“Beware! A PLO Agent in the White House”
Here is one of many anti-Obama posters that began springing up in Jerusalem over the last couple of weeks. You don’t even have to understand the Hebrew text to get the message – Obama bowing in submission to the Arab world.
Launched by one of Israel’s many far-right political parties this particular campaign attempted to latch on to the growing antagonism between the Israel and the Obama administration. This thankfully is not the view of the majority of Israelis – this specific poster, around the corner from our apartment, only lasted a few days before being partially ripped off.
This is not to say however that Israelis view Obama as particularly friendly towards Israel. Just 9 percent of Jewish Israelis think US President Barack Obama’s administration is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian, whilst 48% of Jewish Israelis think he is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel. In contrast when George W Bush was in power 88% of Jewish Israelis viewed the US President as more pro-Israeli than pro-Palestinian.
It’s been slightly surreal seeing the sudden change of tone from the US. Of course whether it leads to any real change in action is another matter. When Joe Biden was in town a few weeks back he managed to bring much Jerusalem to complete standstill as he and his motorcade shuttled back and forth between Jerusalem and in nearby Palestinian capital Ramallah. Since then the peace process has been at a standstill as accusations and excuses flew back and forth over the Atlantic between Jerusalem and the Washington.
And reading my English-language Israeli newspaper (The Haaretz), it’s been fascinating following the relentless ire and dissatisfaction leveled at Benjamin Netanyahu and his unsteady coalition government – made up of ultra-nationalistic and religious parties. Unless Obama backs down from his demands it seems like this is a coalition doomed to disintegrate in the face of the tough (but justified) US demands. One can only hope…