by Naomi Ragen
July 28th, 2012
I have never felt more challenged than I did four years ago when I did my best to enlighten my American list-members to some of the dangers of hopping on presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama’s bandwagon. But nothing swayed his Jewish supporters: not the fact that he had radical left-wing political mentors, nor his Islamic heritage and education, nor even his close 20-year relationship with the virulently anti-Semitic Reverend Jeremiah Wright. They weren’t even worried about his anti-Israel advisers, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Simon Malley and Samantha Power, who once suggested the US invade Israel.
In fact, the response of my staunchly pro-Israel list to these revelations astounded me: “As a Jew, I am offended by what you have written about Barack Obama… You are tedious and unwelcome in the lives of Americans who are hopeful for the change that is due us,” wrote Susan.
“We wish no harm to our homeland, but we live in another country,” wrote Judi. “We too have issues of importance. I cannot believe for a moment that Senator Obama would place Israel in a position of harm.”
“This is my home first, and if I don’t protect my back yard I will lose my ability to further support Israel. You need to do a reality check,” wrote Robert.
“Obama knows how important Israel is and will most likely be more a champion to Israel than McCain,” wrote Samuel. Over a thousand of my American list-members wrote nothing at all, simply unsubscribing to my list in silent protest to my anti- Obama stance.
I tried to understand them. During his campaign, Obama promised an “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security” and “support for secure, recognized, defensible borders.” “Israel’s security,” he told numerous Jewish groups, “is sacrosanct.”
Unlike some of my Jewish list members, Hamas spokesman Ahmed Yousef wasn’t
convinced: “If Obama wins the election… I do believe he will change the American foreign policy in the way they are handling the Middle East,” he told WABC radio host John Batchelor and World Net Daily’s Aaron Klein. It turns out that he was right and the Jews who voted for him were wrong.
Obama is hoping that this time around his Jewish voters won’t remember that.
“If during the political season you hear some question of my administration’s support for Israel, remember, it’s not backed up by the facts,” Obama, as president, told the 71st General Assembly of the Union of Reform Judaism on December 16, 2011.
Really? Well, let’s review the facts, especially given the short memories of most voters.
Obama began his administration by reaching out to Muslims, giving his first formal interview to Al-Arabiya. Next, he bowed deeply to the King of Saudi Arabia and visited Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, skipping Israel. He used fulfilling his promise of giving his first foreign policy address in an Arab capital to distance America from Israel: “The US does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
It is time for these settlements to stop,” he told cheering crowds in Cairo.
But worse was still to come. “The aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered.”
By adopting the rhetoric of Arab anti-Semites that the desire of the Jews to live in their homeland started with the Holocaust and has no other roots, Obama, in the words of Charles Krauthammer, “In three minutes… did more to delegitimize the existence of Israel than any president in American history.”
Worse, comparing what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust to the treatment of Palestinians under Israeli rule was downright despicable. Or “outrageous and embarrassing,” according to Oklahoma’s Senator James Inhofe.
Obama followed up with an incessant campaign questioning Israel’s desire for peace. We, who lived through two intifadas, who saw our families and friends and neighbors blown to bits to satisfy the world’s desire to see Israel “make sacrifices” for a fake peace, were horrified. Obama lectured Israeli leaders that they “must engage in serious self-reflection on their commitment to peace.”
The absolute gall!
Obama went one further, adopting the old Arab demand that Israel cease building on any land claimed by Palestinians, refusing to understand that if Israel did that, there would be nothing left to negotiate.
“Settlements have to be stopped,” Obama said, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton relentlessly echoed: “He wants to see a stop in settlements, not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”
Under Obama, American foreign policy adopted the nonsensical idea that all Middle East conflicts would be solved if only Israel gave in to Palestinian demands. In this fantasy, the incessant brainwashing of Palestinian children to hate and kill, the atom bomb in Iran, the murderous control of Gaza by Hamas, which denies any solution short of pushing Jews into the sea, were not allowed in, nor was the fact that the disengagement from Gaza resulted not in peace, but in terrorist bomb-launchers replacing Jewish lettuce growers.
The incessant demands of the Obama administration on Israel were never balanced by equal demands on Palestinians. This carte blanche led not to peace, but to increasing Palestinian intransigence.
After all, how could President Mahmoud Abbas allow himself to be seen as less hawkish than Obama? Indeed, Netanyahu’s capitulation to American demands by declaring a 10-month settlement freeze did not bring Abbas to the negotiating table.
It simply whetted his appetite. The sky, it seemed, was the limit.
Abbas was proven right during the March 2010 visit of Vice President Joe Biden. When building plans for Ramat Shlomo, already a large neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, were announced, the Americans inexplicably exploded.
Hillary Clinton called it “insulting,” even though Jerusalem had never been under a settlement freeze. The Israeli envoy to the US said that US-Israel ties were the worst they’d been in 35 years. At the very time Israel was being lambasted as an obstacle to peace, Mahmoud Abbas was publicly honoring the terrorists of the 1978 coastal road massacre which took 37 Israeli lives, with never a peep out of the White House – a fact not lost on Abbas, who continued to refuse to negotiate with Israel during the entire 10-month settlement freeze.
No matter. While Netanyahu got shuffled into side doors at the White House and Obama refused to dine with him, Abbas was an honored guest with photo ops and a smiling president gifting him with an extra hundred million dollars to build “environmental housing” for Palestinians.
This attitude of the US administration had a domino effect on other Arab countries. Turkey, with whom Israel had always had warm relations, thousands of Israeli tourists filling Antalya hotels, suddenly turned hostile. Headed by its new Islamist Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, called affectionately by Obama his “closest friend in the Middle East,” it sent six ships to break Israel’s legitimate sea blockade of terrorist Gaza, including one with armed terrorists who met Israeli soldiers with knives and clubs, stabbing, beating and throwing them overboard.
Yet even before investigating, the US refused to veto the Turkish resolution condemning Israel. A furious US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta demanded Israel “restore good relations with Egypt and Turkey,” while former defense secretary Robert Gates called Israel “an ungrateful ally harming American interests.”
In the spring of 2011, Obama said: “We believe in borders based on the 1967 lines,” finally breaking all precedents of previous US administrations, which recognized that the 1967 lines were not defensible borders but simply armistice lines where the guns had stopped.
Obama’s support for indefensible borders, sometimes called “the lines of Auschwitz,” is yet another open wound, as is the attempt of Abbas to bypass negotiations with Israel, unite with Hamas and bring his case for statehood directly to the terror-friendly UN. Moreover, Obama’s timid pussyfooting with Iran has given it the time to purify enough fuel for five atom bombs, all proof positive that the Obama administration has pushed the Middle East further from peace than ever.
As summed up by Liz Cheney: “There is no president who has done more to delegitimize and undermine the State of Israel than President Barack Obama.”
And for those American Jews who say they have an obligation to put America first, how’s that working for you so far with Obama heading the nation? In this coming election, Israeli and American interests seem to coincide. Obama managed to do so much harm while taking more vacations and playing more golf than any other president in US history.
I shudder to think what another four years might bring.
This article was published in the Jerusalem Post on 27 July 2012.