Op-Ed: Obama: Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me
Matthew M. Hausman, Att'yMatthew M. Hausman is a trial attorney and writer who lives and works in Connecticut. A former journalist, Mr. Hausman continues to write on a variety of topics, including science, health and medicine, Jewish issues and foreign affairs, and has been a legal affairs columnist for a number of publications.
Eighty percent of American Jews voted for Barack Obama four years ago, despite his associations with anti-Semites and anti-Israel hatemongers. Mainstream leaders knew of his friendships with Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said, but proclaimed him good for Israel nonetheless.
From the “Rabbis for Obama,” to Congressional Jewish Democrats, to the usual assortment of Hollywood activists, the fawning chorus sang about his affinity for Israel despite troubling evidence to the contrary. They were unbothered by his 20-year affiliation with an anti-Semitic church, his political alliance with the Nation of Islam in Chicago, his doublespeak to AIPAC about his commitment to an indivisible Jerusalem, and his cagey silence regarding Israel during his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate.
And now, after several years of policies that have facilitated the rise of Islamist regimes, enabled Iran’s nuclear ambitions, excused doctrinal Jew-hatred, and compromised Israel’s security and national integrity, polls suggest that nearly 60% are likely to vote for him again. When Mr. Obama’s Jewish supporters discuss his treatment of Israel, they offer platitudes that are short on facts; and when they mention his relationships with characters like Wright and Khalidi, it’s to assure us that they were fully vetted in 2008 and, thus, should be of no concern to voters today. In truth, though, his dubious associations were never investigated, but instead were ignored by a partisan media that shielded its chosen candidate from any unpleasant controversy.
Although a Republican’s involvement in a white supremacist church would certainly be front-page news, the press glossed over Mr. Obama’s longstanding membership in Wright’s congregation and refused to question his relationships with demagogues and bigots. To this day, the LA Times refuses to release video of Mr. Obama at an event sponsored by anti-Israel Palestinians, where he reportedly toasted Mr. Khalidi, a friend from his Chicago days, whose negative views and writings on Israel are well-known.
These relationships should have provided insight into the man’s character and beliefs, but they were consistently ignored – as has been his contemptuous treatment of the Jewish State since his first days in office. Despite Mr. Obama’s adversarial relationship with Israel, Jewish Democrats continue to parrot his unfounded claims of support, which he compulsively spouts before any Jewish audience.
At AIPAC’s annual convention last October, the President said: “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.”
This address was part of a calculated attempt to shore up Jewish support for his campaign, so some hyperbole was certainly expected. But what he failed to mention is that American strategic support for Israel during his administration is part of an ongoing, ten-year commitment made by President Bush in 2007 and supported by Congress; it is not the fruit of his own policies, which have been overtly hostile.
His actual record consists of bullying Israel over so-called settlements, obsequiously courting an Arab- Muslim world that rejects western values, and delegitimizing Israel by persistently using the propaganda-laden term “occupation” to describe her dominion over much of her territory, including Jerusalem, and refusing to acknowledge the Jews’ historical connection to their ancient homeland.
Vice President Biden continued this revisionist public relations farce when he proclaimed in May that: “No President since Harry Truman has done more for Israel’s physical security than Barack Obama.” In stating thus, Mr. Biden displayed selective amnesia concerning his own role in the Ramat Shlomo crisis, which the administration created by labeling Jewish North Jerusalem a “settlement” and calling for a construction freeze that was not even contemplated under the Oslo Accords. This manufactured crisis was emblematic of Mr. Obama’s pattern of characterizing residential areas as settlements, demanding that Israel cease construction, and then chastising her for supposedly impeding peace by continuing to build on Jewish soil.
Interestingly, Mr. Obama has never criticized illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem or elsewhere – which is widespread – or condemned the Arab-Muslim rejectionism and doctrinal antisemitism that long preceded the existence of any “settlements.”
Unfortunately, the President has many enablers in the mainstream media and among Congressional Jewish Democrats, including the party’s National Committee Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D. Florida), who stated that, “[t]he president has a rock-solid record on Israel.”
If Rep. Wasserman-Schultz and liberal establishment organizations really believed this, they would not have pleaded publicly with pro-Israel groups and rival Republicans to refrain from making Israel a “wedge issue” during this election cycle. It would have been unnecessary to attempt to quell critical discussion of Mr. Obama’s policies regarding Israel and the Mideast if they believed he could stand on his record.
