Nuancing Ari Fleischer


 Ari Fleischer called me about an earlier blog post I wrote in which I noted that he and another Republican, Michael Hayden, had relatively nice things to say about President Obama’s Middle East policy.

My point was their nuance; Fleischer asks me, fairly, to further nuance my presentation of his statements from a Republican Jewish Coalition call with supporters by adding caveats. I had made clear that he thought the GOP candidate (whom we now know to be Romney) would be better for a variety of reasons, particularly because of the impression among Republicans that Obama has distanced himself from Israel, but Fleischer is right that I should have included each of his caveats as well.

So when he said "Did President Obama retreat from military commitments to Israel, he did not retreat — he continued the trend, and I praise him for that," he also said: "but America’s relationship with Israel is not about military equipment, America’s relationship with Israel is about matters of heart."

And while he credited Obama for increasing sanctions he added: "But will the sanctions be enough, the history of the world gives very little example of sanctions being enough to deter military aggressors and this is why Israel sees it through such a different  lens."

Finally, Fleischer wanted to emphasize that his perception of Obama as neutral — as opposed to hostile to Israel — was no compliment. On the call, he followed up, "He would like to be the great man in the middle" with the following: "You don’t do it [make peace] by having America abandoning its pro-Israel stance."

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