President-elect Barack Obama is expected to have a rocky relationship with Israel, according to an academic research study published in the wake of the November 4 presidential election.

A report from the Israel-based Bar Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center (BESA) said the forthcoming Obama administration likely will clash with the next Israeli government. The report, authored by Jonathan Rynhold, cited Mr. Obama’s plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and reconcile with Iran and Syria.

“Obama’s preferences regarding Iran and Iraq have serious implications for Israel,” the report, titled “President Obama and the Middle East Challenge,” said. “If the U.S. were to leave Iraq unstable, with the perception being one of American weakness and failure, it will strengthen the resolve of all radical forces in the region that threaten Israel and its de facto allies in the Arab world, such as Jordan.”

The report said Republican presidential election loser Sen. John McCain marked the “more comfortable option for Israel.” Mr. Rynhold envisions tense relations between Mr. Obama and any Likud-led government in Israel. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has been leading in most polls in the race to be Israel’s next prime minister.

The report said Israel could no longer count on Republicans in Congress to temper Mr. Obama’s policies in the Middle East. Instead, Mr. Obama would be supported by a Democratic-controlled Congress and a new Jewish lobby, “J Street,” that would seek to undermine the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which maintains a close relationship with the Israeli government.

Mr. Rynhold, a senior research associate at BESA, said the incoming Obama administration could retain several leading advisers long regarded as hostile toward Israel. The report cited former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

“These different approaches could all find expression in parts of the future Obama administration,” the report said. “In turn, this could lead to bureaucratic in-fighting and consequently policy incoherence, as has frequently occurred in the past.”

The report envisions a Middle East crisis at the onset of the Obama administration, and Mr. Rynhold writes that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy would be hampered by his lack of experience and dependence on his managerial and decision-making abilities.

“The central challenge for Obama in the Middle East is neither democratization nor securing a comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict – though those are worthy long term objectives – but rather the maintenance of a stable pro-American balance of power in the region,” the report said. “First and foremost, that means dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue.”


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.