Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
Last summer, Alan Dershowitz wrote “Has Obama Turned on Israel?” in The Wall Street Journal, a defense of Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel and, by extension, the numerous Jewish Democrats who had supported the president’s election and stuck by him despite a rocky first few months in office.
Reacting to what he acknowledged was a “harsher approach toward Israel ” than had been displayed during the campaign, Dershowitz insisted that despite disputes over settlements, the new administration was still solid on what was really important: safeguarding Israel’s security.
But as I wrote at the time in Commentary magazine, rather than encouraging the Palestinians and their supporters in the Arab world to finally make peace, Obama’s decision to distance himself from Israel encouraged the foes of the Jewish state to dig in their heels and to wait for more American pressure.
By picking a needless fight with Israel over settlements and expanding a long-standing disagreement over Jewish settlement in the West Bank into one about the right of Jews to build in Jerusalem, Obama changed the dynamic of the relationship into one characterized by distrust rather than friendship.
By the start of Obama’s second year in office, the situation appeared brighter. His commitment to engagement with Iran had wasted a full year on fruitless diplomacy that merely replicated the failures of the Bush administration and gave Tehran another year to advance its nuclear ambitions before the West even considered serious steps to stop the regime. But the contempt with which Iran had treated his outstretched hand had appeared to sober Obama up about engagement.
Having failed in an effort to topple the newly elected Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and disappointed by the Palestinians’ refusal to talk peace, the president seemed to have finally grasped the limitations on his power to remake the Middle East.
But optimism about Obama’s attitude toward Israel was dashed earlier this month as Washington seized on a poorly timed announcement of a housing project in Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden to set off a major confrontation with the Netanyahu government. By choosing to turn a minor gaffe into a major incident while ignoring far worse Palestinian provocations and specifically attempting to muscle Netanyahu into a pledge to stop building in East Jerusalem – something no previous administration had ever done – Obama showed that pressure on Israel remained high on his agenda.
Having already reneged on pledges of American support for Israel’s holding on to parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem, the president is doubling down on his drive to bludgeon the Jewish state into further concessions without any hope of reciprocation from the Palestinians.
While it was apparent that one of Obama’s goals in this controversy was to have another go at either chasing Netanyahu from office or altering the composition of his coalition to slant it more to the left, Washington has placed the onus for the certain failure of peace talks on Netanyahu despite the fact that he has accepted the principle of a two-state solution, frozen building in the West Bank and sought to minimize interference with the lives of Palestinians. And by responding more forcefully and with greater anger to a minor dispute with its ally than to the endless atrocities and provocations committed by the Islamist regime in Tehran, Obama has sent a clear signal that no one need take seriously his pledge to stop Iran.
All this raises the question of what Obama’s Jewish supporters have to say now. While Dershowitz and other Jewish Democrats may still claim that statements by Secretary of State Clinton and other officials reiterating America’s resolve to stand by Israel reflect the real nature of the relationship, the latest round of bitter and pointless controversy over Jerusalem orchestrated by Obama must leave even the most ardent fans of the president wondering.
Some on the Jewish left, like the J Street lobby, are happy to see the administration bashing the Netanyahu government because it hopes American pressure can reverse the outcome of the last election in which Israel’s left-wing parties crashed and burned. But while the majority of American Jews may not be particularly fond of Netanyahu or supportive of West Bank settlers, they, like the vast majority of Israelis, do not wish to see Jerusalem divided. Nor do they believe Israel needs to be saved from itself.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.
Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof
What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.
Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.
The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.
Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US
No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?
For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.
It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.
For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.
Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation
Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.
Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers
Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.
One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]
How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.
Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.
Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.
“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-much-longer-will-obamas-jewish-supporters-stick-with-him/2010/03/24/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: