Obama is Fooling Lots of People on Israel
Commentary is a wonderful source of information and analysis, and Seth Mandel who is with Commentary is a gifted writer and a great thinker. That's why I was dismayed when I read the title of his article on Thursday: "Obama Still Not Fooling Anyone on Israel." That is absolutely not true.
After reading the article, I wondered how someone could choose such an inaccurate title. As usual, Mandel's analysis and conclusions are impeccable:
Under the previous two administrations-one Democratic, one Republican-the Israeli right, left, and center have all signed agreements, made final-status offers, or led Israel to make unprecedented sacrifices for the peace process. As Yossi Klein Halevi wrote recently: "Israelis still recall with disbelief how Obama refused to honor Bush's written commitment to Ariel Sharon-that the U.S. would support settlement blocs being incorporated into Israel proper. And never has an American president treated an Israeli prime minister with such shabbiness as Obama has treated Netanyahu. Indeed one gets the impression that of all the world's leaders, Obama most detests the prime minister of Israel."
Read that last sentence again and understand why it matters that Obama thinks less of Israel than his predecessors did, and why he has failed both the Israelis and the Palestinians because of it.
President Obama is fooling lots of people. You can't read about what is taking place on college campuses across America, including Harvard, and not know that there are lots of intelligent people in this country who think that President Obama is heading in the right direction but that he's not moving fast enough. You can't read the transcript of the speech that David Horowitz gave at the University of North Carolina a few days ago during which roughly 40 members of the audience, "most of them members of the Muslim Students Association and Students for Justice in Palestine, supporters of Hamas marched out on a pre-arranged cue," and not know that President Obama is fooling people. You can't read a local newspaper in this country and not understand that people all across America are beginning to question our commitment to Israel, and those who feel that way tend to be Obama supporters.
A couple of years ago, my Israeli daughter, Noam Avraham, stayed with me and my wife for a few weeks as she was transitioning from the IDF to university. Noam is not my biological daughter. She lived with my wife and me for several months while she was in high school, and we love her as though she was our daughter, but that's another story.
Noam was interested in electronics, so we took her to visit MIT. While we were there, we stopped for lunch in a student cafeteria that featured a food court with an international cuisine. Noam wanted a falafel, so we ordered one from a Palestinian man who told us that he was from Jerusalem. I introduced him to Noam and told him that she was about to enter college having just completed her IDF tour. Without hesitation, he looked at Noam and said, "Have you killed any Palestinians today?" He wasn't smiling when he asked that question.
I wanted to jerk him off his feet, drag him across the counter, and introduce him to some down-home hospitality Southern style, but I didn't. I'm a college professor, and educated people don't do that. We simply ordered our falafels, took a seat, and went on with our business. Why do you think that man is here in the U.S. at MIT selling falafels? Don't you realize that so-called "Palestinians" have been infiltrating the U.S. at every level of our society for years, and subtly they have been influencing the American people?
I taught a Palestinian from Hebron in one of my leadership classes at the University of Virginia. He didn't miss an opportunity to impugn Israel. Thankfully, I have spent a lot of time in Israel, and I have a good grasp of the situation there so I was able to counter his offenses. But what if I had not known the facts? What would the class have thought if their professor had allowed blatant falsehoods to go uncontested? Our country has been invaded; although most people here support Israel, people who support the "Palestinian cause" are trying to change that; and most U.S. citizens who are pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel are Obama supporters.
As fickle as the mood of the public is, it pays to take nothing for granted. Our country could turn against Israel in a heartbeat under the right set of circumstances, and President Obama is leading that effort at the periphery right now. He can't use a frontal assault because that would be political suicide at this juncture, but he can nibble away at the edges and that's what he's doing. If he's reelected, he won't have to worry about being elected again so he can do even more.
I have this word of advice for Seth Mandel. If I were you, I would talk with my editor about that title. It is dangerously wrong.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.