The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview
By Yair Rosenberg for Tablet Magazine
Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published a wide-ranging interview with President Obama on the Middle East. Naturally, much of the ensuing commentary has focused on the president’s defense of his Iran diplomacy and his administration’s handling of the fight against ISIS. But in poring over Obama’s comments on these big ticket issues, one of the president’s more remarkable statements has largely been overlooked: his equation of denying Israel’s right to exist with anti-Semitism.
In the latter part of their conversation, Obama and Goldberg turned to the subject of Israel. The president began by making a spirited case against those in the pro-Israel community who equate his criticisms of Israeli policy with an anti-Israel or anti-Semitic outlook. “I completely reject that,” he said. On the contrary, the president argued, by standing up for the shared liberal values of the U.S. and Israel—and pointing out when either falls short—he is ensuring both countries will endure and thrive. “I want Israel, in the same way that I want the United States, to embody the Judeo-Christian and, ultimately then, what I believe are human or universal values that have led to progress over a millennium,” he said. “I want Israel to embody these values because Israel is aligned with us in that fight for what I believe to be true.”
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