President Obama took the stage on Sunday morning March 4th at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference to deliver proof of his unwavering support for Israel. He declared to AIPAC’s fervent pro-Israel audience that his commitment to Israel’s security has been unprecedented. “When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back,” he said. But the president’s assurances ring hollow with those familiar with the actual historical record of the administration’s treatment of the Jewish State — a record amply outlined by David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin in the Freedom Center’s pamphlet, “Obama and the War Against the Jews.” The president’s latest twisted representation of his “pro-Israel” administration, therefore, is in need of untwisting.
The President began his speech by lavishing warm praise on Israeli President Shimon Peres, who had just previously said in his own speech that Israel has “a friend in the White House.” He announced that he will be inviting Peres to the White House later this spring to present him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “I am grateful for his life’s work and his moral example,” the President affirmed.
Obama offered no such praise for the resolute leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he is meeting this week, and who carries the real burdens of Israel’s security on his shoulders.
The Preisdent’s speech to AIPAC contained four major themes, which were previewed in his extensive interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic.
First, President Obama emphasized the strong, “unshakable” bond between the United States and the “Jewish state of Israel.” He referred not only to the two countries’ shared economic and security interests, but also to their common ideals of freedom and belief in human dignity:
The United States and Israel share interests, but we also share those human values that Shimon spoke about: A commitment to human dignity. A belief that freedom is a right that is given to all of God’s children. An experience that shows us that democracy is the one and only form of government that can truly respond to the aspirations of citizens.
President Obama also said that “we will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism” and will fight any efforts to de-legitimize the Jewish state.
Yet Obama failed to acknowledge that the Arab Spring, which his administration has strongly supported, is backfiring by producing conditions that are largely antithetical to the universal human values that the United States and Israel share in common. He failed to acknowledge that the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which his own administration has described in positive terms, threatens the durability of the three decade-old peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and is perpetuating the Arabs’ vicious slander against Zionism.
For example, Ali Abd Al-Fattah, a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt, said the following during an interview which aired on Palestine Today TV on February 19, 2012:
The time has come for the entire Egyptian and Arab people to unite against the Zionist-American enterprise. We can do without all the foreign aid and dictates, and we can liberate Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, by means of our determination and our capabilities… The time will come when all the Arab peoples will strive to realize their aspirations, and Arab Jerusalem – both East and West Jerusalem – will become the capital of the State of Palestine, the accursed Jews will return to wherever they came from, and all the Palestinian rights will be restored, like the Right of Return of the refugees, and the Arab land will be completely cleansed from Zionist filth.
President Obama missed a valuable opportunity to specifically contrast such hateful rhetoric, which is all too typical in the Muslim world, with Israel’s desire to live in freedom and peace with its neighbors.
President Obama’s second theme in his speech to AIPAC was that his words of support for Israel have been matched by his actions. “If you want to know where my heart lies, look at what I have done,” he said.
Obama claimed that “over the last three years, as President of the United States, I have kept my commitments to the state of Israel. At every crucial juncture — at every fork in the road — we have been there for Israel. Every single time.”
Obama listed several examples of his accomplishments, such as providing Israel with more advanced technology and increased military aid, including providing Israel with funding to deploy the Iron Dome system for the protection of Israeli civilians against rocket attacks.
“And make no mistake,” Obama said, “we will do what it takes to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge — because Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
The Obama administration does deserve credit for a number of actions it has taken in support of Israel’s military security, including its supplying Israel with bunker-busting bombs. However, while discussing what he has done for Israel, Obama might also have noted that the Israeli-American relationship is not a one-way street in which the United States always gives and Israel always takes, as some Americans seem to believe. Israel also contributes significantly to America’s security. In addition to shared intelligence, for example, an Israeli company has developed advanced armor technologies used in the majority of the U.S. vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to save thousands of lives of U.S. service men and women.
Obama also took credit in his speech for challenging the one-sided Goldstone Report that had unfairly singled out Israel’s actions during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, for staying away from the Durban “anti-racism” conferences, for opposing efforts to boycott and divest from Israel and for standing up for Israel in the United Nations.
However, if we use Obama’s own standard of judging him by his deeds, his record in unequivocally standing by our closest ally in the Middle East is mixed at best.
For example, President Obama decided that the United States should join the virulently anti-Israel United Nations Human Rights Council. He said that when “one-sided resolutions are brought up at the Human Rights Council, we oppose them.” But despite knowing the dismal track record of this Council, Obama nevertheless helped legitimize its actions by joining it in the first place. He intends for the United States to remain a paying member.
As Anne Bayefsky, director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College, explained:
What was the president’s response to the ritualized Jew-bating (sic) that carries on unabated in a global forum in the name of human rights? He is now actively seeking a second term on the Council for the United States.
Not once did President Obama make the equal treatment of the Jewish state a condition for remaining on this “human rights” body — notwithstanding that the whole foundation of the UN Charter is the “equal rights of nations large and small.”
With regard to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations towards a secure and lasting peace – the third theme of President Obama’s AIPAC speech – his actual deeds have strongly undercut his words of support for “a secure Israel that lives side by side with an independent Palestinian state.”
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