So what should we make of the U.S veto of a Security Council resolution on Friday, after which our Ambassador to the U.N. effectively endorsed the very resolution she had vetoed in a sneering attack on Israeli settlements, later compounded by Secretary of State Clinton calling the settlements illegitimate?
Should we consider the net effect of the veto and the condemnation a tie, or something worse? After all, in the sports world," a tie is like kissing your sister," an expression attributed to among others Bear Bryant, Darryl Royal, and Eddie Erdelatz. If diplomats are trained to be subtle, nuanced, and diplomatic, the Obama administration has crossed a line, moving from challenging settlement expansion to declaring the settlements themselves as illegitimate, including Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Perhaps we can get clarity on legitimacy from Mahmoud Abbas, currently serving the 74th month of his 48 month term as President of the Palestinian Authority to which he was elected in January 2005.
In a particularly unskillful way, the U.S managed to irritate Israel and the Palestinians with its performance at the U.N. this week. The U. S. has been irritating Israel for over two years now, obsessed as it has been over settlements, a final status issue under "Oslo," and an issue that had never before prevented the Palestinians from negotiating with Israel. A settlement freeze became the price for the PA even showing up for talks.
The President has made Muslim outreach the key foreign policy initiative of his Administration. That initiative has taken the President to the Middle East region on several occasions, part of his collection of well over 30 countries visited in just over two years in office. Israel, the country that votes with the U.S. at the United Nations more than any other, has not yet earned a visit. Is it any wonder that by a ratio of close to 10 to 1, Israelis think the President is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel? Given that in the United States, a recent Gallup survey shows the ratio is almost exactly reversed -- about ten times as many Americans are pro-Israel as pro-Palestinian, maybe our President would have better luck running for President of the Palestinian Authority when Abbas's term is up, or rather when someone notices that Abbas' term is up. I do not believe that production of a birth certificate is required to run for PA President, either.
When Bill Clinton was President, polls suggested he could have been elected Prime Minister in Israel. One did not need to agree with all of Clinton's policies with regard to Israel ( I didn't) , and yet accept that there was some genuine warmth in U.S relations with Israel during his term in office. So too with President Bush. Clinton made a good faith effort to achieve a peace deal, but there was no deal Yassar Arafat would accept (and there is no deal that Mahmoud Abbas would accept either, of course).
Now we have a President who repeatedly publicly blames Israel for the impasse in peace talks, brings an anti-Israel group (George Soros funded J-Street) into his inner sanctum for meetings with leaders of the American Jewish community, and sends Dennis Ross to their national meeting, and treats Israel's elected Prime Minister with hostility. Of course, Netanyahu and AIPAC, and the ADL are applauding the Security Council veto. They all know, I think, that the President has switched sides in this conflict, and for now at least, they have escaped Obama's wrath at the Jewish state.
Give this man a second term (and really, the record of incompetence is so broad that even if you did not care about Israel, that would be unwise), and all bets are off on what will remain of the U.S Israel relationship. It survived a one term Carter Presidency, but two terms of Obama?
Despite his sympathies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the President does not want to be seen as anti-Israel in the run-up to his re-election run. More than Jewish votes, he needs Jewish campaign cash. Most of the money liberal Jews give to Democrats is not because of the pro-Israel views of Democrats, but because Democrats are liberals. But there is also a line that cannot be crossed. Many liberal Jews need to be able to have a check mark that the Democratic candidate is also good for Israel, issue number 10 or 12 on their agenda.
Is the President pro-Israel? The NJDC and its acolytes, have struggled for two years to twist logic and answer yes, but Jonathan Tobin begs to differ. Joel Fishman on Palestinian incitement, an issue that seems to have slipped from the Administration's consciousness.
Richard Baehr is chief poltiical correspondent of American Thinker.