Obama’s miscalculations

There are, at times, no words to describe the feeling of watching some historical event happen, knowing what will take place, and yet wonder why others see such a different picture. I am not waving flags in the street, happy that the great American president has come to Israel. Frankly, I think it’s a terrible mess – bad timing for normal Israelis. You know, the very people Obama really doesn’t want to meet.

But one word keeps coming to my mind as I hear how Obama and his team have managed (and mismanaged) Israelis. The word is “miscalculation.”

First – Obama’s team vastly miscalculated how seriously Israelis are angered by the continued imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard. And yes, we do care. He made a mistake – Israel made a mistake. It was a mistake borne out of the US breaking an agreement to share security intelligence, but it was still a mistake. To save the embarrassment on both sides, a plea bargain was made and a trial avoided –and then the US broke the agreement and sentenced Pollard to life in prison for a crime that should have been given less than five years. He has served 28 years and the whole incident stinks.

Second – Obama miscalculated how much his slighting Ariel University would bother Israelis – even…even, can you imagine, the left-leaning Labor Party. MK Nachman Shai joined others in condemning Obama’s refusal to welcome Israeli students from Ariel University simply because of where it is located.Of course, Obama ignores the fact that thousands of Arab students attend Ariel University. Of course, he ignored the fact that it is OUR right to declare a university what it is and we are the hosts of this event, not him.

Third – he miscalculated when it was announced that Obama would not speak at our Knesset. It was an honor to be given such an invitation; and a slap in the face to reject it.

And on a minor note, they miscalculated when they put diesel fuel in the engine of one of those fancy Cadillac armored vehicles yesterday, forcing the car to be towed up to Jerusalem. Maybe that miscalculation is the most telling of all, the most symbolic of what this visit really means.

Obama is ready to charge up the hill, but misses the most basic of points. With the wrong fuel, you don’t get anywhere. Put the wrong ingredients into the negotiations and there won’t be an agreement. Poison the well and the system fails.

Another miscalculation – his visit comes at a time when we are busy. Seriously busy. I know it sounds funny, but Israelis have enough to do the week before Passover without having our streets jammed up waiting for Obama to pass over us to the Palestinians.

And the final Obama miscalculation was his thinking that it was in his power to start, restart or even affect the peace process. On the first full day of his visit, five rockets were fired at Israeli cities. It was a well delivered message from Gaza to Obama. An insult, actually, and one more effective than anything Israel could deliver.

We are scurrying to help him enjoy his visit here; taking his little insults and trying to stomach them with smiles on our faces – stupid people that we are…but Hamas is under no such misconception. They actually don’t like Obama – they think he’s too soft on Israel, isn’t that funny?

So Obama continues to roam around, wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Israelis; the Palestinians will still violently protest, burn American and Israeli flags and stone cars on various roads and Hamas may yet fire more rockets at us in the hours ahead.

Thanks Obama, welcome to Israel…and when are you leaving?

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.