By Dan Fleshler | April 17, 2009
The well-connected and astute James Besser is hearing from American Jewish learders who are concerned that Obama will ignore conventional political wisdom and not worry (too much) about battling “the pro-Israel establishment.” He tells us:
Last month Obama said “the status quo is unsustainable,” and he sounded like he meant it. For many pro-Israel leaders the status quo is just fine because it means there is no need to confront politically explosive issues such as Jerusalem – issues that divide the American Jewish community as well as the Israeli public…
[There is] a growing sense among many Jewish leaders that this administration may really mean what it says about a two-state solution – unlike the Bush administration, which said it was a priority but never acted like it was.
A lot of that angst comes from a growing sense this administration seems unusually willing to take chances and buck Washington’s conventional wisdom – on Cuba, on Iran, on a broad domestic agenda…. …More and more, this is looking like an administration determined to take full and quick advantage of President Obama’s unusually strong popularity, and it’s not unreasonable to think that extends to the Middle East conflict.
There’s another factor: this administration, more than any previous one, is listening to voices in the Jewish community that say the major pro-Israel groups, which can be expected to do battle against anything perceived as pressure on the Israeli government, are not representative of the broader Jewish community, which, some polls show, favors stronger U.S. action in the region and may not be averse to pressure on the Jerusalem government to achieve a settlement.
Does this mean the administration is set on a policy and is ready to move forward aggressively? I don’t think so, not yet.
But it means it is looking at a wider range of possibilities than most analysts predicted, and that it may be much more willing to defy some longstanding political assumptions and take risks to accomplish its goals.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be an interesting ride.