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Il Giornale, March 23rd, 2013

Before leaving US President brokered a phone call between Netanyahu and Erdogan in order to restore diplomatic ties

Jerusalem. Shalom Obama, Israel is looking up in the sky, again left alone, minuscule amidst a stirring Islamic world. After four years of frictions and disagreement, the Jewish people was happy to discover the warmth of a friend; it was comforted by the scene displayed on the tarmac by Bibi and Barak both with their jackets off, patting each other on the shoulder; it held an essential discussion with the US on a new strategy after the long period of astonishment in the aftermath of the Arab springs. When Air Force One took off around 15:00 heading to Jordan’s King Abdullah, it drew embroideries in the scorching sky, depicting a Middle East maybe different from three days ago.

The signal was a last minute dramatic event: “Hi – said Obama speaking to the office of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan from King David Hotel in Jerusalem – I have a friend here for you”. So he handed over the phone to the one who has been Erdogan’s number one enemy for years, even before May 31st 2010, when in order to stop the flotilla the IDF killed nine Turks. Regardless who these people really were, why it happened and so on ... They were for sure no pacifists as narrated by the Turkish tale, but it seems no longer relevant in relations to the events of today. What is important is that under Obama’s wing Bibi apologized for the event, he said that he regretted any act that caused the loss of human lives, he pledged economic compensation to their families, and he vowed amicable deeds towards the Palestinians, including easing up passages from the West Bank and even from Gaza. It is a historic phone call, which ended with the promise to dispatch the ambassadors to Ankara and Jerusalem, who had previously been recalled.

Why did Obama eagerly want to pave the way to the old and once fruitful alliance with Turkey before the Islamist rule of Erdogan? The answer is already written in the choice to make Israel his first destination of his second term, as Cairo had previously been in his first term. Obama has underlined himself this choice. The Cairo speech was in the eve of the Arab springs; Obama was still hoping that his outreach policy and the ousting the old tyrants could grant stability and peace for the whole world. But he was wrong. The takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere, in Egypt especially, did not create internal democracy or an opening to the West. Religions and cultures are clashing like never before in our era. The danger of a world explosion rises geometrically with Iran’s choice to carry on in pursuing the nuclear bomb; Syria is a quagmire where a maddened tyrant and incontrollable forces tied to the most dangerous Sunni factions extending to even Al Qaeda play hopscotch tossing lethal chemical weapons. Hezbollah are the fanatical advocates of this war, Hamas only marks its presence with rockets and threat to Israel, while Abu Mazen, paralyzed by internal threats and by the education to hatred of his own people, did never come to the negotiations brokered by Obama, who pandered to Palestinians. Obama needs now to mend his own mistakes, by creating a new anti-Islamist and anti-Iran alliance in the Middle East.

He therefore paid a visit to Palestinians and proposed again to negotiate, although unconditionally this time. He manifested Netanyahu his change of thought, highlighting the historical right of the Jewish people to its own land. Yesterday, by paying a visit to the Shoah Museum and Yad Va Shem he reiterated the right to Jewish Statehood not on the grounds of the suffered tragedy, but because of its thousand old faithfulness to the land of Israel and its will to come out of slavery into freedom. He is pushing as usual for the peace process, but he is mostly concerned to build a moderate front genuinely close to the US, in order to face the Syrian danger and Hezbollah possibly ready for the Iranian challenge, the most important danger. To crown his task Obama went to Jordan yesterday, where 350 thousand refugees from Syria threaten, in addition to the economic crisis and the massive Islamist presence, King Abdullah, who is waiting the American friend with open arms. He needs Obama, as all other moderate forces in the Middle East in such a critical time do. Likewise, Obama needs them, too. That’s why the US strategy in the Middle East has changed. State Secretary John Kerry will return to Israel after visiting Jordan. There is plenty to do round here.


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