Can Israel depend on President Obama in a crunch?
July 8, 2010




By Dr. Michael Goldblatt
Chairman, Zionist Organization of America


PHILADELPHIA–It is clear that Israel faces some serious dangers and lurking threats, most obviously the threat of nuclear-armed Iran whose regime speaks frequently of a world without Israel and America. Three Iranian presidents have spoken publicly of seeing Israel eliminated by nuclear strikes, despite the costs that would be exacted by Israeli retaliation. Israel has in Tehran an enemy that cannot be deterred or appeased.

At a time like this, Israel is short of allies: as the Gaza flotilla incident last month showed, the whole word can rise in condemnation of Israel for merely defending itself by enforcing a legal blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. Even the United States did not defend Israel: on the contrary, President Obama called for an international inquiry and allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that didn’t mention Israel by name but which everyone understood to be a condemnation of Israel.

Israel has often been able to count on U.S. support in times of extreme danger. Harry Truman disregarded the advice of the entire State Department to support the creation of Israel in November 1947 and to recognize it when it came into being in May 1948. This occurred even though it was widely regarded in foreign policy circles that American interests would suffer.

In 1967, Lyndon Johnson felt unable to build an international naval force to break Egypt’s blockade of Israel’s southern port, Eilat, but he backed Israel’s successful pre-emptive strike on Egypt and Syria and gave Israel diplomatic backing in the aftermath to ensure Israel was not compelled to withdraw without peace and recognition from the Arab belligerents.

In 1973, when Israel suffered a surprise assault by the combined Egyptian and Syrian armies and was in grave danger, Richard Nixon cut through the bureaucratic delays and authorized a massive airlift of arms to Israel. But today, can Israel count on Barack Obama in a moment of crisis?

The answer is likely to be no. 

Since becoming president, Obama and his senior officials have linked the extent of their support for Israel to the extent of Israel’s continuing concessions to the Palestinians. Vice-President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have all indicated this. They have also warned Israel not to strike Iran militarily. In short, on the gravest existential threat to Israel, Obama is doing little to stop Iran while being determined to stop Israel from taking military action.
Obama has been aggressively critical of Israel and demanded that it make unilateral concessions to the Palestinians. Israel has done so – it has frozen Jewish construction in the West Bank for 10 months, something no other Israeli government ever did, and accepted in principle setting up a Palestinian Authority (PA)-run state. Yet the PA has still refused direct negotiations with Israel.

This reality has not made Obama supportive of Israel. On the contrary, he has claimed that both sides have failed to make bold gestures for peace. As for Palestinian glorification of terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi and other examples of incitement to hatred and murder, Obama has simply ignored them.

When the Israeli government protested the honoring of Mughrabi and other instances of inciting hatred and violence, the Obama Administration still did nothing. Obama rarely mentions incitement and even when he has he has not made an end to it as a precondition for further US support for the PA. On the contrary, he has increased aid to the Palestinians last month by $400 million.

None of this bodes well for Israel in a future crisis. Nor to does the fact that so many of Obama’s senior Middle East advisers, past and present, are hostile to Israel. One of them, Robert Malley has urged recognizing Hamas, imposing a settlement on Israel while ignoring the 2003 Roadmap requirements of the Palestinians to stop terror and incitement. He has also blamed Israel for the failure of the 2000 negotiations. 
Another, former Carter National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has called for Israelis planes to be shot down if they attempt to strike Iran. Obama’s presidential campaign co-chairman, General Merill ‘Tony’ McPeak, blamed the failure of American Middle East peace efforts, not on nasty Arab regimes, but on the allegedly obstructive power of American Jewish voters. Obama presidential campaign foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, once argued 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. The list goes on.

Add to that the twenty years Obama spent in the pews of anti-Israel, black supremacist pastor, Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church, and the friendships he formed with viciously anti-Israeli partisans like former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi and one-state advocate Ali Abunimah, and the picture does not look good: this a president with a background of radical anti-Israel friends and mentors, hostile advisers and dangerous policies. Who believes he will be there for Israel if and when it comes to the crunch?

Dr. Michael Goldblatt is a clinical psychologist practicing in Pennsylvania & National Chairman of the Board of the Zionist Organization of America.

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