The recent reluctance of the US to veto UN resolution 2234, which essentially singles out Israeli construction as the main obstacle to a two state solution has been seen by some as the final nail in the coffin in a combative relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu that has endured throughout both terms of the Obama presidency.
While this may be obvious, I doubt it will silence those who are still convinced Obama is a strong, reliable friend to Israel. Indeed, in his post UN resolution justification speech at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry said “no American administration has done more for the security of Israel than Barack Obama.”
Such self-promoting observations make convincing sound bites, regardless of their accuracy. However, since the door is about to close permanently on the Obama administration, it might be worthwhile to check Kerry’s comment against the facts.
A stroll down memory lane of the Obama tenure recalls the following:
Right out the starting gate his first phone call to a foreign leader in January, 2009 was to Mahmould Abbas, letting him know he was the first foreign leader he called as President of the United States.
In June 2009 his first foreign speech was delivered in Cairo where he signaled a new era in US-Muslim relations. He made the following comments during the speech:
“the United States does not accept the continued legitimacy of Israeli settlements.”
“they (Palestinians) endure daily humiliation, large and small, that come with occupation.”
He signaled a new approach toward Iran (the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism) by letting Israel know their flexibility toward the Palestinians would influence Obama’s approach to Iran. In effect he was invoking diplomatic blackmail against Israel.
He demanded Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and threatened to expose a 40 year old confidential understanding between Israel and the US about its Dimona nuclear facility if Israel didn’t sign the NNPT. Israel did not. Obama retaliated by interrupting routine travel of Israeli nuclear scientists between the two countries.
In 2010 after seeing a clear pattern of hostility toward Israel, over 50 retired US Generals signed a letter to Obama demanding he stop treating Israel so poorly and treat them like ally they are.
Also in 2010, in an unprecedented move, both houses of Congress having seen the same hostile pattern, signed letters telling Obama to stop treating Israel so poorly.
Apparently Obama didn’t get the message. The same year he walked out on a White House meeting with Netanyahu, leaving him sitting alone. While Obama had dinner with his wife Michelle Netanyahu was let in and out of a side door to the White House with no diplomatic fanfare.
Subsequent to this Mahmoud Abbas was welcomed with full diplomatic protocol and fanfare.
In 2011 Egypt ousted Hosni Mubarak, a 30 year US ally, replacing him with Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim fundamentalist and member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama openly supported Morsi. This brought a further chill in US-Israel relations. A little over a year later the Egyptians voted Morsi out. Obama voiced his opposition to Morsi’s purging. Today, Morsi remains in prison.
In May 2011 while Netanyahu was airborne in route to Washington, to address a joint session of Congress Obama spoke to Congress urging any two state solution should be based on ’67 lines, with mutual land swaps. The timing of Obama’s speech was seen as an effort to sabotage Netanyahu. Following Obama’s speech, in an unprecedented bi-partisan move, Republican and Democratic leaders condemned Obama’s speech and publically distanced themselves from the President. When Netanyahu delivered his speech to the joint session of Congress he received 30 standing ovations, which was largely seen as a rebuke of President Obama, who along with Vice President Biden and John Kerry, were noticeably absent during Netanyahu’s speech.
In March 2013 in Ramallah Mahmoud Abbas referred to Israel’s 1948 rebirth as “the Nakba,” (the catastrophe), while Obama stood next to him in silence.
During Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 war with Hamas (who has fired over 15,000 rockets into Israel against innocent civilians) Obama threatened to stop US arms supply to Israel.
In 2015 Israel was gearing up for new elections. Jeremy Bird, a democratic strategist who helped the 2012 Obama campaign, was dispatched to Israel in an effort to help defeat Netanyahu. This brought harsh criticism of Obama for what was seen as a direct effort to influence Israeli elections. In the end the effort failed as Netanyahu was re-elected. Today he has become the longest serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history.
Finally, in what was called by many as the single most damaging decision Obama made is the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. No other move has caused greater concern for Israel’s security than this agreement. While there remains robust disagreement on the deal’s justification, there is little doubt Israel has the most to lose.
To be fair to Obama, there has been an occasional bright spot. For example the US did award Israel a $38 billion 10 year defense package, which is the largest ever. Yet, it does part from previous such packages in that by year three 100% of the funds must be spent in the US. Prior agreements allowed Israel to award up to 24% of the funds to their own defense contractors. The absence of this option will have a severe impact on small – medium companies and put thousands of Israeli’s out of work.
There are numerous other examples of how the Obama administration has been a blight on relations with the strongest ally the US has in the Middle East, however I believe the short list contained herein constitutes more than enough facts to render Kerry’s words about the Obama Administration commitment to Israel’s security little more than what they are- mere words, with little or no facts to corroborate them. The reality shows the Obama administration has been one of, if not the most hostile ever toward Israel.
Meanwhile 4 more Israeli’s were just murdered in the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism which began in October, 2015. To date President Obama has not held Palestinian leadership accountable for a single Israeli death.
As the old saying goes, with “friends” like this…..
President Obama, your legacy has been secured. Time for an actual friend of Israel to take over…..