Op-Ed: Obama's Deteriorating Relationship with Israel
Unfortunately most American Jews did not agree that Obama treated Israel poorly in his first term (or did not care) since 69% of them voted for him in the 2012 election (down from 78% in 2008). However, eligible U.S. voters living in Israel are clearly more perceptive as 85% voted for Romney, leaving Obama with a measly 14.3% support in the Promised Land.
Obama’s anti-Israel view should have been obvious to everyone considering that he was the first U.S. President to call for a settlement construction freeze as a pre-condition to peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Not even a Palestinian leader had thought of such an unreasonable pre-condition.
Obama also called for talks on a Palestinian State based on pre-1967 borders, something Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and many Israeli politicians called “indefensible.”
Of course, not all treatment of Israel by Obama was bad in his first term, but I contend that it was merely a strategy as to not jeopardize his reelection bid.
After winning his second term, he no longer needs to worry about that and the true Obama agenda can emerge. This contention is not far-fetched at all, considering that in March of 2012 Obama told Russian President Medvedev, when he thought his microphone was turned off, “this is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”
We have seen a preview of that agenda early on in his second term when he chose to fill three key positions with John Kerry for Secretary of State, Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, and John Brennan as the new CIA director. These individuals have dubious or hostile views of Israel.
For example, in October of 2000 Hagel was one of only four Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel. He has also made very odd statements including “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” Furthermore, Hagel is against unilateral sanctions of Iran and single-handedly killed an Iran sanctions bill in 2008.
John Brennan refers to Jerusalem as “Al-Quds,” the Islamic name for the city in an attempt to distance Jerusalem from its Jewish roots. Another troublesome aspect of Brennan is that he has openly said: “nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists, or Islamists, because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam.”
Last month John Kerry blamed Israel’s ‘prosperity’ for the lack of progress in the peace process with Palestinians. He also compared the families of pro-Palestinian Turkish ‘activists’ killed by the IDF in the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident with the families of the innocent victims killed in the Boston marathon bombings.
While Obama’s second term team foreshadows trouble for Israel, the actions of his administration raise further concern. In March, Mr. Obama went to Israel for the first time as U.S. President with two immediate results following the visit.
He managed to improve Israeli public opinion of him, even though he circumvented the Knesset and instead chose to speak in front of far-left university students.
And shortly after Obama left Israel, Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident (most likely as a result of pressure from Obama), despite the fact that the members of the flotilla were Jew-hating jihadis seen chanting in this video, “O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return.”
Additionally, Obama recently cut U.S. defense aid to Israel by 5% although he had earlier doubled aid to the Syrian rebels. The U.S. also sent 200 Abrams tanks and 10 F-16s to the Islamist Egyptian government, and recently Secretary Kerry waived congressional requirements and sent an additional $1.3 billion in arms to Egypt. In January, the U.S. sent 200 armored vehicles to unstable Lebanon, and has provided more than $140 million to the Lebanese armed forces in the previous six months.
The Obama administration is currently busy dealing with the recent scandals, mainly by attempting to shift the focus to other issues such as climate change and nuclear proliferation.
But eventually (probably after the 2014 congressional elections), you can expect the Obama administration’s rhetoric and actions against Israel to become increasingly hostile. The new members of his team certainly wouldn’t object.