Obama is Reelected and Israelis Race to Congratulate Him

On Wednesday morning, Israelis awoke to the news that Barack Obama had been reelected in America.  It seemed obvious that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have preferred a victory for old friend Mitt Romney — although Netanyahu was clever enough never to say so publicly.

He became one of the first foreign leaders publicly to congratulate Obama on his win.

Making no reference to his friction with Obama during the past few years, Netanyahu wrote: “The strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever.  I will continue to work with President Obama in order to assure the interests that are vital to the security of the citizens of Israel.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak — who is again a somewhat bitter political rival of Netanyahu, as Barak is leading his own small party vying for parliamentary seats in the January 22 election — then chimed in with his own congratulations sent to the White House.

Barak, a former prime minister who is happy to have it known that he has had one-on-one meetings with Obama, wrote: “I have no doubt that Obama administration will continue its policy — whereby Israel’s security is at its very foundations — as well as its efforts to tackle the challenges facing all of us in the region; all the while continuing to strive for further progress in the peace process.”

Ehud Barak, when prime minister in 2000

Adopting the style of hoping that Obama will live up to the expectations that congratulations of this kind engender, Ehud Barak continued: “I believe that in the tradition of deep friendship and with a backdrop of shared experiences accrued with President Obama, it also will be possible to overcome any differences in stance; should they arise.”

Thus Barak did make reference to the friction.

In the normal course of events, Israeli foreign ministry researchers — and intelligence agency researchers, as well — must be putting the finishing touches on their reports to their bosses on what to expect in a second Obama administration.   In the Middle East, it is usually best to remember that the best laid plans of men and women go awry; and an American president finds himself coping with events that unfold — events beyond his control.

America often finds itself containing the damage, when unexpected challenges arise; rather than effectively applying whatever strategy optimists in Washington DC may have created.

November 7, 2012

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