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Paging Ben Rhodes

Aluf Benn in the NYT and Bradley Burston in Haaretz both urge Obama to make a speech to the Israeli people, akin to the one he made in Cairo to Muslims. On one level, Obama's failure to do this with Israelis makes sense. For one thing, since Israel is a democracy, Obama is presumably talking to the Israeli people when he talks to their democratically elected leaders; Obama doesn't have that same line of communication when he talks to unelected Muslim leaders like Hosni Mubarak. Moreover, Obama's Cairo speech was aimed at the Muslim world--in other words, about 1.5 billion people; a speech to the Israeli people would be aimed at only about 7.5 million people.

Still, a direct speech to the Israeli people--one that features the usual Obama mixture of flattery and tough love--probably wouldn't hurt. As Benn, Burston, and Yossi Klein Halevi all make clear, Obama is not popular in Israel right now--with one recent poll finding that only 6 percent of Israelis consider Obama a friend. In other words, it's hard to imagine how, at this point, Obama would decrease his standing among Israelis by talking directly to them. Maybe Ben Rhodes should get busy.

--Jason Zengerle