The Blog

"Serious Self-Reflection"

3:17 PM, Jul 14, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Haaretz reports today: "Obama to U.S. Jewish leaders: Israel must engage in self-reflection"

And not just any old self-reflection. According to the article, Obama told Jewish leaders at the White House yesterday that Israel would need "to engage in serious self-reflection."

"Serious self-reflection!" It's really good that Barack Obama is reminding the leaders and people of Israel to engage in that. I hope they're up to it. After all, what do Israelis know about reflecting on, and living with, the life and death consequences of political decisions? What do Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon -- either as individuals or as leaders -- know about war and peace? These are guys -- and the Israelis are a people -- who just coast along, taking an easy path, never debating, never thinking, never questioning, never second-guessing...and never making or asking their fellow citizens to make sacrifices.

Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and David Axelrod, on the other hand -- they're seriously self-reflective individuals. Look at their wide experiences at peace and in war. Look how they've had to grapple with life and death decisions for decades. For them, it's not just talk and spin and positioning. The American president and his advisors -- they've made personal sacrifices, they've come to grips with the tough choices over their decades of accomplishment in public life. They've got the standing to lecture the people and leaders of Israel on the need for self-reflection.

And so they did.