Usually friends ask friends for advice, on everything from a new pair of jeans to the choice of a prospective husband.
And while the whole world knows that Israel and the U.S. have been best buddies since the start (1948 to be specific), Israel rarely did any 'soul searching' with its ally.
There were no questions like: 'do my settlements make my country look fat?' or 'have you told anyone else about my nuclear program?' or 'Do you think I'm being too mean to my foes, the Palestinians.'
Somehow, the "friendship" was based on vested interests, rather than genuine respect for the differences in each other's opinions.
And because Israel rarely asks hard questions of its American friend, its American friend -conveniently- never had to answer to hard questions to begin with. Not much has changed, except that this time, Obama is giving his advice, without any precursors from the Israelis.
He told NPR News, that he is going to be "honest" with Israel, because that is what friends do. It's about time the U.S. showed Israel some tough love, even if that means Israel decides it wants out of the dysfunctional friendship.
Update (June 3, 2009): So I was watching a report on Al Jazeera last night with my parents, on Obama planning to be "tough" with the Israeli administration, especially on the issue of settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territories, and then my mom snickered: "ha, he obviously doesn't know how the game works".
She may be right. A lot of American leaders start their careers promising to be different than their predecessors on such "controversial" issues as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but slowly drown in the realities that follow, the the subsequent low popularity ratings that ensue. Because expressing tough love to your dear friends, will only be reciprocated by a backlash from your friend's ultra conservative backers.
Time will only tell, I guess, if Obama can put up with the headache of AIPAC and the like.
Al Salaam Mosque
4 weeks ago