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Obama’s Hostility To Israel – Why The Surprise?


Recent polls show that Americans, American Jews and Israelis disapprove of President Obama’s policies toward Israel. They oppose his administration’s condemning Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem; his UN speech supporting linkage of U.S. support for Israel’s security to Israeli concession to the Palestinians; his comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews in his June 2009 Cairo speech.

They are right to think Obama hostile – but should they be surprised?

The answer is no. Even before he was elected president, the evidence strongly indicated Obama would be hostile to Israel.

First, there is Obama’s past affiliation and close friendships. For twenty years, he chose to attend – and to be wed and have his daughters baptized in – Trinity United Church, a black supremacist church headed by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man who Obama described in 2005 as his “friend and mentor.”

In 2007, Wright’s church honored the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wright has a long record of preaching vehemently anti-Israeli and anti-American sermons. His denunciations of the two countries include blaming America for supporting Israeli “state terrorism against Palestinians” and supporting Zionism “shamelessly.” He has also urged divestment from Israel.

Obama has insulted our intelligence by claiming that, over twenty years, he, his wife and his children never heard these sermons, that his church friends never mentioned them to him, and that his “friend” and “mentor” Wright never communicated anything of these views to him privately.

Second, there are his friendships with anti-Israel activists like Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah. Khalidi, an academic and former PLO spokesman, has termed “resistance” against Israel “legitimate,” called for Israel to be treated by the U.S. as a “pariah” and even berated Arab academics for participating at events held by pro-Israel think tanks.

Khalidi also blamed the Iraq war on “neoconservatives” who sought to “make the Middle East safe not for democracy, but for Israeli hegemony [and who] firmly hold the racist view that Middle Easterners understand only force. For these American Likudniks and their Israeli counterparts, sad to say, the tragedy of September 11 was a godsend: It enabled them to draft the United States to help fight Israel’s enemies.”

In 2002, Obama, in opposing the Iraq war, called out by name two of the most well-known Jewish figures in the Bush Administration – Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz – and only those two figures, describing them as being “armchair, weekend warriors” who were “cynically” attempting to have Bush topple Saddam – a tune straight out of Khalidi’s playbook.

Abunimah is the author of a book calling for Israel’s replacement by an Arab-dominated state and who said during a debate I had with him at the University of Michigan that he supports a one-state solution, eliminating the Jewish state of Israel. In 2004, Obama told him, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front. Keep up the good work!”

Third, Obama’s policy was foreshadowed by the many hostile-to-Israel Middle East advisers gathered around him prior to his becoming president. One was Robert Malley, who has urged that the 2003 road map requirement for Palestinians to dismantle terrorist groups be waived and that a comprehensive settlement be imposed on the region regardless of Israeli objections.

Obama’s military adviser and national campaign co-chairman, Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak said in 2003 when asked why there was a lack of action in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, “New York City. Miami. We have a large vote – vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.”

Another Obama campaign senior staffer and foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, argued in April 2002 that the U.S. should stop financially supporting Israel’s military and instead invest in a Palestinian state with U.S. forces on the ground to protect it from genocide by Israel.

Former Carter administration national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was yet another Obama campaign adviser well known for his hostility to Israel as well as for his defense of the John Mearsheimer-Stephen Walt assault on the pro-Israel lobby.

Fourth, even in making pro-Israel statements during his run for the White House, Obama revealed his true self by, for example, calling one day before a large Jewish audience for an “undivided Jerusalem” but then recanting that view the very next day, saying Jerusalem had to be negotiated.

He also supported during his presidential campaign the so-called Arab Peace Initiative, a plan that calls for Israel to relinquish strategically vital territory by withdrawing to the pre-1967 armistice lines, setting up a Palestinian state and implementing the so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants – all in return only for what is vaguely described as “normalization,” not even peace.

All this was known before the 2008 election. We should be concerned about or outraged by Obama’s attitude and policy toward Israel, but not surprised.

About the Author: Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.


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Recent polls show that Americans, American Jews and Israelis disapprove of President Obama’s policies toward Israel. They oppose his administration’s condemning Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem; his UN speech supporting linkage of U.S. support for Israel’s security to Israeli concession to the Palestinians; his comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews in his June 2009 Cairo speech.

Is J Street a pro-Israel group? The lobbying organization never tires of claiming it is.

Yet what pro-Israel group would invite a man to speak at its forthcoming conference who has called for Israel’s destruction, stating that “the establishment by force, violence and terrorism of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948” was “unjust” and “a crime,” and vowed to “work to overturn the injustice”?

Today, under the Obama administration – as yesterday under the Bush administration – U.S. policy toward the Arab war on Israel is largely based on the notion that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction are genuine moderates who reject terrorism and accept Israel’s right to exist, and are therefore committed to building a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

As New York’s U.S. senator from 2001 to 2009, Hillary Rodham Clinton was a reliable and vocal supporter of Israel. She was especially strong on Jerusalem, stating in a September 2007 position paper, “I believe that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, must never be questioned.”

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