What Is Obama’s Message to Israel?

Posted on August 3, 2009 In Blog

On July 28th, Aluf Benn, the editor at large of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times entitled “Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel?” In response to this piece, OU Director of Public Policy, Nathan Diament, wrote the following letter to the Editor published on July 31st:

To the Editor:

Re “Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel?” (Op-Ed, July 28):

Aluf Benn advises President Obama to “speak directly to Israelis” in order to garner greater support among them for the president’s call for a settlement freeze and to get the Israeli-Arab peace process moving. This prescription suggests that the president has a communications problem, when he in fact has a policy problem.

Mr. Obama publicly articulated his plans with regard to Israel throughout the presidential campaign, most notably during his visit to Israel a year ago. Polls, including one cited by Mr. Benn, show that Israelis have heard the president’s message and disagree with it.

If President Obama wishes to gain more support among Israelis, and their supporters in the United States, he must do more than make a speech. He must announce new or adjusted policies, including concrete measures that bolster Israel’s security, which will serve his goals of achieving peace and security for Israelis and Arabs.

Nathan J. Diament
Director of Public Policy
Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America