveillance ship, when it thought that US monitoring might set a limit to its conquests.

Obama’s near impossible task will be to tame Israel’s homicidal instincts, while rescuing the Palestinians from their suicidal instincts. With help from the Arab states and the EU, he must induce them to end the crippling feuds which have put their national cause in danger. [Saudi Gazette, Israel will be in no mood for reason,2/12/2009]

If you’d like to try something fancy, Google can put you in faraway places to observe their points of view, or at least what they see in their daily news. In the pulldown box at you could select France, for example. Then put in some search term, if you wish, such as Obama Israel.

Of course, the stories will come up in French. If you read French, that’s fine. If not, try what I do: I copy the URL of the search from the address box, then go to and paste it in. Maybe there’s an easier way, but that’s what I do, anyway. Some browsers may have an add-in that simplifies this.

The translation is not bad. It’s not perfect, but Google has said that their objective is to create understanding, and it usually does that quite well.

If this is intimidating, just select UK in the pulldown box and it will all be in English without the need for any fancy tricks. Imagine that you’re in a tea shop in London reading one of the papers from the nearby rack.

So where our newspapers let us down, we can still benefit from the foreign press, which seems not to be as intimidated by the Israel lobby. And you can be the first on your block to find out what the Saudis are thinking, how about that. Google comes through for inquiring minds.


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