I find myself becoming more and more upset and exasperated with the way Israel is being thrown under the bus by President Obama. During his most recent Major SpeechTM, this time in Cairo — which seemed to be more popular with the American press than with the Egyptians, and which Charles Krauthammer aptly described as “abstract, vapid, and self-absorbed” — Obama made clear his intent to fundamentally change U.S.-Israeli relations, which up until now have been that of friends and allies.
He announced in Cairo: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” This was merely a formality. Anyone who pays attention could see where he was headed when he declared Iran’s nuclear energy concerns are “legitimate,” despite the fact that this is an oil-rich nation. Money for nuclear facilities might be better spent on oil refineries. But it’s not about energy. It’s about Iran’s dearest wish: to wipe Israel off the map.
Moreover, while Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not as bad as some had feared it might be, it didn’t give the Israelis much to celebrate. As P. David Hornik rightly points out, the perception that Israel must be the one to defuse ever-rising tensions by even more diplomacy and concessions of territory — despite the fact that such moves have done nothing in the name of peace in the region and even ended up backfiring on Israel — is ominous indeed.
Obama proudly declared that the U.S. will “listen,” not “dictate,” when it comes to world affairs. But all bets are off when it’s Israel.
Why is he doing this? That’s a subject for another article.
Six million Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust. The modern nation of Israel is populated by just over seven million souls. What’s a million Jews here or there, right?
Speaking with my mother recently, I wanted to know more about my Jewish great-grandmother, who came over from Germany circa 1910-1912. Things were already getting hot for Jews, even before the days of the Weimar Republic and then the Nazis. The government had already forced her family out of their home and her father, who manufactured men’s clothing and accessories, lost his business. Great-Grandma Clara took the opportunity to leave when she could. She was on her way to America to marry my great-grandfather, Axel, a Danish immigrant. (Details on how they met are still fuzzy.) Hearing her stories about what was happening in Germany, Axel encouraged her to leave sooner than they had planned, in case she lost her chance. A short while after she arrived, her sister Irma followed — but they were the only ones from their family to immigrate.
Mom says Clara didn’t like to admit to being German, even though her thick accent was a dead giveaway. Even worse, she was afraid of anyone finding out about her Jewish heritage. She and Axel, who was Lutheran, both converted to the Episcopalian faith. Mom doesn’t know why they picked the Episcopal Church but, regardless, believes Clara’s conversion was partly because of her fear of being “found out.” No matter what, she was unable to shake her dread that what was happening to Jews in Europe could also happen in America. And so she kept silent.
The accomplishment she was most proud of was going to night school to learn English and becoming an American citizen. She loved Election Day and never missed a vote, and she thought America was the greatest country ever.
But her love for America didn’t erase all her fears. Before war broke out, Clara would receive letters from home telling her what was going on, and she was afraid that even the mailman was a spy and that he would go tell the U.S. government that he’d found a German Jew. After all, this is what was happening in Germany.
During World War II, the story goes, Clara and Axel — who spoke seven languages, including German — sat and listened to Hitler’s speeches over the radio. They knew what he was and what he was doing to the Jews in Germany and elsewhere, but such was his power as a speaker that there they would sit, huddled by the radio, nodding and agreeing with everything he said. After the speeches were over, they had to shake themselves out of the hypnotic trance into which they’d been put while listening to him.
All of Clara and Irma’s remaining family members in Germany were put into concentration camps during the war and, somehow, all of them managed to survive. Unfortunately, they were scattered around Germany at the war’s end because of the Nazis’ practice of separating families and sending them to different camps. But they all knew one thing: Clara was living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the far-off United States. They began writing to her. When one wrote, she would be able to tell him where the others whom she had heard from were. And thus Clara was instrumental in reuniting the family members who had been ripped apart during the cruel reign of the Nazis. Some of them even came to visit after the war, my mother remembers, and Clara finally lost some of her paranoia. But her sister Irma was even more ashamed of her Jewishness than Clara was and never got over it. She would always tell my mother not to admit to having Jewish family.
What would Clara say if she knew of Israel’s treatment by President Obama? I can’t presume to say. But I know what I think. I’m disgusted.
Israel now finds itself cast adrift without a friend in the world and surrounded by hostile neighbors. Sadly, the era of hope and change obviously doesn’t apply to the Israeli people.