Amnon Lord, Makor Rishon Senior EditorThe writer is a jounalist, movie critic, writer, editor and tv producer. He served as editor in chief of the popular Makor Rishon Hebrew newspaper and is currently a senior editor with the paper. His writes a much-discussed op-ed column in the paper's weekend news supplement.
Now that the best and brightest have finished their comparisons with Munich and Chamberlain, I wish to provide another, somewhat more shocking, comparison, one that in the past, resulted in people calling for smelling salts.
In March 2010, I attempted to explain the American president's seemingly incomprehensible behavior in simple terms, making use of the name Charles Lindbergh. The legendary pro-Nazi pilot surfaced again in Philip Roth's novel "The Plot Against America", published in 2004. Roth penned a novel based on speculative history ("what would have happened if…")- in this case, what would have happened had Charles Lindbergh won the 1940 elections rather than FDR, the incumbent against whom he ran for president.
The great United States of America and the great land of Germany – the land that was, coincidentally, ruled at the time by that Chancellor named Adolf Hitler - would have developed ties of friendship and mutual accord. Roth waxed eloquent on the effects this would have had on American Jewry and on the resulting cooperation that would have developed between American Jewish leadership and the new anti-Jewish American government.
For nearly four years now, it has been clear that the then-new American president sees the world in a fashion that is diametrically opposed to what we expect from an American government. He disposed of the bust of Churchill that stood in the White House. All the historical narrative that contains the struggle of democracies against totalitarian regimes, the Munich agreement, appeasement, giving in, Chamberlain – all those are one story in his history book. Even the Spanish Civil War is irrelevant. In his book there are imperialism, colonialism, Zionist aggression and peoples that awaken and rebel. That is how, in 2010, this Lindbergh-style president supported Argentina in the renewed hostilities that developed between that country and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands.
By the beginning of 2010, when Obama began a political siege on Israel for building in Jerusalem while evincing goodwill gestures such as stretching out a hand towards Ahmadinejad's Iran, shaking hands with and hugging Chavez as well as offering US friendship to the then president of Brazil, Lula de Silva, it seemed clear that the American president felt that the world was ready for the Chavesian, Ahmadinejadian and Bashar-Assadian style of leadership.
Obama simply prefers Iran over Israel.
On his visit to Israel in March 2010, the above-mentioned Lula pointedly refrained from laying a wreath on Herzl's grave; he most decidedly did not refrain from laying one on Arafat's grave. This is the world in which the American president feels at home, the one he sees himself leading.
The agreement signed with the Iranians in Geneva sets a new record for the about-face in policy that characterizes the US government under Obama. Obama's policy is not centered on neutralizing Iran's nuclear power. It is centered on the beginning of a wonderful friendship with the Ayatollahs whose regime has not retreated from plans to destroy Israel and which has not abandoned its worldwide terror network.
The secret communications channel, the details of which were revealed in the Maariv Hebrew newspaper magazine cover story, proves that there is a change in orientation and not a concerted diplomatic effort to prevent nuclearization. In the not-too-distant future, we will see Obama on a historic visit to Tehran and watch him shake the hand of the "Supreme Spiritual Leader".
The fact that Obama has adopted a Lindberghian policy doesn't mean that in this new context he is not being realistic. The worrisome reality is that the relative strengths in the much-discussed, historical hostility between Sunnis and Shiites in the Middle East, are not balanced, this according to a reliable security source with access to intelligence data. Syria is the main area for this struggle and what the US and Israel see is that the Shiites, backed by Iran, are a solid power with the ability to control and carry out a clear policy.
In contrast, the Sunnis do not have any real power at this point. They are fragmented. The Syrian opposition has not proved that it is internally cohesive and can control and keep order in major sections of Syria, let alone in Iraq. They were unable to retain power even in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood won control. So the Americans handed over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Iran.
There is no doubt that Preisdent Obama knows very well that he is turning into a partner of leaders who have committed crimes against humanity and a friend of those who declare their intentions of doing so. No problem. He simply prefers Iran over Israel.
In addition, it must be added, that in terms of the past, Israel also preferred the forces known today as Shiite: Iran, the Lebanese Shiites (who became the Hezbollah), for example. But in Obama's case, strategic realism is simply a cover-up for ideological preference.
Obama also prefers to place a wreath on the grave of Ayatollah Khoumeini rather than those of Herzl or Ben Gurion.
This May Sound Terrible, but….
Amir Oren, the Haaretz writer who acts as if he is an American source of influence, had a slip of the tongue last week when he said: "..This is the reason for the adamant refusal of 5 presidents over 28 years to forgive Pollard. The man himself is not important to America, the punitive and preventive lesson his story teaches Israel is what counts: don't be a wise guy and don't show off…Netanyahu, in this regard, is liable to become a political Pollard."
It is probably accurate to say that Amir Oren is threatening us. But who has sent him? Who is behind him? After all, Oren himself is of no importance. What is important is what he is telling us about the real American use of Pollard. The same point was taken on Israel's Channel 2 "Facts" show and in another article by Nahum Barnea (famous columnist, ed.) on relations between the US and Israel. Barnea, unlike Oren, is not confused about where his loyalties lie. He is an Israeli and a patriotic one. He does not think that the Americans are wise or justified in torturing one of their own citizens this way. He has a different spin, comparing Pollard with the freeing of the Iranian scientist within the framework of the Iran agreement.
The slip of the tongue at the beginning of last week was meant to remind former/retired Israeli security personnel that they had better continue to cooperate with the Americans in their anti-Israeli government policies, given that the basic premise is that what is good for the USA is not good for Israel.
I know. It sounds terrible. But the highest ranking security personnel in Israel see what happened to certain persona over the years because of the Pollard saga. Rafi Eitan (who was Pollard's handler) cannot enter the USA. Aviam Sela's (the Israeli general who planned the Osirak attack) budding career was destroyed by American dictates. Amos Yaron (once Defense Ministry director) has problems. Even (former jShabak head) Yuval Diskin once had trouble getting a visa to the USA.
And even more telling: there is a great demand – and rightly so – for the skills of Israeli security people in various industries here. They combine vast knowledge with diplomatic ability that ordinary businessmen lack. And developing weapons exports vitalizes the Israeli economy - but some of this trade requires American authorization and is dependent on the US.
Therefore, as awful as it sounds, it is quite possible to envisage a situation where top level Israeli security persona fall into line with US directives in an unwritten agreement: i.e. we will back your positions in exchange for freedom of employment. Wikileaks documents exposed the terrible verbal lapses of Israeli security and intelligence personnel at the American Embassy; one can only imagine what they say when they are actually in the US.
So Pollard serves as the stick; and as far as concerns the carrot, I suggest taking a look at how for many years top policy-makers have said that Saudi Arabia – and even Bill Clinton said it – is the pension fund of retired American government officials: Say what we want you to say, announce policies that we like, and at retirement, accept a lucrative job at our expense.
I know it sounds just terrible when it is applied to our people.
And what about former prime ministers? Let us just say that in the marketplace of lectures at universities and various institutes, Ehud Olmert is not paid to talk about the exciting cultural renaissance in Israel nor about its hi-tech. He is paid to sell Israel and its government down the river for the highest available price.