An examination of Mr. Obama’s statements and policies suggests that, contrary to the claims of his apologists, he has been the most hostile president towards Israel since Jimmy Carter. From the beginning of his administration, he has advocated a revisionist Palestinian narrative based on myth and a denial Jewish history. Rather than acknowledge the incongruity of Palestinian claims to a country that never existed in a land with an undeniably Jewish provenance, he used his Cairo speech in 2009 to reinforce the canard that Israel exists only because of European guilt over the Holocaust, which he then compared to the Palestinian situation. In this speech he negated Jewish history, delegitimized ancestral Jewish claims, and reinforced the fantasy that Palestinian “suffering” is equivalent to genocide.
Since then, he has continued to target “settlements” as the source of conflict – all the while ignoring that Arab- Muslim rejectionism long preceded their existence and that nobody sought a Palestinian state during the 19 years when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were illegally controlled by Jordan and Egypt. .
Mr. Obama sounded similar themes when he spoke in Turkey earlier in 2009, where his policies have reinforced an Islamist regime, and at the United Nations in 2010, where he refused to condemn Arab-Muslim antisemitism before the body most responsible for facilitating its spread.
Most egregious was his May 2011 State Department speech, which advanced the discredited theory of “linkage” (which holds that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the root of all geopolitical problems in the Mideast), and in which he called on Israel to retreat to indefensible 1949 armistice lines and negotiate an Arab “right of return.” In this speech the President demanded nothing of the Palestinians, and even equivocated on whether Hamas is a terrorist organization. His defenders claimed that these positions were no different from those of prior administrations, but in fact no other President ever made such outrageous demands of Israel.
The President has set a most unfriendly tone in his speeches and public pronouncements, and his attempts to intimidate Israel by word, deed and omission leave little doubt that he has no respect or empathy for the Jewish State, and no regard for her historical integrity. It is astounding that so many Jews who claim to hold Israel dear can continue to support a president whose record is marked by slight after gaffe after snub, and which includes the following lowlights, among many others.
* Since his inauguration, Mr. Obama has travelled to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where he has made revisionist speeches and bowed to a foreign king; yet he has never visited Israel, America’s only stable, reliable ally in the region.
* He has compared the Palestinians’ circumstances to the Holocaust, though they are not the victims of genocide and although Arabs in Israel and the territories enjoy the highest standard of living of any Arab population in the Mideast as measured by income, literacy, longevity and low infant mortality. (The same could not be said of Jews who perished during the Holocaust or, for that matter, who lived as dhimmis under Sharia law in the Arab-Muslim world.)
* He has demanded unprecedented concessions from Israel but none from the Palestinians, and has publicly lectured Jewish leaders that “Israelis must engage in self-reflection,” as if to imply that they are not committed to the search for peace. Glaringly, he has never commented on the need for Palestinian “self-reflection.”
* He does not criticize the Palestinians for the anti-Semitic and anti-western materials included in their school curricula, or the Palestinian Authority for failing to amend its charter calling for Israel’s destruction.
* He has made Israeli construction freezes preconditions for peace talks, though they were never required under any negotiating framework, not even Oslo, or by U.N. Resolution 242.
It is astounding that so many Jews who claim to hold Israel dear can continue to support a president whose record is marked by slight after gaffe after snub.
* He repudiated a letter sent by President Bush to Ariel Sharon on April 14, 2004, which underscored America’s commitment to “final status” negotiations that would take into account “new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, [and that] it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” This letter was endorsed by nearly unanimous resolutions in both Houses of Congress, and Sharon relied on its assurances in deciding to disengage from Gaza in 2005. Nevertheless, in his State Department speech last year Mr. Obama demanded indefensible borders based on the armistice lines, which Abba Eban famously described as “Auschwitz” borders.
* In the name of restraint he discourages Israel from responding to any provocations or acts of terror – no matter how deadly – but has never demanded restraint of the Palestinians. Neither has he publicly rebuked them for continuing to engage in terrorism.
* He was silent when Mahmoud Abbas announced that the PA will never recognize Israel as a Jewish State. This declaration of non-recognition was stated at the fifth convention of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, which “affirm[ed] its rejection of the so-called Jewish state, or any other formula that could achieve this goal.” Abbas has repeated this rejectionist vow numerous times since, and the Obama White House has never challenged him.
* The President has lauded the PA as moderate, both directly and through his proxies Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, despite its commitment to non-recognition, its glorification of terrorists who kill Jews, and its unity pact with Hamas.
* He failed to comment when Abbas and the PA publicly honored Amin al-Hindi, the mastermind behind the 1972 Munich Massacre. (Abbas, who was known as Abu Mazen at the time, reportedly was the PLO operative who helped secure funding for the terrorist attack that killed 11 Israeli Olympic athletes.)
