“I always value His Majesty’s wisdom and insights, and we have had a very productive session speaking about a whole range of issues that relate to both relations between our two countries but also issues of prosperity and security around the globe,” President Obama said last week in his White House briefing with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.
Saudi Arabia and Israel are sometimes considered America’s two main Middle Eastern allies, and Obama’s treatment of Abdullah certainly trumped his conduct toward Benjamin Netanyahu on March 23, when he snubbed the Israeli prime minister.
It’s not as if there are no policy differences between Obama and Abdullah. The Christian Science Monitor notes that “U.S. officials have expressed concern that Saudi money continues to flow in support of the Taliban, and … US and NATO forces have suffered their deadliest month of the war in June.” Moreover, Saudi textbooks “teach … that Jews and Christians are ‘enemies,’ and they dogmatically instruct that various groups of ‘unbelievers’ … should be killed.” The Saudis undertook in 2006 to clean up these textbooks by 2008, but just last month the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote to Obama: “This promise remains unfulfilled.”
Seemingly, funding a deadly battlefield enemy of the United States and instilling murderous hatred in a generation are “hot” issues between allies. Yet there is no indication that, in last week’s meeting or at any other time, Obama has ever had friction with Abdullah, let alone harshly pressured him to change.
How different with Netanyahu, whose rough reception last March was prompted by an announcement by a planning commission, while Vice-President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, on the building of 1,600 apartments in a Jerusalem neighborhood. Along with Netanyahu’s White House humiliation, and despite the fact that he had already apologized for the grave offense, the administration — particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — tongue-lashed Israel so severely for this infraction that polls showed an erosion in American Jewish support for Obama.
With elections approaching in November and the Democrats’ prospects less than rosy, it is widely thought that Obama’s upcoming meeting with Netanyahu on July 6 will be a much more gracious affair than the last one, aimed at recouping lost ground.
Even if so, no one seriously concerned about Israel should be seduced by mere pleasantries.
Even though members of the administration have recently been averring that Israel’s security is the dearest thing to their hearts, the record speaks otherwise. Indeed, far more ominous than the Jerusalem spat was the administration’s failure to block, and then signing of, the resolution of May’s Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. At the behest of the Arab and Islamic camp, this document fails to mention Iran and singles out Israel as the only state whose presumed nuclear capability merits concern. Previous U.S. administrations prevented such resolutions from passing. Obama’s did not.
Then came the Gaza flotilla incident. The Obama administration, while criticizing Israel less harshly than other Western leaders, failed to veto the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for the fact that its soldiers fired back at a life-threatening mob. Since then Obama has exploited the incident to strong-arm Israel into removing the last vestiges of the civilian blockade of Gaza — even though it means strengthening and perpetuating Hamas’s jihadi statelet on the Mediterranean. Obama has even, in what seems a particularly blind rush to “help Palestinians,” gone so far as to pledge $400 million in aid to Gaza and the West Bank even though this can only mean a further boost to Hamas.
And there’s more trouble on the way. With Israel’s ten-month West Bank construction freeze, instituted by Netanyahu in another of his many capitulations to Obama, due to expire in September, the U.S. is already pushing for Israel to extend the freeze even though most of Netanyahu’s government wants to terminate it. With such tensions already brewing, will Obama in fact be able to keep next week’s meeting with Netanyahu civil? It’s hardly a safe bet.
Many have observed that Obama appeases enemies and dubious “allies” while being nasty to friends. The contrast could hardly be starker than in Obama’s treatment of Saudi Arabia, a sharia dictatorship that is the spigot of worldwide jihad, and Israel, a loyal democracy whose leader bends over backward to accommodate him. Attempts by Obama at this point to show that he’s really Israel’s friend have to be viewed with great suspicion.