Barack Obama seems to have forgotten whom America’s friends are. When it comes to tyrants like Hugo Chavez who have dismantled their nation’s democracies and thrown their political opponents in jail, or worse, President Obama hugs them with both arms. And when it comes to Middle East dictators, like King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who brutally oppresses women and won’t even allow them drive a car, the President of the United States will bow down before them, literally (he gave the same treatment to the Emperor of Japan, even though Douglas MacArthur forced the Emperor to renounce his divinity). But if you’re the democratically elected Prime Minister of the Middle East’s only fully functioning democracy, and America’s most reliable ally, the President will sic his Secretary of State on you if you don’t cave in to his demands. Who does President Obama think the Israeli Prime Minister is? His poodle?
This is scandalous behavior, and over a non-incident.
Jews should be allowed to live anywhere in Jerusalem, as should Arabs. And had the Israeli government announced that it was preventing Arabs from living in any part of the Holy City that they choose, I would have written an equally scathing column criticizing that xenophobic decision.
So, the Israelis announce that Jewish housing will be added in Jerusalem and it provokes the biggest crisis in American-Israeli relations in recent memory. But the Palestinians, led by Mahmoud Abbas himself, dedicate a square to Dalal Mughrabi, the 19-year-old female terrorist killer who helped to carry out the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history, leaving 38 dead including 13 children, and the Obama Administration barely utters a protest. It’s enough to leave you scratching your head.
During Obama’s Presidential campaign, I was asked to serve as a national co-chair of Rabbis for Obama. I turned it down. First of all, I was amazed that the candidate wasn’t going to be on any calls with the Rabbis who signed up, with the campaign saying he was too busy. Using the Rabbis for their names and support without so much as having a single conversation with them seemed to me to be highly disrespectful. Second and more importantly, I had a strong inkling that President Obama would treat Israel this way. Bullying them, pushing them, and pressuring them, into peace deals that compromised their security.
And make no mistake about it. Splitting Jerusalem, as it had been split up until its unification during the Six-Day War, is the single gravest risk to Israel’s security. Just imagine a Palestinian capitol, with Palestinian forces only miles away from Israel’s Knesset and government buildings. The Palestinian Authority has little control over its own forces and especially its people, a majority of whom support Hamas over the PA. Would Israel really sign a suicide pact to put all the organs of its government within easy striking range of Palestinian rockets?
Haven’t we seen this happen before, with Sderot and Gaza? Can anyone even imagine the consequences if Sderot became Jerusalem?
And with Abbas personally presiding over the ceremony to lionize a mass-murderer of Jews as a hero to Palestinian youth, one might be forgiven if they were to conclude that pandering to the extremists is a greater priority for the Palestinian president than peace.
But all this is beside the point. Israel is not one of America’s 50 states. It’s a sovereign nation. For President Obama and Secretary Clinton to treat Israel with such disdain, and handle its elected officials as if they are naughty school children, is shocking. I would like to see a single other example of an international leader subjected to the kind of public berating that has taken place between Hilary and Bibi over the past week days. It’s beneath the office of the President and the Secretary of State.
And please don’t give me the tired arguments about how much America does for Israel. America gives Egypt billions in aid each year. Yet, Obama showed Hosni Mubarak extensive courtesy when he visited Cairo, even though Mubarak is a dictator who has for decades rejected America’s call for democratic reforms.
And what of Iraq? We spent hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of American casualties to liberate the Iraqis. Anyone hear even a thank you from Iraqi politicians two weeks ago as they went to their second free elections since the liberation? Many Iraqi leaders speak of the Americans as unwelcome intruders, even after the incalculable American investment of blood and treasure. Yet their leaders are treated with utmost respect by the Obama Administration and Secretary Clinton.
Mr. President. Stop treating Israel contemptuously. By putting all the burden on Israel to make peace and making no demands on the Arabs to democratize, you not only undermine America’s commitment to liberty but you scuttle your own efforts at peace. War between the Arabs and Israelis has raged for six decades because the former has always sought to delegitimize and destroy the latter. Israel has made endless concessions only to see its citizens die from having put its guard down.
I don’t see you making peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mr. President. Why do you then so insist that Israel make an accord with a Palestinian Authority that cannot even control the terrorist organization Hamas, whose stated goal is the annihilation of the Jewish state.
One hopes that before the Israeli Prime Minister capitulates to American demands to make certain parts of Judaism’s greatest city Judenrein he will keep in mind that the American president, for all his charisma and wisdom, has watched his approval rating drop to below fifty percent in just over a year because Americans believe he is out of touch with the core problems facing our nation. It would seem that the same may be true of the President’s core convictions as to settlements being the source of the seemingly intractable Arab-Israeli conflict.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network. He has just published The Blessing of Enough, an attempt to wean America off increasing materialism and greed. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @RabbiShmuley.