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MICHAEL GOODWIN: Is Obama Finally Getting Religion On Israel?

Here's a flip-flop worth applauding. President Obama looks to be dropping his failed hard-line policy toward Israel and is moving closer to the position he inherited from President Bush.
Some Jewish leaders believe Obama realizes it was a mistake to put pressure for peace only on Israel and let Palestinians off the hook. They also say he has renounced the idea of imposing a settlement and concedes the parties must make their own peace.

"There are signs he has reverted to the traditional position, that America would propose a plan, but not impose one," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

He cited a letter from Obama to his organization where the president stressed his "unshakable" commitment to Israel's security and said peace "must be negotiated directly" by Israel and the Palestinians.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made the same points in a TV interview and National Security Adviser James Jones used almost identical language in a speech.

Former Mayor Ed Koch, who has been critical of Obama, is optimistic. "I think that letter brings U.S. policy back to where it was," he said, though he added that his trust in Obama "is like Humpty Dumpty, it can never be what it was."

Jewish members of Congress are expected to meet with Obama this week. Most are Democrats.
The White House maintains it is trying to correct only a "perception" that Obama was too tough on Israel. It says there is no substantive change in policy.

I don't buy the White House spin. Then again, I'm not sure it has a coherent plan.
Its policy hit a dead end and was backfiring at home, with top Democrats growing increasingly critical. It has to change for both substantive and political reasons.

The humiliating treatment Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton dished out to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu created a backlash among many Jewish Americans, who gave more than 75 percent of their votes to Obama.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, among others, pleaded for better relations. One poll had only 10 percent of Israelis viewing Obama as a friend.

More important, there is a sense another Mideast war is more likely as a result of Obama's one-sided pressure. In power calculations, weakened American support encourages aggression among Muslims, most of whom harbor the fantasy of eliminating Israel.

Much of the blame is aimed at Clinton. Koch said she "betrayed" her earlier support for Israel. Sen. Chuck Schumer told me Obama's policy is "counterproductive" and said Clinton made a mistake reaming out Netanyahu.

No doubt Clinton accepted her task too enthusiastically, but the policy stinks from the head. Obama wants to woo Muslims and blasting Israel is central to the plan.

Even if that is changing, there are still major unknowns, especially America's bottom line about Iranian nukes. Jones said the United States "is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons," a point Vice President Joe Biden stressed in Israel.

Yet Obama has not said that and he has failed to convince China and Russia to back even modest sanctions. There is suspicion Obama will let Iran's mad mullahs get their nukes, then play defense.

Also troubling is Jones' foolish linking of Iran to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, saying peace "would take such an evocative issue away from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas."

The concept is faculty-lounge nonsense. It gives Iran and its terror proxies a legitimacy they don't deserve by suggesting they have rational reasons for their murderous ways. If America buys the idea, it ends up blaming the victim for terrorism.

Koch has contempt for the linkage: "If the Israelis and the Palestinians played kissy-kissy tomorrow, Muslims would still go on killing Muslims, as they have for 1,400 years."
The day Obama comes to that realization is the day his policy has a chance to succeed.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.

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Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.