|US President Barack Obama 370 (R).(Photo by: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)|
Barack Obama: Conceited-in-chief
By MICHAEL FREUND
Fundamentally Freund: Now, instead of biting his lip, Obama is choosing to give Israel some lip.
Anyone who thought that a victory in the November elections would bring out the
softer, gentler side of Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel was bound to be in
for a rude awakening.
It was, after all, fairly clear that in the run-up
to the presidential balloting, Obama was on his best behavior as he courted the
Jewish vote. He refrained from slamming Israel and instead sought to portray
himself as “having Israel’s back.”
But now, instead of biting his lip,
Obama is choosing to give Israel some lip.
With less than a week to go
before Israelis go to the polls, the occupant of the White House decided to take
time out of his busy schedule and brazenly interfere in the Jewish state’s
In a barely-concealed leak to journalist Jeffrey
Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine, Obama launched a stinging broadside against
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Goldberg wrote that after the
president was informed of Netanyahu’s decision to build in E-1, which would
connect Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim, Obama “didn’t even bother getting
“He told several people,” Goldberg said, “that this sort of
behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested
that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his
Furthermore, Goldberg noted, “in Obama’s view,
Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total
This anecdote was nothing less than Obama’s gift to Israel’s
left, as they struggle to gain traction with the Israeli electorate.
effect, he handed Tzipi Livni, Shelly Yechimovitch and the extremists of Meretz
a formidable talking point, enabling them to cite the ostensible leader of the
free world as they bash Netanyahu’s policies.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t
take Livni long to do just that.
Within hours of the publication of
Obama’s remarks, Livni went on the offensive, convening a press conference in
Tel Aviv to say that the president’s statement showed that there was a need for
“a dramatic change” in Israel’s leadership.
In other words, Obama has now
stuck his nose directly into Israel’s electoral contest.
THIS IS nothing
less than a heavy-handed affront to a close US ally and it shows just how petty
Peeved at what he perceived as Netanyahu’s support for his
opponent Mitt Romney, the president decided to take revenge by lending a helping
hand to Israel’s Left.
But as is his habit, Obama went too far and
overstepped the bounds of decency. According to Goldberg, in the period
following the unilateral Palestinian move at the United Nations late last year,
Obama said in private conversations that “Israel does not know what its own best
He added that Obama believes that “Iran poses a
short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term
This crude condescension is breathtakingly offensive on so many
For Obama to suggest that Israel does not know what is best for
itself is eerily reminiscent of the colonial mindset, which in bygone days
looked down on the poor savages and felt compelled to teach them a thing or two
“for their own good.”
Moreover, for a man presiding over a mounting
national debt of $16.4 trillion, and who spends taxpayer money like a drunken
sailor on shore leave, it is Obama who doesn’t seem to grasp what his own
country’s best interests are, let alone those of Israel.
And to assert
that Israel’s policies pose a greater threat to the future of the state than the
Ayatollahs’ atomic ambitions is a slap in the face to Israel’s democratic
This is not your run-of-themill arrogance. It is hostility
wrapped in condescension and swathed in disdain.
With this latest shot
across Israel’s bow, the commanderin- chief has taken upon himself a new role,
that of the conceited-in-chief.
Indeed, the last time a senior American
official spoke with such antagonism towards the Jewish state was in June 1990,
when then-secretary of state James Baker publicly complained that the Israeli
government wasn’t willing to make enough concessions to the
After reading aloud the phone number for the White House
switchboard – 1-202-456-1414 – he told Israel’s leadership, “When you’re serious
about peace, call us.”
It is essential that American Jewry speak out
loudly and clearly against Obama’s insulting tone and aggressive
This is not the kind of rhetoric that a president should be using
when talking about America’s closest ally in the Middle East, and it only serves
to bolster what many of us had warned about prior to the November elections:
Obama is no friend of the Jewish state.
Whatever he may think of Israel’s
policies, common decency – as well as common sense – dictate that Obama should
respect the wishes of the Israeli public and their elected
Thankfully, the president’s slurs are unlikely to have any
discernible outcome on Israel’s elections, which Netanyahu is expected to
But with four more years to go until Obama leaves office, this
latest slight may be just the start of what could prove to be a very long – and
very unpleasant – second term.