US President Barack Obama at the Rose Garden of the White House.
(photo credit: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO / PETE SOUZA)
President Barack Obama has a penchant for ambiguous language. In a recent interview, he described Iran hanging homosexuals from cranes and shooting political prisoners in the streets as “bad behavior.” He describes terrorism as “violent extremism.”
He’s adopted a soft approach in describing the actions and statements of our sworn enemies.
If only he’d extend the same courtesy to his domestic political opponents.
The latest case emerged during a speech Obama made in Ethiopia this week. When the issue of the Iranian deal came up, he did not condemn the mullahs’ barbarity. He did not condemn their denial of the Holocaust while threatening another. He did not condemn their mass-chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” He did not condemn the recent statements of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who proclaimed at a recent event that “Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting.... Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon.”
One would have thought that the president would have jumped at the opportunity to assure the American people that the $150 billion plus of sanctions relief will not be diverted to groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Bashar Assad’s Syrian death machine that’s already claimed 300,000 lives.
Instead, mysteriously, the president chose to condemn the rhetoric of Republican candidates for president.
What upset him most was a comment made by former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee who recently likened the Iran deal to “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” and another from Sen.
Ted Cruz who argued that the Iran deal would make Obama the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, given his provision of $150b. in sanctions relief to the Iranians. He condemned such incendiary rhetoric, lamenting how this circus-like atmosphere is replacing sober reflection in politics.
I hear the president’s point. There is no need for any of us to impugn the other’s motives. And surely Gov. Huckabee meant that the Iranians are trying to march the Israelis to a new slaughter rather than implying that this action could be attributed to the president.
But shouldn’t the president be much more outraged at the genocidal language of Iran? If he feels that Gov. Huckabee and Sen. Cruz have crossed a line, then why not call out Iran for its continued promises to kill all the Jews? We have a right to ask the president to be consistent in this regard. Consistent in terms of condemning the Iranian leaders who have been threatening to commit another Holocaust for more than a decade.
Consistent in asking the president to condemn the repeated chants from Tehran of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” or, as they’re better known in Iran, “the Great Satan” and “the Little Satan.” To condemn burning effigies of Western and Israeli leaders. To condemn the article carried on Iranian state-owned websites that set the time needed for Israel’s destruction at 9 minutes.
These constitute the ultimate incendiary rhetoric.
Yet, not only did the president not condemn it, he made a deal with the people who spoke it. I’m sorry Mr. President, but such actions lend themselves to charges of hypocrisy.
Mr. President, you could have told the Iranians just once during these negotiations that these comments would not be tolerated. But, you chose not to. You didn’t because you were fearful that any criticism whatsoever of Ayatollah Khamenei or President Hassan Rouhani or Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif would make them walk. That’s how tenuous this agreement is. It’s built on eggshells, so fragile that even one plea to stop chanting “Death to America” and “Annihilate Israel” might ruin the deal. So you kept silent, even while condemning your Republican opponents.
Even you, Mr. President, would agree that neither Sen. Cruz nor Gov. Huckabee is planning on killing anyone soon. But the murderous mullahs of Iran have killed, are killing, and will continue to kill innocent people throughout the world.
It is they who deserve our outrage. And these negotiations and the lack of rebuke from the leader of the free world have only emboldened them to grow ever more committed to their bloodthirsty ways.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the best-selling author of 30 books and recipient of the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary.
He will shortly publish The Israel Warrior’s Handbook.