Tuesday, March 08, 2011

There, There My Pretties, Have Some More Tit

Obama seeks to mollify U.S. Jewish groups uneasy about Mideast turmoil

"As Egypt's government hurtled toward collapse, a senior White House official got on the phone with American Jewish leaders who were worried what it might mean for the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

The official, Daniel Shapiro of the National Security Council, promised them that the treaty, long seen as a cornerstone of the Jewish state's security, would endure.

But when asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that may wind up with a share of power in Egypt, Shapiro was more noncommittal, according to participants in the call. He said the U.S. does not have a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and that, in the end, Egypt would pick its own leaders.

That troubled some of the Jewish leaders, and their reaction confronts the Obama administration with a new dilemma: In adapting to rapid developments in the Middle East, the president could alienate part of his domestic political base.

Jewish leaders largely praise President Obama's management of the crisis that culminated in the demise of the President Hosni Mubarak's government in Cairo. But David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, noted that "the big question is, can they [the Muslim Brotherhood] play a constructive role or not? There are those who would like to believe they can. To put it mildly, we remain to be convinced."

Soon after Egypt's protests began, the White House took pains to reassure Jewish leaders. The administration briefed them on events, pledged itself to Israel's security, and stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood would be a minor player in Egyptian politics."


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