The Conversation

Dershowitz was right about Obama--and so was I

In 2008, Alan Dershowitz and I debated in the Jerusalem Post whether Barack Obama would be good or bad for Israel. Dershowitz argued that Obama would be a pro-Israel president who would pull the rest of the left with him. I argued that Obama would likely confront Israel, and encourage the far-left to hate Israel even more.

In Obama's first term, I was right--and even Dershowitz was alarmed by Obama's move toward appeasement on Iran, for example. But in the second term, Dershowitz's prediction is turning out to be true. It must rankle the left that right after "Israel Apartheid Week," Obama is planting trees and admiring missiles in Israel.

What caused Obama to shift? Not electoral politics, since he never has to run again. Not the "Israel lobby," which has been in hiding. The answer, as I explore in a column today, is twofold: the steadfast leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the exemplary success of the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Netanyahu's stand forced Obama to face the fact that the Palestinians and the Iranian regime were the obstacles to peace, along with the instability of Israel's Arab neighbors. Meanwhile, Iron Dome gave Obama a golden bridge across which to retreat, claiming credit for its success while quietly reversing his former approach.

The Palestinians, as usual, missed the opportunity that Obama's early stand provided. They saw a president who was prepared to confront Israel, and held out for more. Unfortunately, they failed to understand that Obama does not really care about foreign policy except as leverage for his domestic agenda of transformation.


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