The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
For the past two years the hottest debate in the pro-Israel community has been over how to assess the Obama administration. Despite the tense relationship with the Israeli government, the fights picked over building in Jerusalem and the pressure for a settlement freeze, there has been a considerable body of opinion that still insisted Obama had basically changed nothing in the Israel-U.S. relationship.
Even most of those who took this position would concede that the atmospherics between Washington and Jerusalem were considerably worse than they were during the Bush administration. But they argued that when one looked coldly at the facts about the alliance, nothing had been altered.
At the very least, they would contend, Obama was no worse than Bush or any other president, since no American leader had ever fully accepted Israel’s positions on territory, settlements or borders.
Their strongest argument consisted of citing the close cooperation that has continued to exist between the U.S. Defense Department and the Israel Defense Forces. And on this point they are right, though for that to change it would have taken an overt and gratuitous effort by the White House that Obama has not made. So while he deserves credit for maintaining the close defense ties between the two allies, it is mainly for having the sense (both strategic and political) to have not tried to mess it up. Advertisement
On the surface, the veto cast last week by the United States in the UN Security Council ought to be considered more proof of Obama’s steadfastness as a friend of Israel. When all was said and done, he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and refused to allow the UN body to brand Israel a criminal lawbreaker.
That this veto took place after an American effort to head off a vote – by proposing a “statement” by the president of Security Council rather than a formal resolution – was rejected by the Palestinians was testimony to the latter’s intransigence and not to Obama’s loyalty to his Israeli ally.
And the unnecessary explanation given after the vote that branded the Jewish state’s position on the issue of settlements as “illegitimate,” and that claimed they “threatened” peace and “devastate” trust, undermined any notion of U.S. support for Israel.
Obama apologists could argue that opposition to settlements isn’t new. But the talk of the “illegitimacy” of the homes of not only the more than quarter million Israelis who live in the West Bank but of the more than 200,000 who live in the parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967 is something different.
As with the fight Obama picked in the spring of 2010 over building houses in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, this statement escalates a longstanding disagreement into a more serious dispute. Obama’s attempt to erase the distinction between remote settlements Israel has said it would give up in a peace accord and those the Bush administration conceded in 2004 were established facts that must be respected was one thing. But Obama’s willingness to treat 40-year-old Jewish neighborhoods in Israel’s ancient capital as illegal settlements was quite another.
Agreeing with those who wrongly claim all the settlements are illegal (as opposed to unwise or worthy of surrender for the sake of peace) was bad enough. But the American declaration last Friday (repeated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on ABC News on Sunday) that the Jewish presence there was “illegitimate” again places the issue in a different light.
Things could be worse. Had the U.S. not vetoed the resolution it would have been the final signal that this administration really was determined to cut loose the Israelis. But by showing that the veto was cast reluctantly and with ill will, the effect is not much different.
So while relations could still deteriorate further, there is no doubt Obama’s negative feelings toward Israel are becoming a serious factor in Middle East diplomacy, making the already poor chances for peace worse and increasing the possibility that Israel’s foes will conclude that the Jewish state cannot count on U.S. support if new fighting breaks out along the border with Gaza or Lebanon.
The work of Obama’s pro-Israel apologists has just gotten more difficult. One suspects that by the time he leaves office, it will have gotten harder still.
Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary and a contributor to the magazine’s Contentions blog, where this originally appeared.
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 email@example.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Pentecost, derived from the Greek word for 50, is celebrated 50 days after Easter.
U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.
We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
Obama thought he could replace the Saudis with Iran as the new ME lynchpin without paying a price
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.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-pro-israel-is-obama/2011/02/23/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: