Israel aircraft bombed a target in Syria overnight Thursday, an Obama administration official said Friday night, as United States officials said they were considering military options, including carrying out their own airstrikes. Continue reading Israel bombs Syria→
First and most important, talking up the innate superiority of the Israelis over the Palestinians isn’t, by any definition, a gaffe. That’s real, with real geopolitical consequences. He didn’t misspeak (and I’m not sure one can “misspeak” about such things anyway), and his initial claim to have been misinterpreted has been trumped by his decision to reiterate all the same points to the conservative audience at National Review.
Second, it’s hard to imagine Romney’s gaffes, missteps, and flat-out egregious mistakes happening if he had a different, i.e., solid, foreign policy team advising him. (Ignore the silly, DC-centric focus on whether his press team mismanaged the ensuing uproar.) Romney has no core foreign policy team. It’s also a team without a core. No surprise since it serves mostly to check the box of various conservative foreign policy constituencies. David Rothkopf can and does explain this part of it a lot better than I. Go read him.
The easy flourish to conclude with here would be drawing a heavy black line from Mitt’s team not having a core to Mitt himself not having a core. Maybe that’s true. But Romney is not the first presidential nominee to wind up saddled with an advisory team that is designed for political reasons to reflect the various constituent parts of his party instead of designed to get the real, difficult work done in service of the nominee. So you don’t have to reach the ultimate conclusion about Mitt’s own core — unless and until he fails to fix his team.
The main themes of the address resonated well with Palestinian and Israeli officials, while a Jewish settlers’ group — upset that Obama spoke against settlement activity — found problems with the speech, and others, like a Hamas official, expressed mixed or negative views.
The government of Israel expressed “hope that this important speech in Cairo will indeed lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Muslim world and Israel.”
“We share President Obama’s hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East,” it said.
While Mr. Obama emphasized that America’s bond with Israel was “unbreakable,” he spoke in equally powerful terms of the Palestinian people, describing their plight as “intolerable” after 60 years of statelessness, and twice referring to “Palestine” in a way that put Palestinians on parallel footing with Israelis.
Mr. Obama’s speech in Cairo, which he called a “timeless city,” was perhaps the riskiest of his presidency, as he used unusually direct language to call for a fresh look at deep divisions, both those between Israel and its neighbors and between the Islamic world and the West. Among his messages was a call for Americans and Muslims to abandon their mutual suspicions and do more to confront violent extremism.
But it was Mr. Obama’s empathetic tone toward the Palestinians that attracted the most attention in the region and around the world. His words left many Palestinians and their Arab supporters jubilant but infuriated some Israelis and American backers of Israel because they saw the speech as elevating the Palestinians to equal status. (more…)