“Americans who support Israel should take the president at his word.” So wrote Haim Saban recently in The New York Times, claiming President Obama was fully committed to the Jewish state.
But is that true? Should we take Obama at his word?
No, not when Israel confronts the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Not long ago Obama was caught on an open microphone sympathizing with French President Sarkozy’s slurring of the Israeli prime minister. And his public snubbing of the Israeli leader’s request to discuss Iran during a recent U.S. visit was, according to Reuters, “a highly unusual rebuff to a close ally.”
Even more worrying, last month former U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who attended several of Obama’s meetings with Netanyahu, admitted “there are serious differences between our interests and Israel’s own security interests.”
All this raises questions about Obama’s sincerity when he publicly says he’ll “always have Israel’s back.”
Nor are these the only times the president has left American voters wondering where he really stands on foreign relations.
Remember when earlier this year he was inadvertently recorded asking former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for “space” until his reelection, when he’d have more “flexibility”? Obama was clearly not being forthright with the American people on his plans with missile defense.
What else hasn’t he told us?
Think about Obama’s anti-Israel friends and mentors – radicals like Rashid Khalidi, Frank Marshall Davis, Jeremiah Wright, or the late Edward Said, whom Obama studied under. Has he made anti-Israel promises to them? Is Obama’s campaign rhetoric in support of Israel only creating “space” until after the election?
Even some liberals now complain the president has lost so much Israeli trust that, in the words of Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, “there is almost no chance of progress [for peace] if Obama wins re-election.”
Given that Obama’s public expressions are not something Israelis can rely upon, we need to take seriously the question: What are his second-term plans when he no longer needs the Jewish vote?
Obama’s supporters tell us there’s nothing to worry about. He can be trusted, they say, because of his record of military aid to Israel and his support for sanctions against Iran.
But the aid was committed in programs that began under previous administrations well before his presidency. He cannot rightly take credit for this aid, just as he cannot take credit for merely signing pro-Israel legislation that had bipartisan congressional support.
Moreover, Obama’s campaign never mentions that in the past few years his budgets have proposed significant cuts in U.S.-Israel missile defense funds. Even worse, the Iranian sanctions contain loopholes that, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, “you could drive a warhead through.” All 20 of Iran’s major trading partners enjoy sanction exemptions. They won’t stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Let’s also not forget that when Obama took office, he admitted his administration sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel. He lectured that the Jewish state needed “to engage in serious self-reflection.” And, in his 2009 address to the Muslim world, he implied a moral equivalence between the Holocaust and Palestinian dislocation.
With a second term, the president won’t have fears of electoral accountability and will act upon his true feelings toward Israel.
This is worrying – especially at a time when Israelis as well as Americans sorely need a president whose words and policies they can rely on.
Not since 1967 has Israel’s security situation been more precarious. Iran is now racing for a nuclear bomb while bragging it only needs “24 hours and an excuse” to destroy the Jewish state. Egypt is lost to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hizbullah is armed to the teeth in Lebanon. Turkey’s government is more foe than friend. The Gulf States use enormous petroleum wealth to fund global anti-Israel propaganda. The “Arab Spring” continues to usher extremists into power. And Hamas rules Gaza.
All the while the United Nations never misses a chance to denounce the Jewish state; Western universities support boycotts of Israel; and a sizable portion of the Democratic Party protests the inclusion of support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in their platform. The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, can’t even name Israel’s capital.