Obama in Oslo, and Israel

Posted on December 10, 2009 In Blog

Politico’s Ben Smith has graciously noted the following from us:

President Barack Obama delivered a very interesting speech today in Oslo as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

As the President discussed how the means of war are necessary to secure a just peace, he made the following reference to the Israeli-Arab conflict:

“And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.”

This is a striking characterization of the conflict, especially in light of new polling out from the leftish New America Foundation – J Street crew.

(Although Shmuel Rosner has laid out why the polls conducted by these folks are questionable, for purposes of this moment, we will accept it on its terms.)

The poll finds that 43% of Israelis find President Obama to be “naive.” But in describing the Israeli-Arab conflict in these more “elemental” terms, President Obama has, perhaps for the first time, not sounded naive in the classic American way of – “can’t we just split the difference and all get along….”

It will be interesting to see the President continues in this direction, addressing the conflict in these more “elemental” and realistic, some would say “darker,” terms in the coming months.