Meeting Gil Hofman

I had the pleasure recently of meeting and listening to Jerusalem Post Chief Political Correspondent Gil Hofman.

Mr. Hofman has inside access to the top politicians in Israel, and is respected throughout the country as a fair, honest and tough correspondent.

The event took place at USC Hillel.

Mr. Hofman was interested in presenting a non-partisan but informative analysis of Israeli attitudes toward present Obama and other issues. Israeli opinion is not monolithic, nor is it static. It has been in the shape of an arc. Analysis and dissection of his remarks is fair, but he was interested in a descriptive presentation where we drew our own conclusions.

With that, I present the words of Gil Hofman.

“I am often referred to as the ‘most optimistic man in Israel.’ Then again, I am only 32 years old.”

“I moved to Israel from Chicago because Chicago politics is too clean for me.”

“In Israel, there was curiosity. Chicago to them used to be Al Capone. Then it became Michael Jordan. Now it is about Barack Obama.”

“Israelis were excited at first because he was new. People would give me messages in Hebrew to give to him. I would say that he did not speak Hebrew. They would say ‘Just give it to Rahm.'”

“Now when thinking about Chicago, Israelis laugh about the Olympics. AMerica lost to naked dancing people from Rio De Janiero.”

“Israel believes in peace in the Middle East the same way we believe in the Messiah, in the same way that people in Chicago believe the Cubs will win the World Series, in the same way we in Israel believe that Jerusalem will get the Olympics.”

“Following Israeli politicians is like following my children, ages three and one. It is about cleaning up messes.”

“We have had so many historic elections lately, not just in America and Israel. Elections have taken place in Lebanon and Iran. Technically, those were elections. January 20th brings Palestinian elections.”

“The United States and Israel went in opposite ideological directions for similar reasons. Americans are tired of what they perceive as a failed war, so they swung to the left. Israelis are tired of what they see as a failed peace process, so they swung to the right.”

“At the start of the 2008 campaign, Israelis looked at Obama and did not understand why Americans wanted an inexperienced guy.”

“Near the end of the campaign Obama was referred to as a ‘Mavrik.’ Mavrik is similar to the word maverick we kept hearing during the campaign, but mavrik actually means ‘shiny, brilliant, and cool.'”

“When Benjamin Netanyahu met George Mitchell, Bibi gave Mitchell a baseball from the inaugural season of the Israeli Baseball League. He knew that Mitchell was a big baseball fan. Mitchell asked him why the ball was blue. Bibi responded that ‘We make everything hard here.'”

“What causes problems between allies is not disagreements but surprises.”

“At their May meeting, Obama sprung a surprise on Netanyahu regarding settlements, breaking prior agreements.”

“Obama thought that this would soften Palestinians. It didn’t. It hardened them. Palestinians set new preconditions. They and the United States went backwards. Israelis went forward with the peace process.”

“1.7% of the West Bank is populated by Jews.”

“Obama then lost more support in Israel with the Cairo speech.”

“It started out positive. He said ‘Don’t throw Israel under the bus.’ He spoke of the ‘unbreakable bond.’ He spoke of womens’ rights, and Muslims helping each other. This was all positive.”

“Then he started with ‘on the other hand.’ WHen he said that ‘Palestinians suffered too,’ Israelis cringed. This is because Israelis feel bad, but not guilt, over Palestinian suffering. They brought it upon themselves.”

“A proposal was originally made to have Jerusalem under the auspices of five states, that being Israel, the Palestinians, the United States, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Palestinians said no.”

“Obama then made it out that Israelw as created from European guilt. This is wrong.”

“Israel is not about 1948 C.E. (A.D.). It is about 1948 B.C.E. (B.C.). Abraham was born, and Jews have been Israel ever since all but 200 years. We spent 40 years in Egypt, 40 years in Babylonia, and then made some wrong turns.”

“Palestinians deny the Jewish people, Jewish history, and Jewish sovereignty anywhere and everywhere.”

“After the Cairo speech, a poll was taken in June of 2009 asking Israelis about Obama’s views toward Israel. 40% said he was neutral, 50% said he was Pro-Palestinian, and 6% siad he was Pro-Israel.”

“in a subsequent poll, the 6% dropped to 4%. The margin of error was 4 1/2%, which means that those not yet born objected to Obama.”

“Obama then had two meetings with the Saudis, asking them to recognize Israel. They said no. At that moment Obama had nothing.”

“Bibi constantly uses the word reciprocity. This allows him to stay on his track because he has said that Israel has done enough, and that the Palestinians must do their part.”

“The final straw was when Obama was seen in the Oval Office with his shoes on the table talking on the telephone with Bibi. In the Middle East, that is seen as disrespectful. Remember when that one reporter threw his shoes. Circulating that picture was seen as a gesture to humiliate Netanyahu.”

“Obama realized how he was perceived in Israel. Determined to repair this image he then circulated a different picture. Obama put his arm on Bibi’s shoulder in front of Mahmoud Abbas. This was seen as a Obama telling Netanyahu that he supported him. Israelis liked this.”

