In his first fourteen months President Obama has driven US/Israel relations to his lowest point since George HW Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker said of deteriorating relations, “”F” The Jews, They Wont Vote For US Anyway”
The President and the Secretary of State have botched up the relations with Israel from the very beginning. And it will get worse before it gets better. The fact is the only way it will get better is Obama leaving office.
Yesterday after the public and private scolding by the vice president over the building of housing units in Jerusalem, Hillary Clinton, continued the hollering, as she scolded Bibi Netanyahu over the phone. Afterward her office practically bragged about the scolding to the media.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described the nearly 45-minute phone conversation in unusually undiplomatic terms, signaling that the close allies are facing their deepest crisis in two decades after the embarrassment suffered by Vice President Biden this week when Israel announced during his visit that it plans to build 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem.
Clinton called Netanyahu “to make clear the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president’s trip,” Crowley said. Clinton, he said, emphasized that “this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”
In her call, Clinton appeared to link U.S. military support for Israel to the construction in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians view as the site for their future capital. “The secretary said she could not understand how this happened, particularly in light of the United States’ strong commitment to Israel’s security,” Crowley said. “She made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate, not just through words but through specific actions, that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process.”
While the timing of the Israel’s announcement of 1600 housing added to existing housing developments was not great, there was nothing wrong at all with the announcement itself. Israel has always considered all of Jerusalem as it capital and has never agreed to stop building in her capital. Even the ten month freeze that Netanyahu offered did not include Jerusalem. America’s insistence that Israel cannot build onto existing neighborhoods in her capital not only breaks previous agreements but is bigoted in nature. The same government that would not stand for one of her own cities keeping Jews from moving in, is insisting that Jews are not allowed to live in their holiest city.
The Obama administration’s reaction was so over the top that even the ADL’s Abe Foxman, who usally puts his proggressive politics in front of the mission of his organization, complained.
“We are shocked and stunned at the Administration’s tone and public dressing down of Israel on the issue of future building in Jerusalem,” ADL director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States. One can only wonder how far the U.S. is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table.”
“It is especially troubling that this harsh statement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly and privately explained to Vice President Biden the bureaucratic nature in making the announcement of proposed new building in Jerusalem, and Biden accepted the prime minister’s apology for it. Therefore, to raise the issue again in this way is a gross overreaction to a point of policy difference among friends.
“The Administration should have confidence and trust in Israel whose tireless pursuit for peace is repeatedly rebuffed by the Palestinians and whose interests remain in line with the United States.”
Former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams places the blame squarely at the feet of the President.
The current friction in U.S.-Israel relations has one source: the mishandling of those relations by the Obama administration. Poll data show that Israel is as popular as ever among Americans. Strategically we face the same enemies — such as terrorism and the Iranian regime — a fact that is not lost on Americans who know we have one single reliable, democratic ally in the Middle East.
The two problems that bedevil relations with Israel are Iran policy and Israeli settlements. On Iran, we say nuclear weapons would be “unacceptable” but want to rely solely on sanctions to stop them — and administration officials go out of their way to say any use of force would be catastrophic. Not surprisingly Israelis wonder if we’re serious — and if, as is likely, sanctions prove too weak to succeed, so will many Americans.
On settlements, the Obama administration demanded a 100 percent construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, something never required before even by the Palestinians as a precondition for negotiations. This stance cornered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who could demand no less, and led the U.S. administration last week to “condemn” the announcement of plans for Israeli construction that is years away. The verb “condemn” is customarily reserved by U.S. officials for acts of murder and terrorism — not acts of housing.
As this example shows, the Obama administration continues to drift away from traditional U.S. support for Israel. But time and elections will correct that problem; Israel has a higher approval rating these days than does President Obama
Just before the 2008 election I wrote this in an article for American Thinker:
Whether he wins or loses, all signs point to the fact is Barack Obama will receive the majority of the Jewish vote in the presidential elections. But even a few percentage point shift in the Jewish vote can mean a McCain win in some of the key battleground states.
The astounding part of that is that Obama is receiving the vote DESPITE the fact that he has assembled a crew of advisers that have a negative opinion of Israel. Despite that a Barack Obama presidency may turn out to be the most anti-Israel administration since George HW Bush…..
….A Barack Obama Presidency would return US/Israel relations back to the days of James Baker’s “They have my number they can call me.” A US trying to impose a dangerous one-sided solution on the Jewish State.
I have never been so unhappy to be correct.
You Can Find More of Jeff Dunetz’s Writing at his Blog, The Lid