In a blog posted on American Thinker, Ed Lasky suggested that criticism of “Obama’s stance towards Israel has [finally] gone mainstream.” And while that may be true with regard to some in the mainstream media, I believe that mainstream liberal Jews do not recognize the harmful effects of Obama’s promised change to America’s relationship with Israel.
Lasky questioned where Obama’s Jewish defenders have been hiding, noting that:
Their silence is deafening and also says a great deal about their prior views and how they feel right now.
I agree that the silence of America’s Jewish population has been deafening with regard to Obama’s Mideast policy. However, I am concerned that the silence does not only indicate continued support for Obama and his policies. I fear that it also encourages Obama to continue his bullying of Israel, our staunchest ally and friend in the Middle East.
Obama’s recent awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson is a prime example of the deafening silence from America’s Jewish population. Jonathan Tobin, writing in Commentary, recognized the following:
But friends of Israel, especially those Jewish Democrats who have been doing their best to ignore the White House’s increasingly belligerent tone toward the Jewish state, would do well to note what happened this week. Obama honored one of the most virulent enemies of Israel. … He has gotten away with it with hardly a scratch on his reputation. Though some will dismiss this incident as a mere blunder that will soon be forgotten, I doubt that Obama and his advisers will forget how easily they were able to dismiss a nearly universal Jewish dismay. …
If anyone thinks the administration can be deterred from taking future stances that are clearly invidious to the security of Israel, the Robinson episode may well have taught Obama that he can get away with anything when it comes to Jewish Democrats.
However, as an American Jew, I hope that Tobin is wrong. Obama’s actions to date do not reflect well on his approach toward Israel and the American Jews that helped elect him. With his first phone call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, video to the Iranian people, speech in Cairo, appointment to senior positions of people with blatant hostility towards Israel, and linkage of the Iranian nuclear program with a cessation of natural growth in Jewish settlements, Obama has made it clear that he favors the Palestinians and will continue to do so even if it means the ultimate destruction of the state of Israel.
The State Department’s continual harassment of Israel over plans to build apartments in sovereign Israeli territory, plans to evict Palestinian families from homes illegally built in sovereign Israeli territory, and issues related to natural growth in the settlements has had the effect of empowering the Palestinians and convincing the world that the Israelis are the bad guys. P. David Hornik noted in FrontPage Magazine:
[T]his administration’s spotlighting of Israel as the alleged bad boy … causes unnecessary frictions in the relationship and does nothing to promote peace or U.S. interests, while continuing to chip away at Israel’s already badly maligned image.
However, the most critical decision of the administration to date is the announcement that Obama has agreed to face-to-face discussions with Iran, a dictatorship committed to Israel’s destruction. Obama has agreed to unconditionally accept Iran’s conditional offer to discuss everything under the sun except Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which it has proclaimed is non-negotiable. Bret Stephens writing recently in the Wall Street Journal questioned why the administration is taking every step possible to push Israel closer to war with Iran when it certainly is not in the best interests of either Israel or the United States.
And if Israel is forced to act alone in order to prevent, or at least delay, a nuclear Iran (and it is certainly looking more and more likely that Obama has accepted the inevitability of a nuclear Iran), it is just as important to question whether Obama will back Israel up militarily with weapons supplies, intelligence, and deterrence (with cover in the UN Security Council, which will surely act to rebuke any strike). In an interview with FrontPage Magazine, Victor Davis Hanson suggested the possibility of just the opposite response from the administration:
Quietly [Israelis] must assume during the Obama tenure that the United States is no longer an ally in the same special sense as in the past, and thus not depend on American support for any of its initiatives. E.g., if Israelis feel that a strike against Iran is necessary for their very survival, they had better have a stockpile of spare military parts and supplies beforehand, and a sophisticated diplomatic and public relations reactive team ready. (You see I fear some in this administration want Israel to bomb Iran to at last give it the long-desired excuse to cut Israel loose entirely).
Furthermore, the situation for Israel is looking more precarious this month as the UN Security Council meets to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The Gladstone Commission has singled out Israel for violations of international law in defending its citizens against Hamas attacks in Gaza during Operation Cast Iron last year. And the Obama administration has reneged on an existing agreement with its allies in Eastern Europe to provide missile defense. Thus, the decision to engage Iran on issues unrelated to its nuclear weapons program, coupled with this month’s events, does not bode well for Israel, let alone U.S. support of future Israeli defensive measures.
The real enigma is why liberal Jews find it an anathema to support their progressive values and Israel at the same time. Why must liberal values and support for Israel be mutually exclusive? American Jews did not have Israel at the top of their list of priorities when determining for whom to vote in this last election, but now that Obama is in office, I question their silent response to his clearly antagonistic approach to Israel. (A Pew Research Center poll conducted in January of this year indicated that almost twice as many conservatives as liberals sympathize with Israel in the Middle East conflict.)
One of the issues with which American Jews are concerned is racism. In particular, many Jews appeared to fall for the racism card prior to the election and continue to support the accusation by various Democrats and the biggest racist and anti-Semite of them all, Jimmy Carter. Those that do not blindly support Obama are racist. And yet with anti-Semitism on the rise and support for Israel decreasing the world over, it is unfathomable that Jews in this country remain silent.
Their guy is in office and just as he owes the unions, George Soros, and all of the other left-wing constituencies that voted for him, Obama owes American Jews more than just a meeting with the anti-Israel group J Street and a conference call with a carefully screened group of rabbis in which he presses them to plug his plans for socialized medicine in their Rosh Hashana sermons.
As I watch Americans of diverse socio-economic demographics come together to organize tea parties, protest at town hall meetings, and ensure that their voices are heard with regard to Obama’s destructive domestic agenda, I keep wondering when I will hear American Jews protest Obama’s Mideast agenda? While our president, who remains on a perpetual campaign tour, may not need the vote of American Jews any longer, he certainly has benefited from their financial support. American Jews need to ensure that their voices are heard and that they make it clear that the present policy emanating from the White House is unacceptable.
As Jews the world over celebrate the high holidays, I hope and pray that American Jews reflect on the events of the past year and the realities of the world in which they live. While the reformed rabbis that participated in Obama’s sales pitch in a conference call last month appeared to be asleep or intimidated at the time, I look forward to learning that instead of preaching liberalism to the choir that already blindly supports Obama’s misdirected policies, they choose to use their pulpit to address the dire situation for Israel and Jews globally.
As we listen to the sound of the shofar and usher in this New Year, I pray for the self-reflection by my fellow American Jews that will lead to their rekindled connection and absolute commitment to Israel.