Tag Archives: Obama and Israel

Putting the squeeze on Israel

One of the many anomalies of Pres. Barack Hussein Obama’s collapsing foreign policy is Washington’s growing rift with Israel, despite the two countries’ historically intimate ties at every level.
Obama’s fundamental antagonism toward Israel was always apparent: during the 2008 campaign he announced one of his “transformations” would be putting “light between the U.S. and Israel”. Nor were his various close relationships to bitter American Israeli critics secret: Obama sat through two decades of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in turn a friend of the notorious Louis Ferrakhan. There was his close friendship with Rashid Ismail Khalidi, once Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization spokesman. [Obama’s 2005 speech at a send-off party for Khalidid departing the University of Chicago for Columbia University is bottled up along with all his other records.] The traditional “Arabists” in the Washington bureaucracy – for example, Obama’s CIA Director John O. Brennan, who continues to deny “jihad” is a call to war against the West – bring up the rear.
All this was somewhat camouflaged by the presence in the Obama entourage of a number of secular Jewish campaign apparatchiks – including some grownup Red Diaper babies. And, of course, there is his continued Democratic Party’s traditional hold on the miniscule but critical Jewish vote and political contributions since the days of FDR.
But now with presumably no more elections for Obama and a growing personalization of the Administration’s foreign policy in the President’s hands, the differences between Washington and Jerusalem are leading to strategic divergence.
In what to all intents and purposes looked like an Administration inspired plant, an “analysis” in The New York Times suggested Obama offers a “deal” to Jerusalem: lay off criticism [and lobbying on Capitol Hill] against Obama’s Iran proposals and Washington will not join the Europeans in the UN pushing a Palestinian state. [One of the fundamentals of American Mideast policy, of course, had been that only a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves, rather than a dictated “peace”, would be long-lasting.] But this is a “bargain” even the most fervent Israeli Netanyahu critics among leftwing “peace” advocates could not accept.
The ugly truth is that – bitterly criticized by the Obamaites when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated it during his election campaign – there is no possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian compromise, at least for now.
First, of course, is that there is no negotiating partner on the Palestinian side. In their Arabic language pronouncements, at odds with what they feed their media friends in English in the West, Palestinian officials [and popular opinion] refuse to acknowledge the Jewish state’s right to exist. Secondly, of course, the Palestinians are divided – at least into two groups. There is the PLO kleptocracy of Mohammed Abbas on the so-called West Bank. [Called Judea and Samaria from Biblical times,“the West Bank” came into fashion only after the Jordanian state, itself carved illegally out of the League of Nations Palestine mandate took it in the 1947-48 war.]
The PLO is in a bitter struggle with Hamas which dominates Gaza. [Gaza PLO partisans have been thrown off roofs without benefit of parachute.] Furthermore, despite its ultra-Sunni Moslem Brotherhood origins, Hamas has become a client of the Shia terrorists in Tehran who supply it arms. Although Abbas has postponed elections indefinitely on the West Bank, there are growing indications that Hamas’ Moslem terrorists would gain control there too absent the PLO’s collaboration with Israeli security.
All this has written finis to the whole concept of Israeli trading “land for peace”. An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank – as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s 2005 exit from Gaza – would invite another hostile force within mortar range of Israel’s “heartland”. The proposed demilitarization of a Palestinian state by United Nations guarantees has vanished. On the contrary, UN peacekeepers on the Lebanese, Syrian and Gaza borders have become liabilities for the international community, unable to defend themselves in deteriorating situations.
In reality the whole concept of two states west of the Jordan River is dead for now, perhaps permanently. If, indeed, there is any possibility of compromise, it would go back to a plan drafted by the then Israeli foreign minister Yigal Allon just after the 1967 Six Day War. Allon proposed designating Jordan ruled by the old British allies, the Hashemite dynasty, the Palestinian state. It already has a Palestinian majority. Arab cantons on the West Bank would be annexed to its present territory east of the Jordan, and Israel would take over the traditional Biblical Hebrew centers. The fact that the Allon Plan gets no mention these days suggests the emptiness of Secretary of State John Kerry’s frantic calls to revive “the peace process”.
Obviously, reading Obama’s mind on the Mideast is an exercise in more than the usual frustration. It is hard to know whether his earlier adamant statements on policy, now completely reversed, were only politically convenient statements.
But whatever is behind his wholesale concessions to Tehran he publicly refused only months ago, it certainly does not include the interests of what has been the U.S.-Israeli alliance.
On this issue as in his proposed concession to the mullahs in Tehran, he will face overwhelming opposition in his own party as well as among Republicans in the Congress. But, once again, the enormous power of the American presidency is being tested by an executive who has always insisted he intended “to transform” long-held U.S. policies.

