Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Can Israel Trust Obama? Not Really

Obama Flip-flops on Israel writes Jennifer Rubin -

Less than 48 hours after trotting out new, tougher language on Iran, President Obama revealed in his press conference how little substance lies behind his words. He struck a partisan note, claiming Republicans were “beating the drums of war” with Iran. So much for not making Iran a “political football,” as so many Democrats pleaded at AIPAC. Even worse, when pressed by ABC News’s Jake Tapper on what he meant by his comment that we “have Israel’s back,” the president answered that it was “not a military doctrine that we were laying out for any particular military action. . . . It was a restatement of our consistent position that the security of Israel is something I deeply care about . . . [and] confirms how deeply we care about it.” In other words, he was not pledging anything in particular to the Jewish state.This seemed to bolster conservatives’ view that Obama’s AIPAC rhetoric was meaningless. Bill Kristol, the co-founder of the Emergency Committee for Israel, blasted the president: “Barack Obama’s statements before AIPAC have a remarkably short shelf life. In 2008 he told AIPAC that Jerusalem must not be divided, and then retracted it the next day. Now, in 2012, he tells AIPAC that he’s got Israel’s back, and then retracts that two days later. For Obama, being pro-Israel seems to be a campaign strategy, not a foreign policy.”
William Kristol writes When Israel Acts, Will the U.S. Have Israel's Back? -

...President Obama['s]...timetable for acting against Iran would precisely undermine Israel's ability to determine her fate. President Obama wants to wait to act until Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. And by that point Iran will have entered what Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak calls a "zone of immunity"—when Israel, with lesser capabilities than the U.S., might well no longer be able to act to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Daniel Halper writes Obama: Having Israel’s Back ‘Not a Military Doctrine . . . for Any Particular Military Action’

President Obama clarified his statement from a speech Sunday Morning at AIPAC that he has Israel’s at press conference at the White House this afternoon.“What it means is that historically, we have always cooperated with Israel, with respect to the defense of Israel,” the president said in response to a question today from ABC's Jake Tapper. But then Obama expanded the statement to say the relationship is not unique to Israel, but it’s similar to America’s relationship with its allies altogether.

Bret Stephens provides background -

...if you're looking for evidence of Mr. Obama's disingenuousness when it comes to Israel, it's worth referring to what his supporters say about him.

Consider Peter Beinart, the one-time Iraq War advocate who has reinvented himself as a liberal scourge of present-day Israel and mainstream Zionism. Mr. Beinart has a book coming out next month called “The Crisis of Zionism.” Chapter five, on “The Jewish President,” fully justifies the cover price.

Mr. Beinart's case is that Mr. Obama came to his views about Israel not so much from people like his friend Rashid Khalidi or his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Instead, says Mr. Beinart, Mr. Obama got his education about Israel from a coterie of far-left Chicago Jews who “bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state.”

At the center of this coterie, Mr. Beinart explains, was a Chicago rabbi named Arnold Jacob Wolf. In 1969, Wolf staged a synagogue protest in favor of Black Panther Bobby Seale. In the early 1970s, he founded an organization that met with Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization—this being some 20 years before Arafat officially renounced terrorism. In the early 1990s, Wolf denounced the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

And, in 1996, the rabbi “was one of [Mr. Obama's] earliest and most prominent supporters” when he ran for the Illinois state Senate. Wolf later described Mr. Obama's views on Israel as “on the line of Peace Now”—an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Obama had other Jewish mentors, too, according to Mr. Beinart. One was Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, developer Philip Klutznick, had joined Wolf in “his break with the Israeli government in the 1970s.” Ms. Saltzman, writes Mr. Beinart, “still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups” and later became active in left-wing Jewish political groups like J Street. Among other things, it was she who “organized the rally against the Iraq War where Obama proclaimed his opposition to an American invasion.”

Ms. Saltzman also introduced Mr. Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to a group called the New Israel Fund. For a flavor of the NIF's world view, a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 noted that an NIF associate director told U.S. embassy officials in Tel Aviv that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”

Other things that we learn about Mr. Obama's intellectual pedigree from Mr. Beinart: As a student at Columbia, he honed his interests in colonialism by studying with the late pro-Palestinian agit-Prof. Edward Said. In 2004, Mr. Obama “criticized the barrier built to separate Israel and its major settlements from the rest of the West Bank”—the “barrier” meaning the security fence that all-but eliminated the wave of suicide bombings that took 1,000 lives in Israel.

Remember what I wrote yesterday?

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