Last year at this time, a majority of American Jews were waiting breathlessly for the day when Barack Obama, the man for whom they voted overwhelmingly, would take the oath of office and become president of the United States.
The excitement and sense of anticipation were palpable, as many Jews innocently looked forward to the dawn of a new era, and the onset of significant change to the way Washington dealt with the world.
Well, change has most certainly come about, though it is hardly the kind that Jews can have reason to cheer.
Just consider the American response to the events of recent days.
Last week, the wailing of sirens and the blast of explosions could be heard in southern Israel, as residents of the Negev once again found themselves under attack.
In a series of unprovoked assaults, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli towns and villages, sparking fears that yet another flare-up may be under way.
Meanwhile, in Judea and Samaria, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad took time out of his schedule to visit the families of three terrorists slain by the IDF after they had murdered a rabbi last month.
Needless to say, Fayyad did not go to berate the families for their loved ones’ participation in terror. Instead, he sought to comfort his hosts, assuring them their kin had died as holy martyrs for the Palestinian cause.
And just how, you might be wondering, did the Obama administration react to all of this?
By threatening Israel, of course.
In a remarkably revealing January 7 interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who now serves as Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, openly suggested that Israel would be punished if it did not agree to make still more concessions to the Palestinians.
When Rose said, “You sit there and you say to Israel, look, if you don’t do this, what?” Mitchell replied: “Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel . There are others [options], and you have to keep open whatever options. But our view is that we think the way to approach this is to try to persuade the parties what is in their self-interest.”
So even as the Palestinian Authority adamantly refuses to return to the negotiating table, the Obama administration prefers to point the finger at Israel, unabashedly threatening the Jewish state with economic sanctions.
Just who does Mitchell think he is? Indeed, his stated desire to “persuade the parties what is in their self-interest” is more suitable to a parent trying to enlighten an impudent child than a foreign diplomat addressing a sovereign state. How dare he deem to know better than Israel its own best interests?
Not content with this outburst of conceit, Obama’s point man for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute went a step further, seeking to impose an outlandish timetable for solving the century-old conflict.
“We think that the negotiation should last no more than two years,” he said, adding, that, “once begun we think it can be done within that period of time.”
It didn’t seem to occur to Mitchell that every previous attempt to force a time limit on talks ended in calamitous failure, or that artificial deadlines are, as their name suggests, contrived and ultimately detrimental.
And yet, when speaking of the Palestinians, Mitchell’s tenor changed perceptibly as he went out of his way to heap praise on Fayyad, twice calling him an “impressive leader” and asserting that he represented “strong and effective leadership for the Palestinian people.”
If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the snickering and laughter in Ramallah and Gaza as the Palestinians rejoice at the free pass they are getting from the White House.
They continue to laud terrorists and plan to carry out attacks against Israel, all the while enjoying political and diplomatic impunity in the eyes of Washington.
Meanwhile, it is the Jewish state that the Obama administration chooses to bully and cajole.
And so, as America prepares to mark the first anniversary of Obama’s ascension to power, it is time for each and every Jew who voted for him to own up to the error he or she made.
Not since the days of George Bush (the father), nearly twenty years ago, has Israel been the target of such unrelenting demands and intimidation.
In the past 12 months, the president has repeatedly twisted Israel’s arm both publicly and privately, treating America’s closest ally in the Middle East more like a pest than a pal.
His policy is giving encouragement to our foes, hardening their hostility and seeking to push Jerusalem into a corner.
That is the kind of change we can all most assuredly do without.
Michael Freund, whose Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month, served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.