Horror vacui

Pres. Barak Hussein Obama has given new meaning to that epithet “imperial presidency”. It was slung at Pres. Richard Nixon not only for his extravagant “palace guard” – some in kitschy uniforms – but his more serious unconstitutional overreach.

But if imperial in his style, Mr. Obama reigns; he does not rule.

Whether domestic or foreign policy, Mr. Obama abdicates to Congressional or bureaucratic control then spins the often resulting muddle as something for which he is not responsible. It results, for example, in outgoing Sec. of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen pontificating far above their pay grade, to be contradicted almost instantaneously by events or Mr. Obama himself. The President’s hands-on applies only to maintaining his leftwing political base, whether Wisconsin unionists or Washington lobbies, reinforcing his South Side Chicago-Hyde Park 1960s leftwing agenda and his search for reelection campaign dollars.

Given the presidency’s dual role as chief of state as well as chief executor, celebration of a multitude of ceremonies is necessary and fitting – all the more in times of peril when the nation’s spirit needs uplift. But Mr. Obama’s sports addiction, his gliterrati extravaganzas, his causal acknowledgement of our closest allies’ tragedies, and his wife’s Marie-Antoinette progressions are increasingly bizarre. Importing a Chicago Daley mob family member, supposedly as a pragmatic chief of staff, so far has not injected restraint much less austerity.

This standard operating procedure is reinforced by Mr. Obama’s denigration of historic American accomplishments, often on foreign soil. Symptomatically, in the one international arena where he has sought leadership, relations with the Muslim world, there’s almost total disaster. Having made what he, if not most scholars, considered two seminal speeches offering renewed friendship with Islam, American interests are now in jeopardy in both locales. Turkey, site of his first lecture, once a stalwart NATO ally, defies the West’s policies on the Iranian nuclear weapons issue, the greatest threat now facing the alliance. His Cairo speech, seemingly falling on deaf ears, was followed by his bemused Administration fostering regime change but adding little to its still awaited outcome.

Of course Pres. Obama did not create these long simmering crises. But he contributes to them through his Administration’s lack of faith in American power, hard and soft. Favoring multilateralism to American leadership, his UN representative, Amb. Susan Rice, preaches that gospel but neglects reform of the organization’s abysmal corruption and inadequacy for which taxpayers pick up too much of the tab. Only when Muammar Qadaffi began slaughtering his own people did Washington join to redress the charade of Libya’s prominence on the UN Human Rights Council.

In this world of rampant behaviorism and relativism, Aristotle may not dominate as he once did. And his concept that nature abhors a vacuum [horror vacui in Latin] may be questioned with such new mysteries as black holes in outer space. But we are getting  its proof in what happens geopolitically when the world’s paramount power chooses not to lead. Or worse still, when Mr. Obama trumpets policy without following through. Minor players with fewer resources, physical and intellectual, take the field exacerbating regional conflicts in an increasingly intertwined world.

Nowhere has that been more apparent than Washington’s approach to the Egyptian regime’s collapse, the Bahrain religious conflict and now the Libyan civil war with their attendant growing threat to world energy supplies.

Like a sick dog to its vomit, Washington returns again and again to the Israel-Palestine issue as the magic bullet to cure Mideast troubles. It’s the one international issue where the President enthusiastically commits his prestige. But having chosen Israeli settlements in areas won in the 1967 war as fundamental – it was subsidiary until he came along – Mr. Obama jeopardizes Israel’s basic security further postponing any agreement. The absurdity of his position is self evident: in a “two-state solution”, he ignores Israel’s almost 2-million Arabs but infers a Palestinian state must be “judenrein”.

Elsewhere lack of U.S. leadership – even withholding rhetorical support for Iran’s opposition — has helped extend Tehran leadership’s religious fanatic and kleptocratic tentacles across the Fertile Crescent. The Persian Mullahs have managed to play all sides in “the Arab spring”. Not only does Tehran use Shia Syrian and Lebanese co-sectarians, but it sponsors Sunni Palestinian terrorism including Hamas, offspring of Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood. [The latest unspeakably barbaric murder of an Israeli family eclipsed by the Japanese catastrophe was apparently Tehran-sponsored.] Iran may well profit from whatever comes of Mr. Obama’s belated moves to oust Qadaffi.

The arguments against American intervention in Libya were strong. Though Washington’s choice was to disremember his murder of Americans, in a Berlin discothèque in 1986 and PanAmerican 103 at Lockerbie in 1988, it is not forgotten in a region where mayhem and revenge are ever present. Ultimately, Mr. Obama could no more ignore Tripoli [ah! the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and his Marines!] than rising oil prices spurred by Obama Administration counterproductive domestic energy policies could fail to cripple American recovery.

Thus Pres. Obama and the U.S. have been sucked into an undelineated vacuum, in part of his own making.