“In New York, the words ‘real peace’ were used, as opposed to just a piece of paper. There were no preconditions. That was another positive step.”

“In discussing settlements, Israel was asked to show ‘restraint.’ This was different from ‘cessation.’ Israel showed restraint for six years. This was again positive language.”

“Obama also planned on attending the Yitzchak Rabin Yartzeight (memorial) in Tel Aviv. He made plans to speak to the Jewish Federation in Washington, DC.”

“Then U.S. and Israel planned joint military exercises, and the United States helped Israel with a sophisticated radar system for Israel to defend itself against Iran.”

“Obama dislikes deadlines. He prefers ‘reassessment.'”

“There are political, economic, and military approaches to Iran.”

“The international economic crisis lowered gas prices , and combining that with sanctions could work. Netanyahu believes this can be successful even without Russia, China, and the United Nations.”

“Like any Israeli, I hope for the best and pray for the worst.”

“When given secrets, I tell my dog. If secrets break out, I ask my dog what happened.”

“Netanyahu believes that preventing a nuclear Iran will increase the chances of a successful peace process. Obama dismissed this viewpoint.”

“Israel then captured an Iranian ship with tons of explosives meant for Hamas and Hezbollah.”

“A Rosh Hashanah poll asked Israelis if they felt that the next year would be better. 28% said no, 11% had no opinion, and 61% said yes. I hope and pray they are right.”

“Muslim growth in Europe is actually good for Israel because it worries Europe.”

“A side note about Rahm Emanuel…his dad is my kids’ pediatrician.”

“Netanyahu was raised in Philadelphia. His chief of staff is from Los Angeles.”

“Those who are surprised why Rahm Emanuel has not stood up for Israel should understand that Rahm was a member of Meretz, a far left party outside the mainstream of Israeli politics. Rahm has meretz views. Bibi’s coalition left out the extremes on the left and the right, yet Meretz is still represented by Rahm.

“Avi Lieberman has been investigated for the last 13 years. This is good and bad for Bibi.”

“Netanyahu is pursuing a Berlin Wall strategy, with Gaza on one side and the West Bank on the other.”

“Palestinians want a homeland. They are emigrating from Detroit to Ramallah.”

“In the United States, Obama’s popularity fell while Netanyahu’s popularity rose in one year. Now that is change.”

I asked Gil Hofman one question, and he was blount in his answer.

“Mr. Hofman, has it entered into Netanyahu’s calculation that the penalty for defying Barack Obama is absolutely nothing?”

Mr. Hofman indicated that this was indeed part off the equation.

I would like to thank Gil Hofman for offering a fascinating perspective on the high hopes Israelis had for Obama, how those hopes plummeted, and how on the surface, there appears to be some recovery.

For now I maintain a very healthy skepticism as to whether his “change” was sincere or just poll driven. As with everything else, time will tell.


4 Responses to “Meeting Gil Hofman”

  1. I think Obama is simply facing reality in regards to Israel and Palestine these days. We’re at a stalemate and the status quo will continue for the foreseeable future. Obama had hoped, I think, the Netanyahu may consider unilaterally moving the way Sharon did. Polticially, Netanyahu can’t, at least not now. Israelis are to on-edge, and Netanyahu has painted himself into a corner. So, Obama backed off. He realized there was simply nothing he could do to alter the status quo, and on top of that, domestic matters here in the US right now far, far, far outweigh Americans’ concern for the Middle East “Peace Process.” A recent CNN/ORC poll showed that by far the number one issue on the minds of Americans is the economy (47%), then healthcare (17%), then the wars (12%), then the deficit (11%), then eductaion (6%), then terrororism at only 4%! Israel and the Palestinians, as an issue, wasn’t even a noticable percentage. Obama has decided to shelve it. He doesn’t have a choice.


  2. Micky 2 says:

    “I think Obama is simply facing reality in regards to Israel and Palestine these days.”

    He thinks he can win the war on terror by kissing every a$$ thats not Jewish.

    “Obama backed off. He realized there was simply nothing he could do to alter the status quo,”

    No, he realized that Bibi wasnt going to take any crap from him.

    “Obama has decided to shelve it. He doesn’t have a choice.”

    Yeah right.
    Hes failing in this dept miserably so decided its best to do what he does best and that is to pander to a bunch of selfish entilement minded moonbats by making healthcare his top priority.

    “Voter confidence in America’s conduct of the War on Terror has fallen to its lowest level since the first week of January in 2007.”

    “New Rasmussen Reports national telephone polling finds that just 34% of voters say the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror. That’s down nine points from a month ago and 21 points from when Barack Obama first took office. ”

    ” A recent CNN/ORC poll showed that by far the number one issue on the minds of Americans is the economy (47%), then healthcare (17%), then the wars (12%), then the deficit (11%), then eductaion (6%), then terrororism at only 4%! ”

    heh, leave it up to CNN to try and diminish the truth.

