The silver lining we can cling to

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Much ink has been spilled over the unreasonable, childish and bullying language used by a high-ranking official in the Obama administration, according to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic. But the source of the remarks in question is probably much deeper than most analysts have pointed out. Unless they are truly asleep, U.S. President Barack Obama and his sycophantic administration must be aware of the grave, existential challenges confronting the State of Israel on each one of its borders, and most crucially, they must be aware of the looming Iranian nuclear threat. This lack of empathy for a fellow democracy under siege in the most unstable region of the world has crossed the line into utter contempt and disdain.

Perhaps Obama cannot be bothered to empathize with the leader of a nation of 8.2 million people living in a region of the world where 200,000 Syrians have been butchered in an internecine Muslim war, where the Islamic State group is fighting on its northern border, where Hezbollah has over 100,000 missiles, and where rivaling, primitive, atavistic and tribal forces are vying for power. It appears that while the world is longing for a Winston Churchill, Obama has been much more comfortable playing in the little league of domestic politics — hitting the campaign trail for Democratic candidates and blaming the Republican Congress for political impasses — than assuming courageous moral leadership on the international stage.

Despite the old saying of “sticks and stones may break my bones,” these words reported by Jeffrey Goldberg can really hurt us. This story has done tremendous damage and signaled to Iran that the United States is not only prepared to throw Israel under the bus, but that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lacks the courage to attack Iran, when in fact the U.S. administration has directly asked him not to attack Iran.

Stories have also been leaked by this administration recently suggesting that the U.S. has threatened not to exercise its veto power to block a unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in the U.N. Security Council unless Israel complies with the unreasonable demands to retreat to the 1949 armistice lines — the indefensible pre-1967 borders.

Anyone who witnessed what Israel went through this past summer, with 4,000 missiles coming at it from Gaza, should be aware of just how unreasonable this request is. Can anyone imagine the havoc that could be wrought on the Jewish state with a Palestinian state just a few kilometers away from Ben-Gurion International Airport? We already saw this summer how much damage one rocket can do when it explodes near the airport.

In addition, we have seen how quickly power changes hands in the Middle East. Even if Judea and Samaria were to be handed over to the Palestinians today, while Fatah is in power, it is more than likely that the area just a few miles from Israel’s major population centers would be in Hamas hands tomorrow. In a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy Survey and Research, if elections were held today, Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh would easily defeat Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah by a landslide: 61 to 32 percent.

The fact that the American president and his administration have willfully turned a blind eye to these vexing facts, which are vital to Israel’s continuing existence, strongly indicates that while Obama is at the wheel of the bus, Israel has been thrown deep under it.

It has been obvious since the time Obama assumed office in 2009, beginning with his Oval Office conversation to a few, select American Jewish leaders, that he felt that not having “daylight” between Israel and the U.S. was keeping the U.S. from making headway with the Muslim and Arab world. It was obvious that Obama never really had Israel’s back, despite what he might have said in front of an American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention in 2008, when he was running for office.

The fact that so many American Jews have refused to acknowledge this should indicate that perhaps Jews are not such a smart people after all — at least when it comes to our own self-interest. As the late Milton Himmelfarb once said, “Jews are the only people who earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.”

Despite what some of Obama’s cheerleaders might say, the amount of disdain he has exhibited toward the prime minster and people of Israel has been absolutely unprecedented.

In both the Iranian issue and the Palestinian statehood issue Obama has put Israel in a paralyzing double bind. In regard to Iran the U.S. has made it cleat that Israel either listen to the U.S. and withhold a pre-emptive strike, or it will be isolated by the world, and when Iran retaliates, the U.S. will refrain from lending its valuable weapons, its bases and its verbal support. But when Israel does comply with the U.S. dictates, its leader is mocked for lacking the courage to go to war or the courage that former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin displayed in 1981 when he bombed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. In regard to the Palestinian issue, we now see that either Israel subject itself to the suicidal borders of 1967, or the United States will allow the international community to unilaterally impose those borders on the Jewish state. In both cases, Israel is isolated and unable to defend itself.

Meanwhile, under Obama’s urging, we are headed toward a very bad agreement with Iran in which the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) have backtracked from almost all 12 of their original demands. All of this bending over backward toward Tehran has proven, once again, that appeasement never works. This week marked the 35th anniversary of the taking over of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in their annual “Death to America” demonstrations. Last week, Ali Younesi, senior adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, called Obama “the weakest of all U.S. presidents” and described his tenure as “humiliating.”

However, Obama and his plans to forge ahead with a nuclear agreement by November 24 may well have hit a barrier because Tehran has now refused to cooperate with U.N. inspectors. Last Friday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director Yukiya Amano said that despite almost a year of negotiations, “there has been almost no progress in almost all of the areas.”

Several Republican senators, including ranking Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) have proposed legislation stipulating that no nuclear deal can be reached with Iran without congressional review and oversight. It would also prevent further extensions of the negotiations, strictly enforce Iran’s compliance and prevent implementation of a final agreement unless a veto-proof majority of Congress approves the deal.

The one silver lining in all of this is that the American people went to the polls and spoke out on Tuesday. To the extent that they can, the Republican-controlled Senate and House will do their best to weigh in. Whether or not they will be successful in preventing the Obama administration’s foreign policy failures from becoming the real catastrophe that they portend, not only for Israel, but for Sunni Gulf states, for the United States and for all of the West, remains to be seen.

Article first appeared at

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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