Obama's Israel Ambush Backfires
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's attack on Israel is failing spectacularly.
Most Israelis -- especially those in the center and left -- have rallied around Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Judging by the media -- especially television talk shows -- Netanyahu's popularity has soared following the rebuke from Hillary Clinton. Even those who usually berate him have come to his defense. American Jewish leaders and Congress are also pushing back against Clinton's hysteria and Obama's stern reprimands.
After all, the issue of sovereignty in Jerusalem, and therefore who sets the rules, is hardly something that Israelis are prepared to consider. Everyone has understood this for forty years. Since Camp David, in 1978, every American president has accepted that Jerusalem is a final status issue. So why would the Obama administration bring it up now?
To then call Jewish neighborhoods -- in Jerusalem -- "settlements," to dispute the right of Israel to renovate a synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, to scold Israel for wanting to enforce building codes and demolish illegal Arab buildings built in an historic, archeological park, is beyond appalling. To use Hillary's word, it's "humiliating." And to paraphrase her again, it is a deliberate attempt to humiliate the Jewish people.
Obama's ambush seems to have been a trap waiting to be enacted. The question everyone is asking: why? Let's look at the administration's strategy regarding five policy areas:
Iran: Obama's policy of using sanctions to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capability has failed. Israel represents the only military option. Pushing Israel around on minor issues may prevent a surprise attack on Iran.
Afghanistan and Pakistan: Vice President Joe Biden foolishly suggested that Israel's difficulties with the Palestinians were affecting America's struggles to the east.
Jerusalem and settlements: Obama and his administration have made it clear that they do not accept an Israeli presence in areas which it acquired in the Six Day War (1967). This is not a new position, nor is it different from that of most countries in the world. But most have refrained from making this an issue, especially because Arab terrorism is still a problem.