* Mr. Obama was silent when the PA renamed a public square in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the Fatah terrorist who killed 37 Israeli civilians in 1978. The PA honored this murderer one day after five members of an Israeli family, the Fogels, were killed by Palestinian terrorists. The only time any administration official condemned the apotheosis of Mughrabi was when Hillary Clinton appeared before AIPAC in 2010 and falsely claimed that it was Hamas, not the PA, which had publicly honored this terrorist.
* During a state visit by Israeli officials, Mr. Obama attempted to humiliate Prime Minister Netanyahu by forcing him to enter the White House through a service entrance, deliberately serving non-kosher food to his retinue and refusing to dine with him. The President later implied that if Mr. Netanyahu could not resolve the conflict, a “peace plan” would be imposed on Israel.
* After insulting Mr. Netanyahu, the President hosted Abbas at the White House and, despite the latter’s continuing incitement and unity government with Hamas, increased American assistance to the PA by $70 million.
* During the Gaza Flotilla fiasco, Turkey sponsored U.N. resolutions condemning Israel and calling for an international inquiry, which Mr. Obama refused to veto. Instead, he attempted to pressure Israel to apologize to Turkey for casualties on board the flotilla, though it was shown that Israeli commandos acted in self- defense after being attacked first, and that many of the “activists” on board were actually armed terrorists. The President never criticized the Turkish IHH for its links to Hamas, but imperiously demanded that Israel take responsibility for mending fences with the Turks, Egyptians and Palestinians.
* Mr. Obama refused to criticize Abbas when he gave a U.N. speech denying the Jews’ historical connection to the Land of Israel, and during which he stood before a regional map from which Israel had been erased. According to many observers, Obama’s disparagement of Jewish claims and embrace of the Palestinian narrative encouraged Abbas’s quest for U.N. recognition.
* He has consistently minimized Israeli concerns about Iran, and has employed a policy of “engagement” that has only enabled Iran in advancing its nuclear ambitions. The failure to employ real containment measures has provided Iran with time and cover to bring more centrifuges online and enrich copious reserves of uranium.
* He has legitimized the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups after facilitating their political fortunes by: mishandling the so-called Arab Spring; ignoring their genocidal goals; and calling on Israel to negotiate with them despite their charters calling for her destruction.
As it did four years ago, the media has continued to protect Mr. Obama, going so far as to dub him “the first Jewish president” to imply a false affinity with Jewish values. This observation is absurd given his record of belittling Jewish historical claims, and considering that the only Jews he embraces politically are those on the left who themselves denigrate Israeli sovereignty and traditional values. Mr. Obama’s true feelings were exposed in his inopportune, open-microphone remarks disparaging Mr. Netanyahu to former French Prime Minister Sarkozy.
Those Jews who continue to support the President despite such displays of malice and hostility are only deluding themselves.
Or maybe they’re not. Perhaps, despite all their claims of devotion to Israel, they really don’t care about her safety, integrity and continuity as a Jewish state. That certainly seemed to be the case in Florida on May 15th during a debate involving the Palm Beach County Democratic Chairman and Tom Trento, a Christian Zionist. In justifying his continuing support for the President, the Democratic spokesman implied that Mr. Obama’s policies are consistent with Jewish values, which he equated with social justice as defined by liberal ideology. In the final analysis, commitment to Israel for him seemed beside the point, as he stated to the crowd: “There is more to this election than merely Israel.” (Debate highlights can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watchv=Ds-pSs6JA8g.)
If one accepts the premise that liberalism is synonymous with Jewish values, then Jews historically should have always supported the parties that: (a) promoted universal suffrage, government regulation of industry, eight-hour workdays, minimum wages, and compulsory social insurance; or (b) endorsed government work programs, legislation to reduce unemployment, and federal spending to stimulate economic growth.
If these were the only criteria influencing Jews’ political choices, however, they would have supported Mussolini’s Fascist party in the first instance and the Hitler’s National Socialists in the second. Clearly, eliminating Jewish priorities from the equation would lead to untenable results.
It took Mr. Trento, a Gentile supporter of Israel, to drive this point home. In a world clouded by Iranian nuclear threats, encroaching jihadism, intractable Muslim rejectionism, and an American President who seeks rapprochement with anti-Semitic and anti-American regimes, this election truly is about Israel.
Sadly, some Jews do not agree, while others simply don’t understand. But those who choose to support the President by ignoring statements and policies that have imperiled Israeli sovereignty and security would do well to remember the old adage: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”