During the presidential campaign the pro-Israel Right warned anyone who would listen that Obama would surround himself with all kinds of Israel haters from the Left. But articles like this in the Wall Street Journal are throwing his opposition into confusion:
Scowcroft Protégés on Obama’s Radar
WASHINGTON — Many of the Republicans emerging as potential members of the Obama administration have professional and ideological ties to Brent Scowcroft, a former national-security adviser turned public critic of the Bush White House.
The relationship between the president-elect and the Republican heavyweight suggests that Mr. Scowcroft’s views, which place a premium on an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, might hold sway in the Obama White House.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was deputy national-security adviser under Mr. Scowcroft in the George H.W. Bush administration, is almost certain to be retained by Mr. Obama, according to aides to the president-elect. Richard Haass, a Scowcroft protégé and former State Department official, could be tapped for a senior National Security Council, State Department or intelligence position. Mr. Haass currently runs the Council on Foreign Relations.
Other prominent Republicans with close ties to Mr. Obama — including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed the Democrat in the final days of the campaign, and Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — share Mr. Scowcroft’s philosophy.
The argument is now going to shift to where it should have been all along — not who is “pro-Israel” or “anti-Israel,” but whose approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is best for Israel, the United States, and the region. A segment of the pro-Israel community reads “premium on an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord” and sounds the alarum — the moderates in this camp, many genuinely concerned about Israel’s long-term security, equate “priority” with unacceptable pressure, while the ideologues on this side fear any moves that will mean Israel will have to abandon settlements or discuss Jerusalem, and scoff at the idea that Palestinian question is one of human rights.
Supporters of the assertive kind of approach look forward to any kind of progress in the Middle East, and welcome an active, even aggressive U.S. role in helping both sides make the hard choices that any peace deal will necessarily entail. Balancing the ideologues on the Right are members of this camp who put the balance of blame on Israel and hope that Israel will “get what’s coming to it.”
But make no mistake — both sides include folks who are genuinely and deeply pro-Israel, and whose first priority is Israel’s security. Unfortunately, rhetoric won’t play out that way, and they’ll each accuse the other of the worst possible motivations. That’s a shame.
And one other thing: Israel is not a shrinking violet in this debate — its people go to the polls next year, and have a large say in deciding their own direction and destiny. Its people and leaders, and not the alphabet soup of Jewish organizations or the army of oped writers, bloggers, and email forwarders, will decide how fast or slow to go in negotiations.