Polls in recent months show that Americans, American Jews and Israelis disapprove of President Barack Obamas policies towards Israel. They oppose his Administration condemning Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem; his UN speech supporting linking U.S. support for Israels security to Israeli concession to the Palestinians; his comparing Israels 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 that Barack Obama would be hostile to Israel.
First, there is Obamas past affiliation and close friendships. For twenty years, he chose to attend, wed and have his daughters baptized in, Trinity United Church, a black supremacist church headed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whom, in 2005, Obama described as his friend and mentor. In 2007, Wrights church honored with a lifetime achievement award Nation of Islams Louis Farrakhan with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wright has a long record of vehemently anti-Israel sermons. His denunciations of Israel include blaming America for supporting Israeli state terrorism against Palestinians supporting Zionism shamelessly and urging 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 viciously anti-Israeli activists like Rashid Khalidi and Ali Abunimah. Khalidi, an academic and former PLO spokesman, has called 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 at pro-Israel think tanks.
Khalidi also blamed the Iraq war on neoconservatives seeking to make the Middle East safe not for democracy, but for Israeli hegemony they 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 Israels enemies.
In 2002, Obama, in opposing the Iraq war, named two of the most well-known Jewish figures in the Bush Administration Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and only these two figures, of being armchair, weekend warriors who were cynically attempting to have Bush topple Saddam a tune straight out of Khalidis playbook.
Abunimah is the author of a book calling for Israels 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 havent 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, Obamas policy was also foreshadowed by his many hostile Middle East advisers prior to becoming president. One was Robert Malley, who has urged that the 2003 Roadmap requirement for Palestinian to dismantle terrorist groups should be waived, that a comprehensive settlement be imposed, regardless of Israeli objections.
Obamas military advisor and national campaign co-chairman, Gen. Merrill Tony McPeak alleged in 2003 when asked why there was a lack of action in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, McPeak said, 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 advisor, Samantha Power, argued in April 2002 that the U.S. should stop financially supporting Israels 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 a further adviser well known for his hostility to Israel and who had publicly defended the John Mearsheimer-Stephen Walt assault on the pro-Israeli lobby.
Fourth, even in making pro-Israel statements during his run for the White House, Obama showed his colors by, for example, calling one day before a large Jewish audience for an undivided Jerusalem and recanting that view the very next day, saying Jerusalem had to be negotiated. He also supported the so-called Arab Peace Initiative during his presidential campaign, a plan which 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 of this was known before the 2008 elections. We should be concerned or outraged at Obamas attitude and policy towards Israel, but not surprised.
Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America