Have the tensions between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations led to an increase in American anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism, and have these tensions spurred the movement for the delegitimization of Israel? While these questions cannot be answered scientifically, there are various elements which can help us reflect on this issue.
The main problem probably lies in Obama’s often negligent attitude toward crimes emerging from large parts of the Muslim world. This distorted attitude has manifested itself from the beginning of his tenure. The latest and most absurd expression of Obama’s attitude was displayed in 2014, when the mass murders and beheadings occurring in Iraq and Syria, committed by the extremist Muslim organization Islamic State (IS), gained wide publicity.
Some observers, including Obama, started to label IS the embodiment of pure evil. In a speech about the movement, Obama said IS was “not ‘Islamic’” and added, “No religion condones the killing of innocents.”
Obama’s sentiment was shared by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who stated of IS, “They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.”
Whereas Plato spoke about the philosopher- king, Obama and Cameron seemed to introduce a parallel concept – that of the political leader-theologian. This is a particularly remarkable feat, as they refer to the theology of Islam while not being Muslims themselves.
As American terrorism expert Andrew C. McCarthy points out, “The perception that the Islamic State is something new and different and aberrational compared with the Islamic-supremacist threat we’ve been living with for three decades is wrong, perhaps dangerously so. Decapitation is not a new jihadist terror method, and it is far from unique to the Islamic State. Indeed...
it has recently been used by Islamic-supremacist elements of the US-backed Free Syrian Army against the Islamic State.”
By declaring IS as “un-Islamic,” Obama provides a cover for genocidal Islam. The attitude toward Hamas is yet another example of the administration’s whitewashing of what can only be called Islamo-Nazism.
The Obama administration considers Hamas a desirable member of a Palestinian unity government. One might recall that Hamas has in its official charter a call to murder all Jews for the sake of pleasing Allah. During last summer’s Protective Edge campaign, Hamas leaders reiterated the call for the killing of all Jews.
Obama continues to look away from the Hamas problem. In an interview with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, he said, “In some ways, Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] is too strong [and] in some ways [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] is too weak to bring them together and make the kinds of bold decisions that [former Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat or [Israeli prime ministers] Begin or Rabin were willing to make.”
It was a radically false comparison to introduce. Behind Abbas and his Fatah movement stands a strong Islamo-Nazi movement, Hamas, which is more popular among Palestinians than Fatah. Hamas won a parliamentary majority in the only Palestinian election, that of 2006. Sadat, however, represented the legitimate Egyptian administration.
The problems of Obama’s distorted view of the Muslim world were already evident in his 2009 Cairo speech. Obama expressed apologetics and appeasement and understated the major criminality prevalent within many parts of the Muslim world.
Obama applied double standards through the omissions of many important facts. He said that it was time to put a halt to Israeli settlements. He did not say however, that “it is time for Egypt and many other Muslim states to stop the murderous anti-Semitic incitement.” Obama, a self-professed Christian, did not mention the continued persecution and incitement against Christians taking place in a variety of Muslim countries. He even ignored major American interests as he did not mention anything to the effect of, “In this new century we saw an unprecedented terrorist attack on 9/11, which was driven by the religious Islamic convictions of major criminals.”
The ongoing problems and dangers emanating from the Muslim world are the main geopolitical issues threatening much of the Western democratic world. Yet in Obama’s 2013 address to the United Nations General Assembly, he said, “In the near term, America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace.”
A large part of his speech was devoted to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, instead of focusing on the larger problems at hand.
It would not take that long for Obama to decide that the US had to re-engage militarily in Iraq in order to fight IS. The American military engagement was then extended to Syria, where the US military had not been previously involved. Yet there is silence from the Obama administration – besides the issues regarding nuclear Iran – about the many world-threatening aspects of a multitude of developments in the Islamic world.
An American Jewish leader we spoke to off the record also mentioned the Muslim connection. He said, “Hammering on Israel from people close to the administration does contribute, if not explicitly, to a climate that makes it easier to bash Israel on campus, and to a lesser extent, in some church circles. It is also not lost on anyone that the administration more broadly still sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a positive entity that America can do business with – that effectively has provided Hamas a lifeline.”
He added: “As for anti-Semitism, the administration has not rushed the Justice Department to investigate anti-Semitic incidents. Obama’s justice focused primarily on race issues. On the plus side is the seriousness of purpose with which Ira Forman, the special envoy on anti-Semitism, pursues his mandate.”
It would have been exceedingly difficult for academic and other boycotters of Israel to move forward if Obama and his administration were honest about the huge threats to humanity coming from large parts of the Islamic world. The boycotters would have been easily exposed as the anti-Semites they are, because they would be rightly seen as focusing on what was at most a marginal issue, while the civilized world would be waiting for answers to the serious threats facing it, including extreme violence, jihadism, discrimination and slavery, just to mention a limited selection.
The Obama administration official calling Netanyahu “chickenshit” and the other such expressions of hate mentioned by American journalist J.J. Goldberg would hardly have been relevant if the administration’s focus had been on crimes coming out of Muslim societies. Such statements would rightly have been seen as the aberrations of people who should not be employed by the US administration at all.
The answer to the question, therefore, seems to be that the Obama administration does promote the delegitimization of Israel and does cause anti-Israelism. This is not due, however, to any ambiguity of its position toward Israel, but rather due to its whitewashing of many of the major crimes emerging from large parts of the Islamic world.The author’s upcoming book
The War of a Million Cuts analyzes how Israel and Jews are delegitimized and how to fight it. He is a recipient (2012) of the lifetime achievement award of the Journal of the Study of Anti-Semitism.