What to Say When You’re Handed the Obama-Is-Good-for-Israel Talking Points
[Jews for Obama boast that] "Obama just gave Israeli President Shimon Peres a presidential medal
of freedom." Well, he also has just helped give Israel a second Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime next door and insists that this is a good thing.
Question: [Jews for Obama claim that] U.S.-Israel bilateral relations are good especially with regard to military aid.
Rubin: That’s true, but only a small part of that relates to Obama’s benevolence. Why?
a. Congress supports Israel. There was more pushback against Obama from Democratic members on this issue than on any other, foreign or domestic. Thus, Israel is the only “target” of Obama whose constituency has vocal defenders within his own party that raise the cost of his actions against it, at least during his first term. (Note that last phrase.)
b. The same applies to public opinion, which is strongly pro-Israel. This factor also inhibits Obama, at least during his first term. (Note that last phrase.)
c. Regarding military relations, the U.S. armed forces are generally quite pro-Israel and want these programs. Many of them are based on previous commitments, which Obama merely continues.
An especially important reason why Obama’s administration hasn’t been far more hostile to Israel in practice is that the Arabs and Iran shafted his policy. Remember that Obama offered to support the
Palestinians, pressure Israel, and accelerate talks if only the Arab states and Palestinian Authority showed some flexibility. They repeatedly rejected his efforts—refusing even to talk–giving him no
opportunity or incentive to press Israel for concessions. Note too, though, that the repeated humiliations handed him by the Arabs never made him criticize them publicly, change his general line, or back Israel more enthusiastically.
The same point applies to Iran. While Obama has intensified sanctions on Iran, he:
- Did so only after a long delay.
- Did less than Congress wanted/
- Exempted in effect China, Russia, and Turkey from observing the sanctions.
Finally, there’s the most important factor of all. The main damage Obama has done to Israeli security is neither so much in the area of bilateral relations nor regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict but
as a result of his regional policy in the Middle East. This includes his:
- Soft line toward antisemitic, anti-Israel, and also anti-American Islamism.
- Support for overturning the Mubarak regime and encouragement for a
Muslim Brotherhood takeover there. During the 2011 crisis, Obama never
even consulted Israel. The outspoken antisemitism, calls for genocide
against Israel’s citizens, and support for anti-Israel terrorism by the
Muslim Brotherhood have had no effect on Obama’s policy and brought no
criticism by the U.S. government of that movement.
Read Prof. Rubin's full points
- His soft line toward Hizballah in Lebanon, including breaking promises made to Israel to keep terrorists out of south Lebanon.
- Pressure on Israel to reduce sanctions on the Hamas regime in the
Gaza Strip greatly empowered that radical antisemitic movement.
- The Obama administration has been passive about the Fatah-Hamas
merger and has virtually never criticized or pressured the Palestinian
- By distancing himself from Israel–something everyone in the world
knows except about 60 percent of American Jews–he has encouraged
Israel’s enemies to be bolder and others to move away from support for
- One of his worst actions has been to come close to worshiping
Turkey’s Islamist regime, despite its tremendous hostility toward Israel.
Obama’s passivity has helped turn the Turkey-Israel alliance into
something verging on cold war. Since the Turkish regime continues to be
rewarded by Obama despite doing things like getting Israel barred from
the NATO meeting and indicting Israeli officers over the Gaza flotilla
confrontation, Ankara has no incentive to stop or reduce its enmity.
- In Syria, he has supported the installation of an Islamist
leadership for the opposition movement, posing a tremendous potential
future danger for Israel.
- Regarding Iran, Obama was very slow to take up the battle against
the nuclear weapons campaign. Despite the relatively high level of
sanctions (for which Congress deserves a lot of the credit), one can
well doubt his future determination to battle Tehran. He also failed to
support the Iranian opposition.
- And by weakening American credibility and alliances, Obama has
undermined the U.S. ability to protect its own interests which, in turn,
hurts Israel’s security.