The Limits Of Obama's Pro-Israel Pronouncements
Enough already. How many times do we Americans in Israel need to hear the ludicrous claims from the Obama administration that, contrary to all perception, this is actually the most pro-Israel administration in history? Or that President Obama's commitment to Israel is "unshakable," even as he repeatedly tests that proposition? Just last week, Obama told Jewish supporters: "This administration -- I try not to pat myself too much on the back -- but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the State of Israel than any previous administration."
Stop laughing; he actually said it with a straight face. In fact, the administration's latest Jewish gambit is a seven-minute online video interspersing Obama speeches with snippets of perfunctory praise for Obama's treatment of Israel (curiously, undated) from Israeli leaders.
The video is the height of chutzpah. It is a cynical ploy (just what are Israel's leaders supposed to say publicly about the sitting U.S. President?) to shore up shaky Jewish donors who support Obama but are uncomfortable with his hostility towards Israel and its elected government-a record punctuated by innumerable calculated insults and public slights demonstrating "daylight" between Obama's America and Israel.
While the blogosphere is abuzz with debate over the fairness of the video, a better question arises: seven minutes? Is that the best this administration can do?
Perhaps it is. Compare those seven minutes to the administration's dressing-down of Israel in Hillary Clinton's publicized 43-minute telephone harangue of PM Netanyahu for announcing construction, specifically exempted from any building freeze, in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem. How many minutes could be filled with senior advisor David Axelrod televised proclamation that President Obama considered the housing approval "an affront, an insult...and very, very destructive"? Or VP Biden's castigating Israel for endangering American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or Clinton's condescending demand that Israel show its commitment to peace by unilaterally conceding negotiating positions and releasing hundreds of Palestinian terrorists even before "indirect" peace talks could begin? Or Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling Israel "an ungrateful ally"?
Would the next seven minutes include new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's chastising Israel to "get back to the damn [negotiating] table? Or holding U.N. support for Israel hostage to Israeli concessions? Or shoving PM Netanyahu out the White House back door, without so much as feeding him dinner, issuing a joint statement or allowing a photo-op? Or, over an open mike, Obama agreeing with French President Sarkozy's statement that "I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar," helpfully adding, "You're fed up, but I have to deal with him every day"? Or pushing Israel to apologize for the Gaza flotilla incident? Or Obama's speech, sandbagging Netanyahu on the eve of his Washington visit, calling on Israel to retreat to the 1949 Armistice line as a starting point for negotiations? Or reneging on the written American commitment to Israel to support retention of major settlement blocs in any peace negotiation?
Conversely, why does no footage exist of Obama unequivocally condemning non-stop anti-Israel incitement by the Palestinian leadership in violation of every agreement from Oslo to the Roadmap? Or official Palestinian glorification of terrorists, including, this week, celebrating the grisly murder of the Fogels and their sleeping little boys and baby girl? Or Palestinians refusing to negotiate at the same "damn table" as the Israelis? Or rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which considers it a religious obligation to destroy Israel? Or Palestinians threatening another intifada? Or the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem -- whose salary comes from American taxpayers -- this week urging Arabs to "fight and kill the Jews"? Or Palestinians firing literally hundreds of rockets from Gaza at the million Israelis living within range?
Obama stakes his dubious claim that "we don't compromise when it comes to Israel's security" on intelligence coordination and the cooperative development of the Iron Dome rocket shield. Those, however, were joint US-Israel defense and intelligence projects initiated by the Bush administration. I'll give Obama credit for not cancelling them like he did other Bush commitments to Israel, but that doesn't exactly merit his "most pro-Israel" boast.
More importantly, all that daylight Obama created between America and Israel has stripped Israel diplomatically, exposing it to an onslaught by a world that does not wish the Jewish State well. Without America's once-reliable protection, it is open season on Israel. Whether the issue is Israeli security, sovereignty, academic and economic boycotts, or the developing Islamist noose encircling Israel's borders, Obama has left Israel twisting in the wind and dangerously isolated. And we haven't even addressed Obama's pathetic efforts to "engage" atomic Iran.
Is Obama well-intentioned but inept? Is he purposely making life difficult for Israel? Practically, does it matter?
This administration has treated Israel more like a punching bag than an ally. For all his self-back-patting, Obama has pushed Israel into its most precarious position in decades. After three years, perhaps it's time for an administration whose pro-Israel record will last more than seven minutes.
The writer is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.