Dershowitz: Obama Has Undeserved 'Bad Rap' on Israel
President Barack Obama has gotten a bad rap – and it's undeserved, says American attorney and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz. Known for his libertarian views and his opposition to Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria, but still a strong supporter of Israel, Dershowitz said in a radio interview this weekend that Obama was a supporter of Israel – more so than some other presidents – and that groups like J Street, which is sharply critical of nearly everything Israel does, are far to the left of Obama.
“Just this week, Obama said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is right to demand that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people,” Dershowitz told radio host Zev Brenner on his weekly call-in radio talk show in the New York area. “I know Obama's views on Israel. I don't agree with all of them, but he is definitely not anti-Israel.”
Earlier in his administration, Obama snubbed Netanyahu, and Dershowitz says that Obama realized he had gotten off on the wrong foot with the Prime Minister. “Obama agrees that early on he made some terrible mistakes in relation to Israel,” Dershowitz said, even though he had never made any declarations against Israel. “Possibly the words were okay, but the tune was not – I think the Cairo speech could have been better,” Dershowitz said. “But I want to judge him on the totality of his performance.”
That totality includes Obama's actions on the issue of the most overriding concern to Israel, as Dershowitz sees it – the president's policy on Iran. “So far Obama has been much tougher on Iran than Bush. Bush was soft on Iran,” Dershowitz said. “ You can't get a better person in the White House than Dennis Ross, and Ross is the one he has chosen to lead policy on Iran.”
In fact, Obama is the victim of a demonization campaign when it comes to his alleged views on Israel. While many in the Jewish community are concerned over Obama's ties to anti-Semites and far-left figures such as Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi, and Bill Ayres, Dershowitz believes the impact of these figures on Obama has been minimal. “I know who Obama's mentors are,” Dershowitz said. “The include Charles Ogletree, an African American Zionist who has been to Israel on many occasions, and the current dean of Harvard Law Sachool, Martha Minow, a very prominent Jewish woman whose daughter just graduated a Jewish high school. He has mentors from every group,” Dershowitz adds. “It just demonizes when you present only one side of the story; it's not fair and not right.”
Dershowitz adds that he has no problem with Obama's apparent adoption of the Middle East as his “pet project.” The noted attorney said that he agrees with Obama's views on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, and, like Obama, urges Israel to finalize borders with the PA so it will be clear what areas belong to Israel. “Once they agree on borders, the settlement issue will fall into place. When it comes to peace making I trust Binyamin Netanyahu. He is not going to compromise Israel's security needs.”
“I'm not here to push for Obama,” Dershowitz said in the interview. “I just think it is important not to demonize him. He is the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world. There is no reason to make an enemy of him, and there is every reason to try to get him to increase his support for Israel, to keep the pressure on him. It is important that the pro-Israel community ensure that Israel not become a wedge issue – Republican vs Democrat, right vs left, religious vs. non-religious. We shpuld try and get the widest range of support for israel from every group – Jewish, Christian, righ, left, and even from Muslim moderates.”