Obama, Israel, and Iran

Last Saturday, while the nation's attention was focused on health care, President Obama sent New Year greetings to Iran that contained a promise our ally Israel would envy.

Although he condemned the Iranian regime's belligerence toward the international community and murderous crackdown on pro-democracy activists, Obama pledged that his administration "does not meddle in Iran's internal affairs." (This echoed the non-interference theme of his celebrated Cairo speech, when he assured the Muslim world, "America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.")

Not long ago, the concept of "evenhandedness" between our democratic allies and terror-sponsoring regimes was widely considered a betrayal of our most fundamental values. Yet, incredible as it sounds, evenhandedness now would be an improvement. Imagine Prime Minister Netanyahu requesting of Obama, in their Tuesday meeting, that the US apply its "Iran standard" of no internal meddling to Israel's housing decisions. Imagine Obama seeing the logic and basic decency of such a request, and agreeing to it.

Evenhandedness would dictate that Obama greet Netanyahu by bowing down to him, as he did to the Saudi king, after which Netanyahu would ask for and receive a promise that "America does not meddle in Israel's internal affairs." Unfortunately, there is virtually no chance of obtaining the same assurance granted to Iran.

Yet it's also true that Obama made a profoundly valuable promise to Israel in 2008: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." Never mind that he reversed himself two days later; this was a solemn vow on a life-and-death issue, and as the President himself has emphasized, "Don't tell me words don't matter." Netanyahu and other Israeli officials could help their cause immeasurably by repeating Obama's pledge like a mantra in every speech and interview.

Obama's pledge to Iran on Saturday reveals the administration as unaware of -- or simply unconcerned about -- the inexplicable double standard it applies to Israel alone. Oddly enough, his next major order of business is likely to be the Schumer-Graham legislation to grant amnesty to millions of people who are "illegal settlers" in the truest sense of the term. Regardless of the pros and cons of granting them legal status, it is unlikely Obama will realize the irony when he leads the amnesty-for-illegals fight while continuing to condemn lawful construction in Jerusalem.
Last Saturday, while the nation's attention was focused on health care, President Obama sent New Year greetings to Iran that contained a promise our ally Israel would envy.

Although he condemned the Iranian regime's belligerence toward the international community and murderous crackdown on pro-democracy activists, Obama pledged that his administration "does not meddle in Iran's internal affairs." (This echoed the non-interference theme of his celebrated Cairo speech, when he assured the Muslim world, "America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.")

Not long ago, the concept of "evenhandedness" between our democratic allies and terror-sponsoring regimes was widely considered a betrayal of our most fundamental values. Yet, incredible as it sounds, evenhandedness now would be an improvement. Imagine Prime Minister Netanyahu requesting of Obama, in their Tuesday meeting, that the US apply its "Iran standard" of no internal meddling to Israel's housing decisions. Imagine Obama seeing the logic and basic decency of such a request, and agreeing to it.

Evenhandedness would dictate that Obama greet Netanyahu by bowing down to him, as he did to the Saudi king, after which Netanyahu would ask for and receive a promise that "America does not meddle in Israel's internal affairs." Unfortunately, there is virtually no chance of obtaining the same assurance granted to Iran.

Yet it's also true that Obama made a profoundly valuable promise to Israel in 2008: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." Never mind that he reversed himself two days later; this was a solemn vow on a life-and-death issue, and as the President himself has emphasized, "Don't tell me words don't matter." Netanyahu and other Israeli officials could help their cause immeasurably by repeating Obama's pledge like a mantra in every speech and interview.

Obama's pledge to Iran on Saturday reveals the administration as unaware of -- or simply unconcerned about -- the inexplicable double standard it applies to Israel alone. Oddly enough, his next major order of business is likely to be the Schumer-Graham legislation to grant amnesty to millions of people who are "illegal settlers" in the truest sense of the term. Regardless of the pros and cons of granting them legal status, it is unlikely Obama will realize the irony when he leads the amnesty-for-illegals fight while continuing to condemn lawful construction in Jerusalem.

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