We had our panel discussion last night at Nativot Shalom in Berkeley and I think that it went very well. The question that we discussed was whether or not the Obama administration has been good for Israel.
My answer, needless to say, was "no," of course this administration has not been good for Israel. I gave three reasons why this is the case.
1) Obama screwed up any potential peace deal by demanding "total settlement freeze" as a precondition for talks. He thus drove Mahmoud Abbas up a tree, where the Palestinian dictator resides to this day.
2) It has encouraged, or allowed, the rise of Political Islam. Before coming into office the Radical Jihad could lay claim to Gaza, Hezbollah, Iran and, I suppose, Darfur (I am not entirely sure just when that country went Islamist). Today, in measures greater and smaller, we need to add Libya, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. This development is both historic and exceedingly worrisome, yet I get the distinct impression that very few people on the progressive-left really notice or care.
3) The ongoing failure to deter Iranian nukes. If Zionism means anything, it means that Jews will no longer allow ourselves to live or die according to the whims of non-Jews. If Iran gets the bomb then, yet again, Jews will live or die according to the whims of non-Jews and that is simply unacceptable.
The conversation went very well because people were willing to disagree without being disagreeable.
Also, our facilitator, Rachel Eryn, was top-notch and Michael Harris, of Stand With Us, is always an interesting guy. The third panel member, who argued that the Obama administration is, in fact, good for Israel, was Volleyboy1. (I am reluctant to post Volleyboy's actual name for obvious reasons, so I will not do so here.)
VB and I have a "gentlemen's wager" concerning the Jewish vote in the next presidential election. While about 80 percent of Jews voted for Obama in '08, I am betting that he will receive 65 percent or under in the next election. The stakes are dinner and cocktails.
We shall see.