Comments: Obama and the Middle East - A Mediator's Perspective

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Joseph Maizlish, Los Angeles CA   12/04/12
Financing one party's military is not neutrality
On the list of non-mediative behaviors of the Obama administration and the President himself we ought not leave out the financing of the Israeli military and government budget generally. That financing enables and contributes to the Israeli government's every military and police action, restocks its weaponry whenever needed, and indirectly sponsors the very settlement expansion of which U.S. administration figures complain as being "unhelpful." Whether one likes or dislikes that assistance (or even if one doesn't consider it really assistance), we ought not ignore in this case what we would say about such relationships between anyone claiming to be neutral or even just trying to be a believable helper to parties in conflict.

Mike Abraham, Greenville SC   07/24/11
Obama's Mediation Skills
You are absolutely correct in your assessment of President Obama's attempt to "negotiate" the Israel-Palestine conflict. His speech has clearly violated virtually every tenet that mediation holds true. The speech came across much more as an attempt to pressure one party, or at a minimum to empower one party over another. None of this should come as any surprise however. Recall the "Beer Summit" between the police officer and the professor who was a personal acquaintance of the president. After publicly reprimanding the entire Massachusettes police department, Obama then chose to personally "mediate" between the two. Personal relationship with one party in conjunction with a publicly stated position (bias), plus a lack of training requires that Obama recuse himself from participation in mediation of the matter. Only immense arrogance could lead anyone to believe that their oratory skills alone would be enough to convince others (whether it be the police and the professor, Israel and Palestine, etc) to resolve their long-standing issues. Thus far, none of the President's attempts have found any success in any world affairs nor even on domestic disputes.

Michael Pollack, Milwaukee WI     06/16/11
Middle East mediation
Interesting perspective Denise. I am sure President Obama would like to be a mediator who brings the Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace, but he cannot because he is not neutral or impartial. The best he (and the U.S. in general) can be is a concerned rich uncle. We have too much invested in both sides. Perhaps the U.S. should be a party to any negotiations, but not the mediator. Unfortunately, I don't know who is in a position to be a truly impartial and effective mediator to resolve this dispute. I hope that the U.S. can get its economic house in order so it can continue to support Israel and any reasonably friendly Arab regime until they can resolve their disputes peacefully. The tough love approach (cutting off U.S. aid to either side) opens the door to too many unthinkable third parties stepping in to the breach.