Reputation Matters – Obama and Israel: Betrayal in the Broken Places

What a great week at the Watcher of Weasels. The Watcher’s Council read every single article that was submitted and came up with two great winners.

The winning council submission was penned by the Bookworm. BW took her family on a trip to the USS Hornet, a WWII Essex class aircraft carrier that is now a museum. The event was a fund-raising reception in honor of the Blue Angels.

Of the many observations that Bookworm had was the following:

Third, and this is something I tried to emphasize for the kids on the way home, the make-up of the Blue Angels shows that reputation matters. Three different people told me that, when personnel apply to become a part of the Blue Angels, it’s their personality that is the determining factor. Regardless of their responsibilities (flying, medicine, PR, supplies, etc.), all are tops in their field before they even knock on the Blues’ door. The question for admittance, therefore, isn’t the applicant’s abilities, which are proven, but his or her personality. Since the Blues travel together 300 days a year, they have to like and respect each other. Someone who is known to be unpleasant, lazy, selfish, or who has any other personality trait that precludes being liked, respected and relied-upon in a tight unit, has no chance of joining the team. To be a Blue, it’s not enough to be good at what you do. You also have to be just plain good — a mensch, a good person, a stand-up kind of guy (or gal).

Yes, reputation does matter! Which leads us to another non-Council entry pointing to Barack Obama’s anti-Israel proclivites and the reputation he is garnering as a failure on the world’s foreign policy stage.

Benjamin Kerstein at the New Ledger talks about Barack Obama’s reputation among critics leading up to his election and how he lived up to that reputation since taking office.

For a politician, there is no more dangerous combination of traits than hubris and ineptitude. In a friendly environment, the detrimental effects of these flaws can be staved off, for a time, by talented spin doctors, a sympathetic press, or the enthusiasm of one’s followers. In the maelstrom of Middle East politics, however, they tend to be almost immediately apparent, and the resulting fall from grace is often precipitous. President Barack Obama, who appears to possess both traits in unique abundance, has had to find this out the hard way; and whether he has learned his lesson or not remains to be seen.

In Israel, however, conclusions have already been drawn, and the results are not particularly pretty for Obama. Put simply, he is the least popular American president in recent memory. The percentage of Israelis who consider him friendly to Israel has never been high, but it has dropped at various times into the single digits. Considering that the Israeli left polled 16% of the vote in the last elections, and the centrist Kadima party another 22% – higher, in fact, than Netanyahu’s Likud – Obama’s dismal numbers cannot be put down to simple partisanship. Israelis across the political spectrum are clearly convinced that Obama is indifferent and/or hostile to Israeli interests, sensibilities, and concerns.

It is worth pointing out that Israel was a problem for Obama almost from the beginning. During the 2008 campaign, much was made in Jewish circles of his political roots on the radical left; his friendships with Rashid Khalidi, a vitriolic partisan of the Palestinian cause, and the demented preacher Jeremiah Wright; and his sometimes ambivalent statements on the subject. In February 2008, for example, Obama remarked, “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you’re anti-Israel,” which is practically identical to the rhetoric employed by Israel Lobby conspiracy theorists. His statements on Jerusalem also proved decidedly bizarre, both pledging that it would remain united and asserting that this was an issue to be settled in future negotiations. While everyone is at least vaguely aware of the fact that American presidential candidates always make promises regarding Jerusalem which they have no intention of ever keeping, the suspicion among many was that the candidate was trying to solidify his American Jewish support while signaling his true intentions to his progressive base. When Obama began his administration by demanding that Israel freeze all settlement construction, including in Jerusalem, while asking nothing of the Arabs besides a vague call for “normalization,” Obama’s Jewish detractors believed that their suspicions had been confirmed.

Reputation matters. Please read all the winning entries, pass them on to your friends and come back next week for our next contest!

Winning Council Submissions

Winning Non-Council Submissions

(T*) – Indicates a Tie.
(D*) – Denotes a 2/3 point penalty for failing to vote in this week’s contest.