The Atlantic Interview: Obama Rewrites His Record on Israel

At the General Assembly, the president’s speech of 2010 specifically planted in the minds of every listener and fueled a September 2011 date for a “state of Palestine” becoming “a new member of the United Nations.” Moreover, President Obama devoted more than a third of his entire General Assembly statement focusing on what Israel should and should not do, knowing full well that the deadly Arab narrative is that the failure to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict on their terms is the root cause of Islamic fanaticism and violence. In other words, it was the president himself who used his speech in the UN forum as a pressure tactic against the state of Israel.

On the flotilla of Turkish-backed extremists who attempted to violate Israel’s lawful blockade of Hamas-run Gaza, the Obama administration extraordinarily permitted the Security Council to adopt a presidential statement within 24 hours of the event. The statement cast the flotilla participants as humanitarians, was silent on Israel’s legitimate concerns about arms-smuggling, and made no mention of Hamas at all. Without taking any time to ensure the facts were at hand, the Council unanimously agreed to a UN investigation of the Israel Defense Forces which the United States would never have legitimized for American armed forces in similar -- or in fact any -- circumstances.

And as for Iran, President Obama’s use of the United Nations has moved the country in only one direction -- inexorably closer to obtaining nuclear weapons. President Obama was the first U.S. president to preside over a meeting of the UN Security Council in September 2009, and he personally took the opportunity of controlling the Council agenda to tie nuclear non-proliferation together with nuclear disarmament. His move had the predictable effect of setting back non-proliferation efforts by giving Iran one more excuse to delay, while disarming America moved to center stage. The sanctions regime belatedly adopted by the Council has been an incontrovertible failure.

At rock bottom, the president’s interview makes one claim more poisonous to Israel’s welfare than all others. He argues that if Israel uses military force against Iranian nuclear sites, then the timeline for any negative consequences will start with Israel -- not Iran. Obama urges Netanyahu to think about “the profound costs of any military action,” places the focus on “potential unintended consequences” of Israel’s actions, and describes the move as libel to be a “distraction in which Iran suddenly can portray itself as the victim.”

This is not the statement of an ally at a turning point in world history, with the most dangerous country on Earth on the verge of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon. Israel’s actions would be taken in self-defense. They would not be the starting point. Israel and the civilized world, in the crosshairs of this leading state sponsor of terrorism and its genocidal ambitions, are the real victims and any claim to the contrary would be a lie -- not a distraction. To suggest that Israel will be responsible for the economic costs of seriously slowing or ending Iran’s race towards nuclear weapons places the shoe exactly on the wrong foot, and diminishes the much higher cost of Iranian victory.

The president’s miscalculation on Iran is of epic proportion. He even describes the Iranian leadership to Goldberg this way: “they’re sensitive to the opinions of the people.” The freedom-loving people of Iran who are rotting in Iranian torture chambers are undoubtedly as mortified by this claim as are the people of Israel and its supporters across America. The very unfortunate reality is that Israel may be forced to save America and the civilized world because this commander-in-Chief is AWOL. Israel has America’s back, not the other way around.

In his interview, President Obama worried that Republicans are trying to “drive a wedge … between Barack Obama and a Jewish American vote.” They don’t have to, Mr. President. You can take credit for the mile-wide gulf all yourself.