The campaign to delegitimize President Obama

By STEVE SHEFFEY
November 28, 2011 22:39

Opponents of territorial compromise are terrified Obama is serious about helping Israel realize dream of 2 states living side by side.

3 minute read.



Obama addresses the 2011 AIPAC conference

Obama AIPAC 311 . (photo credit: Screenshot)

The campaign to delegitimize US President Barack Obama in the eyes of pro-Israel voters will only intensify between now and November 6.

Opponents of territorial compromise are terrified that President Obama is serious about helping Israel realize the dream of two states living in peace and security side by side.

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Opponents of territorial compromise and Americans who use concern for Israel to mask concern about paying their fair share of taxes compose most of the 20-25 percent of Jews who vote Republican. But that’s not enough to win an election; hence their efforts to distort President Obama’s record on Israel. Most Jews support the Democratic domestic agenda, so if there is no reason to oppose the president based on Israel, there is no reason to oppose him at all.

Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad, ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin-Laden, done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program, restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the previous administration, increased security assistance to Israel to record levels, boycotted Durban II and Durban III, taken USIsrael military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels, cast his only veto in the UN against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution, opposed the Goldstone Report, stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla, and is mounting a diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

Obama’s record on Israel compares favorably to any Republican president. In much the same way that Republicans attacked John Kerry’s strengths through the Swift Boat distortions of his record, we can look for critics of President Obama to use three techniques between now and next November.

• Repetition of falsehoods

Negative attacks work even when their audience eventually learns they are false because they plant in the brain an impression that can never fully be erased. That’s why we keep hearing about “snubs” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and calls for “return to the 67 lines” (by repeating them here, I’m falling into the trap). Because we are so concerned about Israel, these baseless attacks can’t help but make us wonder why these allegations keep coming up if there wasn’t something to them.

Even after these attacks are disproven, they raise doubts about the credibility of those who unveil the falsehoods. Instead of questioning the credibility of those who sling one pile of mud after another in the hope that something will stick (they all stick, subconsciously – that’s the idea), we question those who successfully refute falsehood after falsehood, saying to ourselves “these people defend Obama again and again, no matter what. What would it take for these people to admit Obama is bad for Israel?”

• Baseless speculation

We heard for weeks that President Obama might not pull out of Durban II, the anti-Israel hatefest, but his decision to boycott Durban II was just one story, one day. We heard for weeks that President Obama might back a UN resolution criticizing Israel, but his veto was just one story, one day. We are now hearing, based on a snippet of French translation of one sentence that itself is neutral, that Obama might dislike Bibi Netanyahu. What matters is the president’s actual record on Israel, not his personal opinion of an Israeli leader. If disliking Netanyahu is anti-Israel, is disliking Obama anti-American? If so, there’s a lot of anti-Americanism on the Right.

• Guilt by association

President Obama has surrounded himself with pro-Israel advisers, from Hillary Clinton to Dan Shapiro to Joe Biden to Rahm Emanuel. Yet we still hear about alleged influences from Obama’s past. Obama has been president for nearly three years. Evaluate President Obama the way the pro- Israel community has always evaluated our leaders and representatives: by looking at what they’ve done, not by trying to read their minds or via conjectures about influences that are impossible to prove or disprove.

If unprecedented military cooperation between the US and Israel, unambiguous opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and unrelenting defense of Israel in international forums is what happens when someone knows Jeremiah Wright, we ought to send all our candidates to his church. President Obama’s record proves that he is one of the best friends of Israel ever to occupy the White House. The only question is whether attempts to manipulate the emotions of pro-Israel voters by distorting the president’s record will succeed. The answer depends on our ability to separate fact from fiction.

The writer is a long-time pro-Israel and Jewish communal activist based in Chicago.


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