Obama White House Briefing Room 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
If the various rumors and reports are true, January may prove to be one tough
month for US-Israeli relations.
According to several accounts, the Obama
administration is said to be gearing up to push Israel into a corner by offering
its own proposals regarding how to shape a deal with the
With the clock ticking on the nine months allotted for an
agreement to be reached, US Secretary of State John Kerry likely will be
twisting Israel’s arm, and applying pressure to other anatomical parts, to
coerce the Jewish state into capitulation.
Under normal circumstances, it
would be difficult for an Israeli premier to rebuff a concerted, full-court
press from Washington, particularly when it involves an issue about which both
the president and America’s top diplomat seem overly obsessed.
are not normal circumstances, and it behooves Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
to stand firm and spurn any pressure that may be applied.
Barack Obama still has another three years in office, he is already starting to
look a heck of a lot like a lame duck, one whose quacking can and should be
Consider the following: according to a Washington Post/ ABC poll
released last week, Obama is closing out his fifth year in office with the
lowest approval rating at this point in a presidency since Richard “Tricky Dick”
Nixon. That is not the kind of company that an occupant of the White House likes
The survey found that just 43 percent of Americans approve of
the job that Obama is doing, which is less than the 47% that George W. Bush
managed to garner at the end of his fifth year in office.
In other words,
Obama is now less liked at this point in his presidency than even Bush
A Fox News national poll conducted jointly by Democratic and
Republican polling firms produced similar results, with Obama earning an
approval rating of 41% versus a 53% disapproval rating.
Even worse, the
survey showed that more Americans now view him as dishonest rather than honest,
with 45% saying Obama is trustworthy and 49% saying he is not.
contrast, in 2009, a whopping 73% gave him a thumbs-up for honesty.
the normally pliant and reliably liberal American media has begun to wonder
aloud about whether Obama is morphing into a Democratic version of Bush the
younger, much of whose second term was spent in irrelevancy.
You might be
wondering: does any of this really matter? Obama is still the
Actually, it does matter, both politically and
As Commentary editor John Podhoretz noted in a recent New
York Post column, “the president has gone from being someone in charge of events
to someone who is being buffeted about by them – and once a leader loses his
hold on the levers of power it’s very difficult to get them
Obama’s loss of standing and sliding popularity serve to feed into
the perception that he too is entering an early lame-duck phase, when a
president no longer enjoys the ability to ram through policies and steer the
ship of state as he sees fit.
And Democrats are already looking ahead
nervously to the 2014 midterm Congressional elections, when Republicans are
expected to make big gains in both the House and Senate. Many Democrats worried
about keeping their seats are unlikely to cuddle up to a weakened president who
is increasingly viewed as incompetent and untrustworthy, nor will they be
rushing to get behind any new initiatives he may try to pursue.
On top of
it all, Obama has plenty of headaches at home, from the ongoing NSA surveillance
scandal to the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare, which is causing chaos and
confusion among millions of Americans.
Simply put, there is no reason for
Israel to kowtow to a fading president desperate for a foreign policy “win,”
whether the issue is Iran or the Palestinians.
Where our security is at
stake or our existence is threatened, we must not be afraid of standing up to an
American president, particularly one as anemic and ineffectual as
As the great comedian Bob Hope once noted, “The only thing chicken
about Israel is their soup.” Let’s keep it that way.