In Election 2008, 78% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama. That was when he sold himself as a friend of Israel, in fact, promising a delegation of Jews that Jerusalem would never be split, not while he was president. Barack Obama backtracked on that promise days later. But there were plenty of other warnings that Barack Obama might not prove to be the true friend of Israel that he purported to be. After assaults from the right revealed a growing list of Obama associates who are known Israel detractors, the Obama aura took a hit with Jews. Days before the election a worried Obama went so far as to leak that should he be elected, Jewish Rahm Emmanuel would become his chief of staff, such an announcement prior to a win a break with tradition.
I was in the Jewish shtetl of Florida those days before election 2008. Obama’s poll numbers were showing that Jews were worried. So he corralled his onetime nemesis and longtime friend of the Jewish community, Hillary Clinton, to post an editorial in the local papers, vowing for Barack Obama’s “Jewish” character. I recount these events in my book, A YEAR IN MY PAJAMAS WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA, the Politics of Strange Bedfellows.
Obama went on to win the election handily with the full support of the Jewish community. But not long after he was seated in the White House, the Jewish president became the Muslim Barack Hussein Obama in the eyes of many Jews, when he refused to break Challah with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and made him enter the White House through the backdoor.
Thus reality came home to roost and it was tough for many Jews to absorb the seemingly hostile president who had begun to pressure the Israeli’s on an array of concessions, while making no such demands on the intransigent Palestinians. Reports circulated and continue to do so that Obama and Netanyahu don’t particularly care for one another. Of course only those close to them know the truth; at the end of the day what does it matter anyway?
What does matter are these still unanswered questions: Is President Barack Obama inherently anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic? Is Barack Obama a closet Muslim, a man whose sympathies therefore lie with the Palestinians? As the President of the United States, is President Obama acting out of a concern for American interests and its long-term ally Israel? Or is Obama willing to sell-out Israel because he feels that the Arabs are controlling America’s economic destiny these days, since they control the vast amount of the world’s oil, and the price of oil will ultimately effect Obama’s reelection. Is Obama being held hostage by the Arab states to do something about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and if he does not, they will see to a higher price for oil? As absurd as some of these questions may sound, they are questions often raised by the public at-large.
Overtime, it appeared that the relationship between the two leaders had improved. But just when it appeared so, along came Obama’s speech last week in which he essentially told Israel that he would be the one to dictate the terms of the peace talks. Clearly, his Thursday speech was meant to steal Netanyahu’s thunder which would come this week in his speech to AIPAC and the joint session of Congress, while Obama was off in Europe schmoosing with British royalty and the G-8.
Indeed Obama changed the conversation, wittingly or unwittingly (which will be argued in the history books, I’m certain), stating that from here on in the ’67 lines would be the basis for an independent Palestinian state with mutual land swaps. Vey ist mier. If you’re paying attention to the story, you know what happened next. It wasn’t pretty. Conservatives went after Obama and accused him of everything they could possibly throw at him. The left defended him to the point of losing their credibility as their response was their typical knee-jerk it’s all Israel’s fault, the meme of the left these days, and apparently that of their leader, Barack Obama. The center, which didn’t like what Obama said/did, took the posture that Obama can pontificate all he wants because the chances of the two sides sitting down with one another any time soon, considering the new alliance between the Palestinian suit and tie terrorist organization led by Abu Mazen and the terrorist group Hamas have joined forces to take down Israel.
All that being said there are two points that need to be addressed here. The first: Why does Obama speak to the Jewish people as if they are children and only Barack Obama knows what is best for them? That is certainly the tone he used to address AIPAC Sunday, and one assumes is the tone he is using when he addresses Prime Minister Netanyahu in private. The tone is offensive particularly from a man who only two years ago had zero foreign policy experience.
And the larger question that I would like an answer to is why is this president continually getting in public dust-ups with Prime Minister Netanyahu and a large segment of world Jewry?
It’s unseemly. Spats amongst friends shouldn’t reach the public. But it is the reality, a reality that speaks to a huge failing on the part of the President of the United States.
I don’t buy into this administration’s jazzy line that good friends can have spats but it doesn’t mean anything. It very much does on the world stage. It plays into the hands of our ally Israel’s enemies. For this and for the reasons stated above, I blame the president for the current worldwide efforts to de-legitimize Israel. And I note that in their joint press op following their reported spirited private meeting last week, I saw none of the surliness present in Bibi Netanyahu in their joint statements before the press corps following their reported Bibi was the mensch: earnest, sincere, poetic, and heartfelt. The president’s posture, on the other hand, was a familiar one. He displayed it all too often during the primary debates when his nemesis then was Hillary Clinton. He appeared peevish, annoyingly professorial, and he imposed an air of superiority to an equal head of state. In a word: he came off as a shmegegge…which is bad, but not as bad as the code name Scotland Yard has given the president during his visit to the UK: Chalque, the Punjabi word meaning Smart Alec.
Oy vey! It seems the truth.