US election season is clearly upon us as US President Barack Obama has moved
into full campaign mode. Part and parcel of that mode is a new bid to woo Jewish
voters and donors upset by Obama’s hostility to Israel back in the Democratic
To undertake this task, the White House turned to its
reliable defender, columnist Jeffrey Goldberg. Since 2008, when then-candidate
Obama was first challenged on his anti-Israel friends, pastors and positions,
Goldberg has willingly used his pen to defend Obama to the American Jewish
Trying to portray Obama as pro-Israel is not a simple task.
From the outset of his tenure in office, Obama has distinguished himself as the
most anti-Israel president ever.
Obama is the first president ever to
denounce Jewish property rights in Jerusalem. He is the first president to
require Israel to deny Jews property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as a
precondition for peace talks with the Palestinians.
He is the first US
president to adopt the position that Israel must surrender its right to
defensible borders in the framework of a peace treaty. He has even made Israeli
acceptance of this position a precondition for negotiations.
He is the
first US president to accept Hamas as a legitimate actor in Palestinian
politics. Obama’s willingness to do so was exposed by his refusal to end US
financial assistance to the PA in the aftermath of last spring’s unity agreement
between Fatah and Hamas.
He is the first US president to make US support
for Israel at the UN conditional on Israeli concessions to the
Even today, Obama has refused to state outright whether or
not he will veto a Security Council resolution later this month endorsing
Palestinian statehood outside the context of a peace treaty with Israel. As he
leaves Israel twisting in the wind, he has sent his chief Middle East Peace
Processors Dennis Ross and David Hale to Israel to threaten Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu into caving to US-Palestinian demands and beg PA leader
Mahmoud Abbas to accept an Israeli surrender and cancel his plans to have the UN
General Assembly upgrade the PLO’s mission to the UN.
record – to which can be added his fervent support for Turkish Prime Minister
and virulent anti-Semite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his courtship of the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt, and his massive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt –
it is obvious that any attempt to argue that Obama is pro-Israel cannot be based
on substance, or even on tone. And so Goldberg’s article, like several that
preceded it, is an attempt to distort Obama’s record and deflect responsibility
for that record onto Netanyahu. Netanyahu, in turn, is demonized as ungrateful
Goldberg’s narrative began by recalling Netanyahu’s
extraordinary statement during his photo opportunity with Obama at the Oval
Office during his visit to Washington in May. At the time, Netanyahu gave an
impassioned defense of Israel’s right to secure borders and explained why the
1949 armistice lines are indefensible.
Goldberg centered on
then-secretary of defense Robert Gates’s angry statement to his colleagues in
the wake of Netanyahu’s visit. Gates reportedly accused Israel of being
ungrateful for all the things the US did for it.
After presenting Gates
as an objective critic whose views were justified and shared by one and all,
Goldberg went on to claim that the administration’s justified antipathy for
Netanyahu was liable to harm Israel. That is, he claimed that it would be
Netanyahu’s fault if Obama abandoned traditional US support for
Goldberg’s article is stunning on several levels. First, his
distortion of events is breathtaking. Specifically he failed to note that
Netanyahu’s statement at the Oval Office was precipitated by Obama’s decision to
blindside Netanyahu with his announcement that the US supported an Israeli
withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. Obama made the statement in
a speech given while Netanyahu was en route to Washington.
Then there is
his portrayal of Gates as an objective observer. Goldberg failed to mention that
Gates’s record has been consistently anti-Israel. In his Senate approval
hearings during the Bush administration, Gates became the first senior US
official to state publicly that Israel had a nuclear arsenal.
Gates was a
member of the 2006 Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group that recommended the US
pressure Israel to surrender Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights in
order to appease the Arab world and pave the way for a US withdrawal from
Gates did everything he could at the Pentagon to deny Israel the
ability to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. He was also a fervent
advocate of massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia that upset the military balance
in the Middle East.
The Obama administration bases its claims that it is
pro-Israel on the fact that it has continued and expanded some of the joint
US-Israel missile defense projects that were initiated by the Bush
administration. Goldberg sympathetically recorded the
But the truth is less sanguine. While jointly developing
defensive systems, the administration has placed unprecedented restrictions on
the export of offensive military platforms and technologies to Israel. Under
Gates, Pentagon constraints on Israeli technology additions to the F-35 Joint
Strike Fighters nearly forced Israel to cancel its plans to purchase the
IT IS an open question whether American Jews will be willing to
buy the bill of goods the administration is trying to sell them through their
media proxies in next year’s presidential elections. But if next week’s special
elections for New York’s Ninth Congressional District are any indication, the
answer is apparently that an unprecedented number of American Jews are unwilling
to ignore reality and support the most anti-Israel president ever.
New York race is attracting great attention because it is serving as a
referendum on Obama’s policies toward Israel. The district, representing
portions of Queens and Brooklyn, is heavily Jewish and has been reliably
Democratic. And yet, a week before the elections, Republican candidate Bob
Turner is tied in the polls with Democratic candidate David Weprin, and the main
issue in the race is Obama’s policies on Israel.
To sidestep criticism of
the president’s record, Weprin is seeking to distance himself from Obama. He
refuses to say if he will support Obama’s reelection bid. And he is as
critical of Obama’s record on Israel as his Republican opponent is.
Turner’s argument – that as a Democrat, Weprin will be forced to support his
party and so support Obama – is gaining traction with voters. According to a
McLaughlin poll of the district released on September 1, Turner’s bid is gaining
steam, and Weprin’s is running out of steam, with Turner’s favorability rates on
the rise and Weprin’s declining.
Deflecting substantive criticism by
seeking to demonize one’s opponents is a standard leftist play. Obama and his
political supporters engage in it routinely in their demonization of their
political opponents as “terrorists” and “extremists.” And now, with the American
Jewish vote in play for the first time since 1936, they are doing it to
It is encouraging to see that at least in New York’s Ninth
Congressional District, American Jews are refusing to be taken