Israel, Jews, and the Obama Administration
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.
I thought it strange that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would leak the fact that for 43 minutes -- not 42 or 44 -- she berated Prime Minister Netanyahu about settlements on the West Bank. But then who really counts minutes on the phone?
I thought it a bit strange that Al Sharpton became Obama’s chief contact with the African-American community and a habitual visitor to the Oval Office, given that he has a long history of anti-Semitism slurs, highlighted by eerie quotes like "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house!” But then again, I wrote that off as just another Jesse Jackson-like Hymietown off-the-cuff quote.
I thought it strange that Obama trashed the Israeli prime minister in an open-mic putdown. But then I note that so did French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and thus so what?
I thought it strange when Obama’s ambassador to Belguim seemed to justify Islamic anti-Semitism as if it were the fault of Jews in Israel: “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians…an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.” But then I note that ambassadors are often not an impressive bunch.
I thought it strange that aides to the president in unattributed remarks would smear the combat veteran Netanyahu as both a “coward” and “a chickensh-t.” But then again, who knows what is actually said off the record?
I thought it strange that after radical Islamic terrorists deliberately targeted a Jewish Kosher market in Paris to kill Jews the president would characterize the attacks cavalierly and inaccurately as terrorists who “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” I thought all that strange -- and yet perhaps the pattern now not so strange.
After six years, all this -- and far more examples -- makes perfect sense. There is only one pattern to supposed gaffes and slips: they always go against the state of Israel and give the benefit of the doubt to its numerous enemies. The administration’s words about Israel naturally explain its deeds, and then again its deeds its words: Barack Obama is not and has never been fond of Israel, both the reasoning for its existence and the vigilance necessary for its continuance.
It’s time Americans accept this radical detour from 70 years of American foreign policy. It is what it is -- and it is far from over yet.