If he was qualified for the Nobel Peace Prize despite having accomplished nothing, I suppose he’s “qualified” for this. Next year’s honoree, presumably: Chuck Hagel?
From the Times of Israel:
“Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life,” Peres and the award committee said in explaining their decision. “As president of the United States of America, he has stood with Israel in times of crisis. During his time as president he has made a unique contribution to the security of the State of Israel, both through further strengthening the strategic cooperation between the countries and through the joint development of technology to defend against rockets and terrorism.”
Obama’s presidency is typified by “an unswerving belief and ongoing fight for equality without any regard for religion, race, sexuality or gender and the strengthening of the weakest in society in the United States; and for the fulfillment of the values of democracy, human rights, solidarity and peace across the world,” the announcement stated. “Through his personal story and his agenda as president of the United States of America, Barack Obama is a symbol of democratic values and he exemplifies the spirit of equality of opportunity in American society.”
What’s he done for Israel? Well, there’s Iron Dome, and he did help out when Egyptian goons attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Then again, by backing the revolution over Israel’s partner Mubarak, O made both of those things more necessary than they might otherwise have been. (A Tel Aviv University poll conducted shortly before the election last year found 57 percent of Israeli Jews hopeful that Romney would win versus 21 percent hopeful that Obama would.) Oh, wait — he gave Shimon Peres a medal last year too, which, per Israel Matzav and the JPost, is likely the true reason Peres is honoring him now:
In the business of presidential medals, reciprocity is the name of the game.
President Shimon Peres will honor US President Barack Obama with Israel’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Distinction, just as Obama conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian award, on Peres at a presidential dinner in Washington in June…
It was more or less on the cards that, if and when Obama visited the country during his second term, Israel would find a way of showing its appreciation for his contribution to the Jewish state’s national security. This sentiment will be emphasized in the citation accompanying the medal.
Yep, but there’s politics involved too. Peres has pushed a more dovish line on Iran than Netanyahu; revisit this NYT interview from last month recounting his public efforts to pressure Bibi into holding off on an attack. By honoring O, he’s providing a symbolic vote of confidence from Israel’s left in the White House’s diplomacy/sanctions approach. Commit this quote from the Times piece to memory, though, because even Peres has his limits: “But in the end, if none of this works, then President Obama will use military power against Iran. I am sure of it.” Show of hands: Who else is sure?