5. Thou shalt call things by their names.
Israelis respect directness and have little patience for bull. They expect Obama to demonstrate the same candor he's shown in reference to their best interests -- and the character of their premier -- when speaking of their bitterest enemies. Hezbollah is an instructive example. Obama's new defense secretary was one of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter to the EU urging it to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, despite it having shed the blood of more than 250 Americans -- including the assassination of a CIA chief and brutal abduction of a Marine Corps colonel and hundreds of Jews and Israelis worldwide. John Brennan, the president's newly confirmed CIA chief has called the group a "very interesting organization" whose "moderate elements" Washington hopes to build up. To win respect in Israel, he'll have to show he's harder-headed than his national security leadership, that he understands that for certain organizations and regimes, hatred of the West -- and its torch-bearer America -- is a fundamental pillar of their worldview. Asking a Muslim Brother or Hezbollah member to stop hating the United States is like asking Americans to quit that whole freedom business. To win over Israelis -- at least those on the center and the right -- Obama will have to show he's learned some people are unengageable.
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