by Nile Gardiner
Reprinted from Telegraph.co.uk.
Last week Israel celebrated its 62nd year as a nation, but there was major cause for concern amid the festivities as the Israeli people faced the looming menace of a nuclear-armed Iran, as well as the prospect of a rapidly deteriorating relationship with Washington. The Israel-bashing of the Obama administration has become so bad that even leading Democrats are now speaking out against the White House. New York Senator Chuck Schumer blasted Barack Obama’s stance towards Israel in a radio interview last week, stating his “counter-productive” Israel policy “has to stop”.
At the same time a poll was released by Quinnipiac University which showed that US voters disapproved of the president’s Israel policy by a margin of 44 to 35 percent. According to the poll, “American voters say 57 – 13 percent that their sympathies lie with Israel and say 66 – 19 percent that the president of the United States should be a strong supporter of Israel.”
I recently compiled a list of Barack Obama’s top ten insults against Britain, America’s closest ally in the world. This is a sequel of sorts, a list of major insults by the Obama administration against America’s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. As I wrote previously on Obama’s treatment of both Britain and Israel:
In the space of just over a year, Barack Obama has managed to significantly damage relations with America’s two closest friends, while currying favour with practically every monstrous dictatorship on the face of the earth. The doctrine of “smart power” has evolved into the shameless appeasement of America’s enemies at the expense of existing alliances. There is nothing clever about this approach – it will ultimately weaken US global power and strengthen the hand of America’s enemies, who have become significantly emboldened and empowered by Barack Obama’s naïve approach since he took office.
The Obama presidency is causing immense damage to America’s standing in the free world, while projecting an image of weakness in front of hostile regimes. Its treatment of both Israel and Britain is an insult and a disgrace, and a grim reflection of an unbelievably crass and insensitive foreign policy that significantly undermines the US national interest.
So here’s my top 10 list of Obama administration insults against Israel after just 15 months in power:
1. Obama’s humiliation of Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House
In March, the Israeli Prime Minister was humiliated by Barack Obama when he visited Washington. As The Telegraph reported, “Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family”, after being presented with a list of 13 demands. As I wrote at the time:
This is no way to treat America’s closest ally in the Middle East, and a true friend of the United States. I very much doubt that even third world tyrants would be received in such a rude fashion by the president. In fact, they would probably be warmly welcomed by the Obama White House as part of its “engagement” strategy, while the leaders of Britain and Israel are frequently met with arrogant disdain.
2. Engaging Iran when Tehran threatens a nuclear Holocaust against Israel
In contrast to its very public humiliation of close ally Israel, the Obama administration has gone out of its way to establish a better relationship with the genocidal regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , which continues to threaten Israel’s very existence. It has taken almost every opportunity to appease Tehran since it came to office, and has been extremely slow to respond to massive human rights violations by the Iranian regime, including the beating, rape and murder of pro-democracy protesters.
3. Drawing a parallel between Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with the current plight of the Palestinians
In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, President Obama condemned Holocaust denial in the Middle East, but compared the murder of six million Jews during World War Two to the “occupation” of the Palestinian territories, in a disturbing example of moral equivalence:
“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”
4. Obama’s attack on Israeli “occupation” in his speech to the United Nations
In his appalling speech to the UN General Assembly last September, President Obama dedicated five paragraphs to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, without once referring directly to Palestinian terrorism by name, but declaring to loud applause “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” He also lambasted the Israeli “occupation”, and drew a connection between rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with living conditions in Gaza. The speech served as a ghastly PR exercise aimed at appeasing anti-Israel sentiment in the Middle East, while bashing the Israelis over the head.5. Obama’s accusation that Israel is the cause of instability in the Middle East
As The Wall Street Journal noted, “the Obama Administration seems increasingly of the view that Israel is the primary cause of instability in the Middle East”, citing a recent press conference where he stated:
“It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”
6. The Obama administration’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Syria
While actively appeasing Iran, the Obama administration has also sought to develop closer ties with the other main state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East, Syria, establishing diplomatic relations with Damascus in February. Syria remains a major backer of Hamas and Hizbollah, both responsible for a large number of terrorist attacks against Israel.
7. Hillary Clinton ’s 43-minute phone call berating Netanyahu
As The Telegraph reported, Hillary Clinton sought to dictate terms to Israel in the wake of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem:
“In a telephone call, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, ordered Mr. Netanyahu to reverse a decision to build 1,600 homes for Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem that sparked the diplomatic row. She also instructed him to issue a formal pledge that peace talks would focus on core issues such as the future of Jerusalem and the borders of a Palestinian state. In addition, the Israeli prime minister was urged to make a substantial confidence-building gesture to the Palestinians. Mrs. Clinton suggested this could take the form of prisoner releases, an easing of the blockade of Gaza and the transfer of greater territory in the West Bank to Palestinian control.”
Last time I checked, Israel was still an independent country, and not a colonial dependency of the Obama White House. Yet that still hasn’t stopped the Secretary of State from acting like an imperial Viceroy.
It is extremely unusual for a White House official to launch an attack on a close US ally on live television, but this is exactly what the President’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod did in an interview in March with NBC’s Meet the Press, designed to cause maximum humiliation to Israel, where he stated in reference to new settlement construction in East Jerusalem:
“This was an affront, it was an insult but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to that region. For this announcement to come at that time was very destructive.”
9. Hillary Clinton’s call on Israel to show “respect”
As The Telegraph revealed, the Secretary of State lectured the Israelis at a dinner attended by the Israeli ambassador and the ambassadors of several Arab states in mid-April, urging Israel to “refrain from unilateral statements” that could “undermine trust or risk prejudicing the outcome of talks”. In Clinton’s words:
“Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu has embraced the vision of the two-state solution. But easing up on access and movement in the West Bank, in response to credible Palestinian security performance, is not sufficient to prove to the Palestinians that this embrace is sincere. We encourage Israel to continue building momentum toward a comprehensive peace by demonstrating respect for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, stopping settlement activity and addressing the humanitarian needs in Gaza.”
10. Robert Gibbs ’ disparaging remarks about Israel
Not one to shy away from criticizing America’s friends when the opportunity arises, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs entered the fray in an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace in March where he attacked the Israeli government for weakening “the trust that’s needed for both sides to come together and have honest discussions about peace in the Middle East.” In condescending terms he stated that Benjamin Netanyahu should start “coming to the table with constructive ideas for constructive and trustful dialogue about moving the peace process forward.”Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.