The truth is that Israel is not the (or even "a") defining issue in this election, and that is because the candidates more or less agree on the defense of the Jewish state. Neither Obama nor McCain (Hillary's views are insignificant now) propose that Israel negotiate with Hamas, and that is because they both grasp the real intentions and aims of this band of terrorists. Now, I happen to know quite a lot of hawkish Israelis who wouldn't be averse to testing what Israel might get from Hamas in discussions, at least temporarily. One of these is Efraim Halevi, the former head of the Mossad, a hard-headed realist, and he has written this in TNR. But that's neither here nor there.
First, the Hillary folk tried to spread panic that Obama was derelict on Israel, and derelict, at best. Now the McCain folk are trying to do the same, with slightly more desperation. As I pointed out the other day, there are calculated reasons for this: the Gallup poll pointed out that Obama would win over McCain hands down, that is, by two to one, if the election were held now. But give McCain credit: he has been a very comprehending strategic and moral voice force for Israel.
And so has Obama. Already in Mother Jones, Justin Elliot wrote despairingly in February that Obama, despite his acquaintanceship with Edward Said, couldn't be trusted on matters affecting Israel. (I myself have acquaintances, even friends whom I wouldn't trust with the future of Israel for a split second.) Well, he certainly cannot be trusted on the mad line the American left has been pushing which really means this: Israel should do whatever it takes to satisfy the Palestinians.
Which is nonsense. I believe that most Palestinians want the destruction or disintegration of Israel, and that is certainly the palpable goal of Hamas. For the moment, it can only lodge rockets and missiles from Gaza. Surrender enough territory in the West Bank, and Tel Aviv and the Ben Gurion Airport will be in range. In any case, Haifa will once again be in range of Hezbollah since the stupid cease-fire negotiated by Condi Rice two years ago at the Security Council.
Do you remember Michael Lerner, Hillary's tutor in "the politics of meaning" and the shepherd of the Tikkun "community" (most notable gentile acolyte: Cornell West, thank God for his umbrage at Larry Summers)? Poor Michael. He believes that Obama "shares the Tikkun perspective." But "will he have the courage to stand up to the Israel Lobby and push Israel towards peace?" Sigh, no. I just love those folks who think it takes courage to say what they say. When actually, in the case of Israel, it is the tritest of sentiments.
One criticism I have heard from pro-Israel folk is that Obama's statement ("Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people") is insensitive to the people of Israel. Please. It is the Palestinians who are suffering, really suffering, and Obama is correct to say this. And that's another reason why the Palestinian leadership has been and still is a criminal leadership: it has been taking the Arabs of Palestine and is still taking the Arabs of Palestine towards nowhere.