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Sat Jan 7, 2012, 01:17 AM

Israel should remember: Obama is down, not out

Israel is dependent on the U.S. in every sphere. There is reason to fear that the present government will think that in a year when Obama is a lame duck, it can do as it pleases.

By Yoel Marcus


While we are toying with the notion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will bring forward the elections here in order to gain a decisive majority, we are simultaneously entering the real thing: the U.S. elections. This is not only the matter of President Barack Obama's potential second term, it's also election year for the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. Although we don't vote in America, we are keeping very close tabs on the elections' progress.

Officially and unofficially, we don't usually stick our noses in, one way or the other. But Bibi's associates have been heard voicing opposition to Barack Obama, claiming he is naive, doesn't understand, makes mistakes and, chiefly, is not really on our side. It seems that Bibi, who knows how to bring the members of Congress to their feet with hysterical applause in a single speech, aspires to be the mentor of the U.S. president. It's a shame his friend, billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, hasn't taught him that gambling is a dangerous business. And gambling on the possibility of a Republican president is a serious mistake.

Primarily, it contradicts Israel's policy of nonintervention in U.S. elections. In her time, Prime Minister Golda Meir scolded Yitzhak Rabin (Israel's ambassador to the U.S. at the time ) for his support of Richard Nixon. Ezer Weizman, meanwhile, flew in President Jimmy Carter's election plane in order to help him (unsuccessfully ) claim a second term in the White House, and had problems with the Democratic party.

Despite what the Arabs think, the United States is not in our pocket, and we don't intervene over the issue of who will or won't be elected in America. What is important is that Israel informs the presidential candidates of its policy. Our major failure was that we ignored Obama and didn't inform him of our problems. Instead, the first to influence his behavior toward Israel was his Jewish assistant, Rahm Emanuel. Because of him the president skipped Israel and began his peace campaign in, of all places, Cairo. And in doing so, he also gave Bibi an excuse to find an enemy in the White House.

The relationship with Obama is conducted on two parallel tracks that don't intersect. On one track, the security issue, an exceptional relationship has been formed with a commitment to Israel, including maintaining its qualitative military advantage. That's why we didn't hear any Israeli protest this time against equipping Saudi Arabia with advanced fighter planes.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-should-remember-obama-is-down-not-out-1.405748

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