A new high-tech personality profiling method finds that US President Barack Obama was “unfriendly” when talking about Israel and the Palestinians in a recent interview in The New York Times — a limited finding that, it should be stressed, cannot be taken to reflect the president’s overall disposition on the subject.
The computer-based method examines texts to characterize personality in a given context. It has not been fully validated and does not definitively test policies or intentions. Even so, the results would reinforce the notions of many Israelis and Palestinians who consider Obama and his administration unfriendly to their respective peoples.
“When I saw the results, I simply started laughing,” said Prof. Yair Neuman, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who developed the method. “If it would have been different, fine. But it is in line with the suspicions of some Israelis.”
Neuman says, in this context, the dimension of unfriendliness means a person is uncomfortable discussing a certain subject and is trying to avoid talking about it.
‘Obama is basically saying, Guys, stop bothering me with these Israelis.’
By comparison, the analysis indicates that Hillary Clinton, considered the leader in the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2016, didn’t express negative emotions about Israel and the Palestinians in a recent interview she gave the Atlantic magazine.
Neuman’s method, which he describes as augmented intelligence, works with any text of a person’s words – from a speech, interview, essay, or online post. The text is processed by computer software he developed. An expert must interpret the results. More