At the risk of sounding like a teenage magazine agony aunt, here’s my definition
of a true friend: A true friend is someone who will always look out for you,
will protect your best interests and, when the situation demands it, tell you
straight to your face a truth you might not particularly want to hear.
other words, a true friend will act exactly the way US President Barack Obama
has acted toward Israel throughout his entire presidency.
Let’s take a
look at the facts. In terms of hard cash, Obama sent Israel the largest-ever
amount of security assistance funding in 2010 ($2.775 billion) and raised that
to $3 billion for 2011. Particularly importantly, under Obama’s
direction, the US Congress authorized an additional $205 million for the Iron
Dome short-range rocket defense system, designed to stop missiles from Hamas and
But of course, a true friendship is not based on financial
gifts. We expect a friend to put themselves out for us when we’re in trouble and
to pick up the phone when we desperately need help. Obama has done both,
countless times, over the course of his presidency.
When an Egyptian mob
was storming the Israeli embassy in Cairo at the beginning of the revolution
there, it was Obama who picked up Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s phone call
and made sure the Egyptian authorities rescued the trapped embassy
As Netanyahu said at the time: “I would like to express my
gratitude to the President of the United States Barack Obama. I asked for his
help. This was a decisive and fateful moment. He said, ‘I will do
everything I can.’ And so he did. He used every considerable means and influence
of the United States to help us. We owe him a special measure of
gratitude. This attests to the strong alliance between Israel and the
In the United Nations, America under Obama’s leadership
has come to Israel’s diplomatic rescue time and time again. Obama sided with
Jerusalem in opposing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s attempt to
achieve international recognition for Palestinian statehood at the UN, telling
the United Nations General Assembly that: “Peace will not come through
statements and resolutions at the United Nations.”
Again, a grateful
Netanyahu issued a statement of support for the president: “I want to thank you,
Mr. President, for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct
And it hasn’t been just words at the UN. Despite strong
international pressure, Obama used the first Security Council veto of his
administration to block a resolution condemning Israel for settlement
construction – making the US the only country on the 15- member Security Council
not to support the resolution.
The US also boycotted the 2009 United
Nation’s conference on racism (Durban II) due to concerns of anti- Semitism and
anti-Israel sentiment and rejected the Goldstone report on Operation Cast Lead
as “unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable.” After Turkey
barred Israel from participating in an October 2009 NATO exercise to protest the
Gaza operation, the United States pulled out of the drill, resulting in its
indefinite postponement. Soon afterward, US troops joined Israel for
their largest-ever joint military exercises in missile defense.
Israel’s alliance with the US is viewed exclusively through the prism of Iran,
and here again, Obama is acting a true friend should. He has offered Israel
American support, saying the US “has Israel’s back.” He has also insisted that
should sanctions against Tehran fail, he will order the US military to destroy
Iran’s nuclear program.
In fact, you can’t get any clearer or more
decisive than Obama has been on the Iranian issue. What irks Obama’s right-wing
critics (who, let’s be honest, have such a deep-rooted antipathy toward him they
will never give him any credit, not even for succeeding where George W. Bush
failed and killing Osama bin-Laden) is the fact that Obama is not prepared to
encourage Israel to rush, gung-ho, into war.
Obama sees a nuclear Iran as
unacceptable. As he told The Atlantic
: “The dangers of an Iran getting
nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is
something that I think would be very dangerous for the world,” and he promised
that “when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear
weapon, we mean what we say.”
But Obama believes that a premature Israeli
attack would only serve to aid Iran. “At a time when there is not a lot of
sympathy for Iran and its only real ally, [Syria,] is on the ropes, do we want a
distraction in which suddenly Iran can portray itself as a victim?” Obama is
right here, and as a true friend of Israel, he is acting correctly in telling us
this. We should learn to listen to our friends.The writer is a former
The Jerusalem Post.
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