At what point do we officially label President Obama “anti-Israel” ?
For many Jews, this will never happen, as Obama is a liberal Democrat, supports all the politically correct social justice causes (read: pro-abortion), and belongs to a favored minority group for whose treatment in America Jews have always felt particularly guilty (having been major slaveholders in the antebellum south, apparently…).
But consider that just in the last few weeks Obama has:
1) shifted American foreign policy back to the orientation of the Clinton years, expecting all tangible concessions to come from Israel and all unenforceable promises to come from the Arabs;
2) repudiated President Bush’s understandings with Israel that accepted “natural growth” in settlements in Judea and Samaria, in exchange for Israel’s commitment not to build new settlements outside existing areas;
3) rejected Israel’s request for the purchase of new Apache helicopters (allegedly because of Obama’s “discomfort” as to how they were deployed during the recent Gaza conflict);
4) suggested that America will no longer veto anti-Israel UN resolutions if Israel does not completely conform to American foreign policy dictates;
5) allegedly directed Israel not to launch any military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, and to confer with America before taking any action at all;
6) displayed very uncomfortable body language in his public sessions with Netanyahu, and declined to have a public session at all with visiting President Peres (who was sneaked in and out of the White House through a back door.
Add to this Obama’s continued efforts to mollify the Arab world, culminating in a trip this week to three Middle Eastern countries (but not Israel), and a disturbing pattern emerges. Undoubtedly, Obama will be able to calm the nerves of his most ardent Jewish supporters through his lofty rhetoric and smooth, teleprompted delivery, and leaked references to Rahm Emanuel’s father’s service in the Irgun – but none of that change the facts on the ground: US policy to Israel might be undergoing its most dramatic, harmful shift since the Carter Administration – including even the hostility of the first President Bush-James Baker years.
President Obama spent more than twenty years absorbing the anti-American and anti-Israel ranting of his pastor. It is no wonder he sat quietly through the anti-American screeds Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega – it was like being back in church all over again. Words do matter, and have an effect – in the short term and the long term.
Will American Jews have the gumption to challenge Obama, rally Congressional and other support against him if necessary, and stand up for Israel’s interests – which, in this case, accord with the interests of the free world in combating Islamic terror ? Will American Jews be blinded by flowery words, a White House seder and other allures, and allow the president to potentially sell out Israel ? Or will American Jews see themselves not as defenders of Obama or Israel – both awkward positions, to many – but as intermediaries trying to bridge the gaps between the parties ? Time – and our true sense of national identity – will tell.