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Rift between Israel and the United States: Flotilla incident didn't help

A closer look at Jewish anger over President Obama’s policies after the flotilla raid incident.

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It is difficult to recall a time when relations between a sitting US president and the Jewish state of Israel have been uglier.

The embarrassing and deadly raid by not-so-crack Israeli commandos on Gaza-bound relief ships May 31 only further demonstrates how badly the American president is constrained because of his earlier jagged ties with the government of Israel and with angry, right-wing American Jews.

The Obama administration was painfully aware of just how abysmal relations with Israel had become even before the confrontation at sea.

Amid Washington’s fears of an even deeper breach with Jewish voters as well as earlier disagreements over Jewish settlement building in Jerusalem, the

Obama administration’s response to the flotilla raid was muted. Much of the rest of the world viewed the incident as another public relations torpedo below the waterline of Israel’s international reputation.

But Washington’s reluctance to condemn the Israeli fiasco is not likely to help President Obama’s reputation with Jews.

One Israeli friend – who can’t be named because he works for a major US media organization – told me he was livid about a previous perceived Obama slap at the Jewish state. “We will never forgive the Obama White House for saying America pays with blood and treasure for the continuing conflicts in the Middle East,” he said. “Obama was implicitly blaming Israel for Arab hatred of the United States and terrorism. This is classic anti-Semitism, blaming Jews for all wars.”

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