Published in The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
Despite Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated apologies over the timing of Israeli‘s announcement of plans to build 1,600 new housing units in North Jerusalem, during Vice President Biden’s Israeli visit, the Obama administration, led personally by Obama himself, have not let go of the issue, and have been repeatedly publicly reprimanding and even “condemning” Israel.
Since the neighborhood is in Jerusalem and the November 25, 2009 Nehanyahu – Obama agreement was for a 10 month Israeli construction freeze on West bank Jewish settlements, excluding Jerusalem, it seems puzzling that Obama would react so strongly to a bureaucrat gaffe by a local planning board when existential issues are at stake in the Middle east.
Apparently the president wished to kill two birds with one stone when he chose to turn a bureaucratic blunder into a public crisis in US – Israeli Relations.
The first goal appears to be Obama’s continuous self anointed “messianic “efforts to rehabilitate the tarnished image of Islam in the eyes of Americans and to heal the breach between Islam and the West by adopting a strategy of engagement with them including Islamist rogue states like Iran and Syria. But Obama, like much of the Western vocal elite of policy makers, believes Israel is the main problem preventing Arab rulers and Islamist revolutionaries from loving the west because of Israel’s alleged attempts to torpedo the so called peace talks.
Therefore, to achieve his goal Obama needed first to undermine the alliance between the US and the Jewish state in the eyes of the American people who seems to disagree with the elite by strongly favoring democratic Israel over the mostly totalitarian Moslem world. In Gallup’s latest poll published in the beginning of March, 67% of the American people were favorable toward Israel which ranked it as the fifth most popular country after Britain, Canada, Japan and Germany. By contrast only 20% were favorable to the Palestinians.
The president has been determined since he came to power to weaken this favorable perception by the American masses by constantly provoking crisis, public confrontation, and humiliation of Netanyahu and even spreading false accusations , such as the one claimed by Biden that Israel‘s construction in Jerusalem “endangers the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan”.
The second reason seems to be Obama’s attempt to divert attention from his 14 month old failed policy of engagement with Iran concerning the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and to warn Israel against an attack on Iran nuclear reactors without his permission which will never be given . Obama does not believe in military solutions and especially one against a Muslim state and has resigned himself to a nuclear Iran which he believes can be contained. Israel strongly disagrees. Israel is impatiently waiting for permission and assistance from Obama to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Over the last few months many American officials have visited Israel to warn against a military attack against Iran . It is rumored that, prior to the public confrontation, Netanyahu discussed with Biden the possibility of a US blockade against Iran as a way to push it to stop its nuclear program. It seems Obama felt Israel was not listening and wanted it to understand that if he is willing to put the US-Israel alliance at risk for a timing blunder, Israel should just imagine what the US reaction would be for attacking Iran without permission .
By now it seems obvious that Obama is not President Bush or Clinton. He talks the talk but does not walk the walk. Even though he and his advisors talk about the special relationship between Israel and the US, and the US commitment to Israel’s security, Obama does not appreciate or respect Israel as an ally or a friend. Otherwise it does not make sense for the President of the US to be personally involved in orchestrating a disproportionate response and harsh public confrontation with Israel over a bureaucratic gaff in the midst of a health care legislation struggle, high unemployment, deep recession ,and terrorism wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While Biden seemed to accept Netanyahu’s assurances and apology that he had been blindsided by the plan’s approval, and that the construction was years away, the White House did not relent.
First, Biden kept Netanyahu waiting for their dinner at his residence for an hour and a half, drafting a reaction to the construction plan that began with the word “condemn”. A vocabulary choice, that he made clear in his Tel Aviv University speech, was coordinated with US President Barak Obama himself. During the past 20 years no one can recall an instance of America condemning Israel and usually the US vetoes UN security Council resolution that use the word “condemn” against Israel. “Condemn” is a word usually reserved for North Korea, the Soviet Union and other evil, murderous dictatorships.
Then, Biden warned Israelis and Palestinians that “the US will continue to hold both sides accountable for any statements or any actions that inflames tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks”.
