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Congress Must Challenge Obama On Israel

By: Ed Koch

The silence continues to be deafening with no Democrat in Congress to my knowledge crying out against President Obama for continuing to try to diminish America’s closeness to Israel.

The president is apparently attempting to placate the Sunni Muslim countries in order to establish a coalition opposed to the increasing power of the Shi’ite Muslim state of Iran that towers in the region like a colossus. The president fails to realize, however, that sacrificing the U.S.-Israel relationship is both unnecessary and dangerous. The Sunni Arab countries are petrified of Iran’s growing power and are actually aligned with Israel in their opposition to Iran.

Further, treating Israel as the problem only emboldens the radical elements in the Middle East and makes the prospect of another Arab-Israeli war more likely. Only through steadfast U.S. support of Israel will the Arab countries realize the Jewish state is here to stay. That, in turn, will lead to peace.

While the president continues to hammer Israel, the Iranian nuclear threat increases by the day. As The New York Times reported this week, “[Defense Secretary] Gates had warned in a secret three-page memo that the United States did not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear capability.”

Our efforts to assemble the needed coalition of nations to impose meaningful sanctions against Iran at the Security Council have failed. Meanwhile, a New York Times story on Monday concerning the efforts of the Obama administration to woo American Muslims was headlined “White House Quietly Courts Muslims In the U.S.”

What have the Senate and House done to convey to the president their differences with him on these issues and the outrageous treatment accorded our long-time ally, Israel? They issued joint letters. The House letter was signed by 333 members and the Senate letter by 76 senators. The letters were addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when I believe they should have been sent to the president directly, since it is he, not she, who is orchestrating the change in the standing of Israel and the elevation of Arab interests.

The letters consist of a platitudinous statement of why the U.S. and Israel are allies, but do not criticize the president or convey to him that Congress will oppose his efforts to change the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Even more shocking is that some key senators were unwilling even to sign the toothless letter. One can only speculate why the following senators declined to sign – John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Christopher Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee; Dick Durbin (D-IL), Democratic Party whip; Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate majority leader; and others. Was it due to agreement with the president’s plan? Was it fear of the president? I suspect agreement.

There are those, when asked what they are doing to challenge and defeat the president’s actions with regard to these grave matters, who have answered, “I am working behind the scenes.” Those corridors must be heavily crowded and those hidden efforts do not appear to have produced results. I repeat: the silence is deafening.

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