Sderot and Afterwards
I recall in July 2008 watching candidate Obama’s sympathetic address to the rocket-battered residents of the town of Sderot in southern Israel, in which he declared “an unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security” -- and being appalled by his performance. Judging from his body language, something furtive in his gestures, and the smarmy, brackish diction and rhetoric that have since made it impossible for me to listen to an Obama speech without grinding my teeth, it seemed clear that Obama was lying with every ostensibly heartfelt word. My “reading” of Obama’s disingenuousness, however, was plainly not shared by the troupe of Israeli officials earnestly bustling about and an audience filled with respect and enthusiasm for their artfully sincere guest.
How things have changed. The presidential aspirant who swore in Sderot that he would not let his daughters be terrorized by incoming missiles -- “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing” -- is now “outraged” by Israeli defensive actions jeopardizing Gaza civilians in the current Hamas-initiated conflict, regardless of preliminary warnings of impending strikes to eliminate or reduce civilian casualties. Obama appears oblivious to the terrorists’ recruiting their own citizens as human shields, conducting rocket and mortar launches from residential areas, occupying hospitals as command centers, and using UNRWA schools as missile-storage facilities.
He now allows the FAA to suspend flights to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, resulting in the crippling of the Israeli economy; places a limit on arms shipments to the IDF; and instructs his secretary of state, the lamentable John Kerry, to confer with jihadist-loving, anti-Israel regimes like Turkey and Qatar to broker a ceasefire on terms favorable to Hamas.
Obama’s 2008 histrionics were bad enough, but the jubilant acclaim with which his speech was greeted by Israelis, Zionists, American Jews, and liberal voters was no less distressing. I said to a Jewish friend, an academic with strong left-wing proclivities, who was swooning with delight at Obama’s suave assurances, “Don’t trust this man for a second,” and was duly accused of cynicism and conservative bile.
I think now of Alan Dershowitz, who looked into the president’s eyes, as Bush looked into Putin’s, and saw a trustworthy soul gazing back at him. “I am confident,” Dershowitz wrote, “that President Obama will keep his promise ‘always [to] have Israel's back’ in the face of the continuing threats posed by Israel's enemies.” It is mind-boggling how people, even intelligent people, appear so desperate to believe in fictions and illusions that valorize their cherished sense of social generosity, aquiline political insight, groundless hope and natal compassion that they cannot distinguish an indefeasible truth from a glaring lie, or tell the difference between a messiah and a confidence man. As for my pro-Obama academic friend, he has been monumentally silent of late (though Dershowitz, in the fullness of his naivete, is still intent on pursuing hallucinations, regarding himself as “a supporter of Obama” despite his expediently revised assessment of the president’s policy toward Israel).
The Sderot episode seems a kind of epiphany of the president’s future actions vis-à-vis Israel, and indeed of his fecklessness and treacherous behavior toward America’s allies and fervent embrace of its avowed enemies, not to mention his fundamental disreputableness as a national leader.
Anyone who has monitored Obama’s conduct from the early stages of his career; wondered about the mysteriously sealed records; followed without preconceptions the ongoing controversy over the validity of his credentials; mused about his preference for golf and fund-raising over statecraft; contemplated his tendency to govern by executive decree or remarked on his serial breaking of laws (the arbitrary amending of “Obamacare,” itself a perversion of the body social and possibly illegal in toto, the Bergdahl/Taliban swap which the General Accounting Office has cited for two violations of legality, etc.); pondered his reluctance to secure the southern border, across which criminals, diseased refugees, and Islamic terrorists are free to enter the country; and compared his words to his actions, noting a discrepancy so vast one could fit the entire nation into the chasm -- anyone who has done all this should by this time be aware that the man who sits in the Oval Office is a president in name only and a blight upon the nation.
Yet even now when the presumably soaring cadences seem flat as gravy on a plate, and the lies are demonstrably tripping over themselves with reckless abandon, Obama still retains, according to the polls, a 40% approval rating. Many commentators have pointed out that such numbers are alarmingly low, and signify his declining impact and prestige. Perhaps it is time to think again. What this figure shows is that, after six years of racial divisiveness, political incompetence, massive foreign policy blunders, endemic deception, unabashed cronyism, a veritable plague of scandals, systemic unemployment and astronomical debt, four out of ten Americans continue to support or give the benefit of the doubt to a man who is arguably the greatest nemesis that America faces today, a man who will “transform” their country into a socialist dystopia and an international laughing stock if he is not checked.
That the Harry Reids and Nancy Pelosis, the “progressivist” institutions, and the radical wing of the Democratic Party remain among his staunchest advocates is no surprise -- he is, of course, the embodiment of their ideological fantasies as well as their meal-ticket. That entitlement recipients are enamored of their president is also understandable -- he is their meal-ticket too, even if it doesn’t include fine-dining and cabaret perks. Nevertheless, in any sane and responsible society, Obama’s approval rating should now be in single digits, and sinking fast. Forty percent is indeed an alarming figure -- far too high.
The great majority of Israelis and the more prudent diaspora Jews, who once fell for Obama’s Sderot burlesque -- the dramaturgy was admittedly slick and convincing to those who so passionately wanted to believe -- have awakened to this virulent travesty of a president. But there really is no excuse any longer for that 40% of American citizens who have all the evidence before them of a president who rarely, if ever, tells the truth and who represents only himself, his personal interests and doctrinaire convictions, his partisans, and, yes, what is all too often the case, America’s enemies.
The cozy relations with Turkey and Qatar, the funding of Hamas, the empowering of the Muslim Brotherhood, not only in Egypt but in the sensitive echelons of his own administration, the failed “reset” with a resurgent Russia that is expanding its malign influence in the Caucasus and the Middle East, together with the legion of broken promises that has become Obama’s trademark, should be more than enough to persuade any American whose brains, to quote David Horowitz, are not “stuffed with ideological fairy dust” that Israel is not some faraway country with no bearing on the security or prospects of the U.S.
It has rightly been said that Israel is on the front lines of the war against Islamic terror and Muslim supremacism, serving as America’s advance guard. But the front lines are migrating homeward. In effect, America is Israel writ large, hated and reviled by multitudes, the economic and geopolitical target of hostile nations, and riddled with Islamic sleeper cells and lone jihadists waiting for the opportunity to create havoc. And Sderot, in one way or another, despite the svelte and consoling pronouncements of a rogue president, is the plausible future of many American cities.