    “Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters now rate national security and the War on Terror as very important. This comes as voter confidence in America’s conduct of the War on Terror has fallen to its lowest level since the first week of January in 2007.

  3. Dav Lev says:

    Obama is a farce, perhaps the worst Presidet the US has ever had.
    That is the truth, and as my Christians friends like to tell me, “The truth shall set you free”.

    Well voting straight Republican next November is one practical way of
    setting us free, voting for truth, and not promises (like the bank loans)
    that cannot be kept.

    I voted for McCain, not because I thought there were worse choices,
    but because he became the only Republican choice. My initial contributions
    were to Giuliani, the best of all the candidates in my opinion

    Comparing Obama to Giuliani is like comparing Chamberlain to Churchill.

    Giuliani was a good prosecutor (Federal) and the mayor of a difficult
    city to manage, to put it mildly. Obama..well you know his history, a community organizer somewhere in Chicago’s vast teaming metropolis and a junior senator with no experience per se.

    Soooo, we in the US got usual, with great speech writers
    and a telepromter..promising everything to the oppressed minorities,
    the disenfranchised, the alienated..CHANGE was his theme, or as one
    local South American employee at a large store told me, “He will make
    things better”. When I asked specifially how, her face went blank.

    And now we all are blanks..wondering what will our President do, with
    the smiling face, the hesitation in answering questions, the seemingly
    reflective analysis. There is this rabbi who appears on TV often and has
    become somewhat of the social and moral conscience of the US. He says
    Obama is just plain dull.

    I say, more, he is dull, but cleverly dull.

    Afghanistan..still open for speculation, while the Taliban are being recruited
    by the Karzai government..for a few shekels..sort of like the Sunni in
    Iraq (who switch sides faster than a NY minute for a few more shekels).

    As far as Israel…Bibi, like Obama told Abbas and Fatah, that his door is
    open anytime, anywhere…for talks, no preconditions needed. They turned
    it down..going instead to the UNGA to turn back history, the sands of time, to reverse the results of 7 wars.

    They are demanding a state NOW…sort of like CHANGE now to the Holocaust borders of 67.

    Folks the UNSC voted UN242 decade ago. It requires both sides to agree to secure borders. That is still the best plan. What it doesn’t demand
    is what Abbas is demanding..the 67 if the 67 War never happened. As if the Russians didn’t arm Egypt/Syria to the gills, or that Egypt didn’t close down Israel’s waterway and send 100,000 troops to Israel’s border.

    After that war, Israel offered Egypt the land back..for peace. The Arab League answered with peace, no compromise, no negotiation, no

    42 years later, the Jews are still fighting for Israel’s survival..but the players have changed significantly. The Pales are still there, and stronger, and threatening with 80,000 rockets (Lebanaon) an thousands more in the Gaza Strip. Iran has Shahab Missiles and just completed war games to both defend it’s nuke sites and attack simultaneosly every Jew alive, with 40,000 suicide bombers (admitted) and hundreds of missiles, capable of taking out Israel, US interests, half of Europe, our other allies..

    But there is hope folks. Israel’s 400 nukes can itself take out 30m Iranians in 3 weeks and 15m Syrians..according to US general report to Congress.
    With it’s anti-missile defense, most Iranian missles will be shot down,
    hopefully over Tehran..but some will get through.

    Obama could stop all discussions with Iran and Syria. But he won’t. He thinks talking, engaging, diplomacy works.

    Yeah, right, and talking to Hitler would have stopped WW2.

    What can we do to stop the slow destruction of our country and way of life,
    well, for starters look to Nov 2010. Secondly, write your legislators..let them know your feelings..about foreign policy, health, the unemployment, and that’s just for starters.

    It’s now or we will pay later..with lots more Hasans.

  4. Micky 2 says:

    “What can we do to stop the slow destruction of our country and way of life”

    Hit the streets like the moonbats do.
    All women who are concerned with the new breast exam guidelines should hold a “die in” right at the steps to the capitol.
    All those concerned with these asinine foriegn policies should stage mock genocide of American citizens.
    All those concerned with the fate of the economy (or lack of) should figure out how to show the death of the dollar and capitalism in efigy.

    Moonbats will see this and not know what the hell to make of it since its their tactics but instead applied to issues that really matter.

    “write your legislators..let them know your feelings..about foreign policy, health, the unemployment, and that’s just for starters. ”

    At this point I dont know how effective that would be since its really no secret that the majority of the country does not want government run health care or to see the finacial practices we see continue any longer and yet these morons are going full speed ahead anyway with every agenda that pleases them.
    Not until we see a change in the balance of power will writing or calling anyone do any good.
    I believe Americans have become complacent thinking it’ll all work out as they kick back. Theres no doubt that the majority of the country doesnt want this crap but I dont think that majority has the balls that our predecesors had where they would get off their a$$es and actully storm the halls of congress and have these guys ousted to the curb.
    Not until were hanging on by the skin of our teeth, two or three more terrorist attacks, pushing our cars into gas stations and were all lining up in the streets for Obama bread, soup and entitlements will they wake up.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.