Israel, Jews, and the Obama Administration

obama_netanyahu_3-8-15-1 Can you feel the warmth? President Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Oct 1st, 2014. (Rex Features via AP Images)

Even some Democrats in Congress have come to the conclusion that after the brouhaha over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, President Obama wants to radically downgrade the long American special relationship with democratic Jewish Israel -- and perhaps has a dislike of the idea of Israel. Add up the administration’s initial disparagement on the matter of Israeli settlements, untoward administration remarks during the Gaza War, its assumptions that a future autonomous West Bank had a right to insist on becoming Judenfrei, its downplaying the Iranian nuclear threat, John Kerry’s various editorializing about Israeli supposed overreactions, the constant hectoring of Israel, and rumors of a slowdown in military aid to Israel during the Gaza war, and so on and so on.

These acts seem to fit into a prior landscape of the administration’s anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli supposed slips, gaffes, and smears.

I thought it a bit strange that in 2008 the Obama campaign lobbied the Los Angeles Times not to release a tape of Obama’s remarks at a 2003 dinner honoring Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi when then-state senator Obama supposedly thanked the latter for reminding him of his own “biases” and “blind spots” on the Middle East. Why not just release the innocuous tape I thought. But then again things happen at dinners.

I thought it a bit strange when would-be national security advisor to the 2008 Obama campaign, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hinted that he might think it a good idea to shoot down Israeli jets should they go over U.S.-controlled Iraqi airspace on their way to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities. But then again everyone says strange things now and then.

I thought it a bit strange that Samantha Power would become such a prominent Obama advisor after she hypothesized about sending U.S. forces into the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to keep both sides honest. But then again it is easy to take things out of context. And who, after all, would even envision U.S. and Israeli soldiers shooting at each other?

I thought it a bit strange that Barack Obama’s minister, whose “audacity of hope” sloganeering became the title of Obama’s second book, whined shortly after his former protégé assumed the presidency, “Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me.” But then again one should not fall into the guilt-by-association trap of “birds of a feather flock together.”

I thought it was strange when Obama’s first call as president went to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. But then again I shrugged that his first interview went to the newspaper Al-Arabiya, and he declared a “special relationship” with the virulently anti-Israeli Prime Minister and now President of Turkey Recep Erdogan.

I thought it strange that Obama in 2009 called in Jewish leaders only to lecture on the need to put “daylight” between Israel and the United States. But then I assumed that these leaders did not seem too disturbed about such comments.

I thought it strange when Barack Obama stormed out of a White House meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and left him to stew alone for over an hour. But then again I noted that he was hungry and wanted to step out for a while to dine alone with his family.