But during the same visit of Biden to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on Thursday, PA representatives and dozens of Palestinians students from the youth division of Fatah, the party led by the President Mahmoud Abbas , gathered to dedicate a public square in a town abutting Ramallah to a memory of a Dala Murgharbi, a woman who in 1978 led a squad to carry out the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel‘s history . In the infamous Coastal Road Massacre 38 Israeli civilians including 13 children were killed along with a female American photographer. The PA representatives described the woman as a courageous fighter, a heroine and a martyr stating “she is a symbol for every Palestinian girl”. Neither Biden or Obama condemned or even mentioned such flagrant anti Israel incitement in violation of all Oslo agreements .
When Biden left on late Thursday, he told reporters that he accepted Netanyahu’s apology and that the crisis between US and Israel was behind them. However, the next day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the issue again and called Netanyahu by phone and for 45 minutes accused him of “insulting” the US, and ”undermining the trust and confidence in the peace process , and America’s interests”. As Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes stated, Obama had approved the Clinton call, sitting with her during the weekly meeting Thursday to determine “the specific points she would be making to the Prime Minister”. In her call Hillary appeared to link US military support for Israel to the construction in East Jerusalem and she made clear that “the Israeli government needed to demonstrate, not just through words but through specific actions, that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process”.
Such false accusations are truly insulting to Israel. Since Netanyahu came to power in February 2009, he agreed to commit his center– right coalition and for the first time his Likud party to acceptance of a Palestinian state; removed dozens of anti terror roadblock and checkpoints to ease the life for the Palestinians and assisted the West Bank economic development to the point where its gross domestic product is growing at an astounding 7 percent a year. He also agreed to the West bank construction freeze, a concession that Secretary Clinton herself termed “unprecedented” since no other previous Prime Minister agreed to such freeze including famous political doves, Peres and Rabin. Moreover, the refusal to freeze Jewish construction in Jerusalem areas that were always Jewish is consistent with 40 years of Israeli policy.
During Obama’s presidency Mahmoud Abbas has made no reciprocal gesture or concessions. As a matter fact since Obama’s inauguration, Abbas has refused even to resume direct negotiations with Israel and has only agreed to be involved in indirect “proximity” talks.
Hillary Clinton’s characterization of the Palestinian acceptance of such talks after 14 months of prodding as a “diplomatic achievement’, that the Israel announcement was undermining, is quite pathetic. Since the Oslo agreement was signed in 1993 there have been numerous direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. In 2008 alone, during the last year of President Bush, there were more than 250 direct meetings between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators and December 2008 saw the last meeting of Abbas with an Israeli Prime Minister. Moreover, Obama diversion strategy of confronting Israel and engaging Islamic rogue nations has been disastrous and not in the best interests of the United States.
The effort to prevent a nuclear Iran by appeasing the Iranian tyrants, and groveling for a dialogue has backfired with the clerics grip over the country stronger than ever and the regime much closer to possessing nuclear weapons. The deadlines set by Obama for crippling sanctions against Iran have long gone and Hillary is now speaking of June as time for another round of sanctions which both Russia and China warned they will veto. As a matter of fact, as recently as March 20, Russia snubbed American requests and stated their intention of starting up a new Russian built nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran.
Obama does not understand the dangers of his policy. Having a nuclear Iran is not only disastrous to Israel but also to the US and the World. Just imagine what would have happened if Hitler would have gotten a nuclear weapon before Germany was defeated militarily. Iran, just as Hitler at the time, has the design not only to kill Jews, but also to rule the world by controlling the oil rich Gulf Nations which control 50 percent of the world’s oil supply. The promise of “containing” a nuclear Iran, by convincing them not to use the nuclear weapon, will not work since the threat of nuclear attack will be enough for Iran to dictate oil prices, as well as the oil supply to the US and Europe. Then, the only option available to the US will be to conquer Iran perhaps resulting in a nuclear war which could destroy the oil supply and many countries in the process.