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Ron Radosh

Obama’s Position on Israel: Why Are We Surprised?

March 19th, 2010 - 5:59 pm

A day earlier, Peretz wrote, in equally harsh terms, that Obama, not wanting to enrage the Palestinians, sent out Joe Biden and then Hillary Clinton to “beat up on Israel and they did.” He goes on to mention that someone compared Obama to Charles Lindbergh — a comparison he does not dissent from — and that he himself sees Obama as a man who demands something from the Israelis but virtually nothing from the Palestinians.

Citing a Tuesday dispatch that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Peretz notes that the story reported that speaking to a dozen American Jewish leaders, the President “planned to create some ‘space, between Israel and his administration. ‘We have to change the way the Arabs see us,’ Obama told the assembled Jews. And, apparently according to General Petraeus, to change how the Pakistanis and the Afghanis see us too.”

President Obama, Peretz concludes, “belongs…to the Arabisant school of history.” He adds: “He is so vain or at least vain enough not to see that his coddling of the Palestinians encourages them in their maximalist tactics and strategies. As soon as Obama’s real rage against Israel (not just his impatience with it or different view of its history) became known the Palestinians felt they could escalate and exacerbate their actions.”

His point is quite reminiscent of what Clark Clifford told Harry S. Truman in May of 1948, when he gave him a memo opposing the State Department’s hostile position against recognition of a Jewish state. Clifford told Truman that he could not take a soft position against the Arabs, because it would only encourage them in their military campaign against the Haganah. As Clifford put it, the United States had to stop “the shilly-shallying appeasement of the Arabs.” Good advice then — and still relevant now.

So the issues are clear, and all the writers I mentioned at the start of this blog are clear about the real issues. My only question is this: Why should we be so surprised at the direction President Obama has taken?  After all, this is a man who listened to the anti-Semitic diatribes of Reverend Wright for years without saying one word. Moreover, when he attended the goodbye party for his friend, Prof. Rashid Khalidi, before he left Chicago for Columbia University, he told Khalidi that if he ever attained high office, he would use his power to redress US policy towards the Palestinian side. No wonder, as a press story reported, Palestinian leaders in the US firmly believed that “Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.”

That was a few years ago. The story, and others like it, were completely ignored. Most liberal American Jews poo-poohed them,  and argued that they were propaganda emanating from right-wing Republican sources. Now, we have clear evidence that rather than being false impressions, President Barack Obama is honoring his commitment made to Khalidi and other Palestinians and American leftists.

Isn’t it time American Jews who understand why the United States is Israel’s most important ally, and want our country to honor its long-standing commitment to the only real democracy in the Middle East, take the President at his word, and not dream up positions for him that he obviously does not believe? I think Peretz is right. President Obama does not like Israel, and his sympathies are with its enemies. No wonder that on television yesterday, Zbig Brzezinski expressed his support for what Obama is now doing in the Middle East.  With the likes of Brzezinski saying the President is pursuing a policy he has long advocated, it is no wonder Israelis are worried.

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