Beware the 5th of November. Next week, immediately after US midterm congressional elections, Barack Hussein Obama will begin the final two years of his presidency.
He will be free to pursue his true ideological convictions in the fields of foreign and security policy; free to cement a complete reorientation of US policy in the Middle East and beyond.
Israel is likely to be a prime victim of Obama’s last-stand aggressive foreign policies.
While this can come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention, the ferocity of Obama’s upcoming punch is still going to knock the wind out of leaders on both sides of the Atlantic.
The perfect storm in US-Israel relations has been brewing for six years. From day one of his presidency, Obama has sought a distancing between Washington and Jerusalem (what the president called “useful daylight”) along with a concomitant American rapprochement with Tehran. Give the man credit: Obama has been clear from the beginning as to his strategic perspective and how that perspective is radically different from previous administrations.
Obama's rapid embrace earlier this year of the Hamas-Fatah government, and his failure this summer to fully support Israel against Hamas during Operation Protective Edge, were watershed moments. They were turning points in US-Israel relations, and they portend much worse things to come.
Israel is going to face a series of Palestinian resolutions at the UN and in international courts this winter, seeking to condemn and penalize the Jewish state. Internationalizing the conflict and criminalizing Israel was always the central Palestinian strategy. Alas, Obama feels that he will be “unable to manage” or mount a defense of Israel.
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Obama clarified that this was his direction in a candid interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic in March. Blindsiding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he was flying to Washington, Obama warned that Israel can “expect” to face international isolation and possible sanctions from countries and companies across the world if it fails to endorse a framework agreement with the Palestinians and continues settlement building.
“If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous, sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited,” Obama said. “There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices. The condemnation of the international community can translate into a lack of cooperation when it comes to key security interests,” he warned.
Little anguish could be detected in Obama’s words, because truthfully, he wasn’t too upset about Israel’s “impending” isolation or the fact that America will “have reduced influence in issues that are of interest to Israel.” Just the opposite; he was merely feigning dismay at the possible isolation of Israel, while in practice paving the way toward a global distancing from Israel.
The give-away was Obama’s total failure, in that interview and in his subsequent acceptance of the Hamas-Fatah government, to place any onus of responsibility on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for advancement or retardation of the peace process. There was not and is not a smidgen of answerability that he attaches to Abbas or to Hamas. Only to Netanyahu. Washington never insisted that the Abbas-Haniyeh government meet Middle East Quartet principles involving acceptance of Israel and acceptance of past peace agreements, etc.
Then this week, an unnamed Obama administration official (possibly Obama himself) confirmed to the always-available-for-Netanyahu- bashing Goldberg that after the midterm congressional elections, the administration will no longer shield Israel at international organizations. On the contrary, Goldberg was led to understand that Washington is likely to sandbag Israel with a Security Council resolution condemning it over settlements and building in Jerusalem.
To my mind, we are not far from the day when the Obama administration will support a Palestinian Authority resolution demanding a timetable for Israeli withdrawals to specific borders and endorsing punitive measures unless Israel complies. I don’t think this farfetched at all.
So you see, Abbas can brutally mock American peace proposals, accuse Israel of genocide, glorify terrorism against Israel, cuddle with Hamas, and cozy-up to Iranian officials in preparation for battle against Israel.
Yet Obama remains mum about Abbas, while his “officials” call Netanyahu “chickenshit.”
Abbas says he will never recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, never forgo the so-called right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees, never accept Israeli security control of the Jordan Valley and other key air and ground security assets, never allow Jews to live in Judea, never accept Israeli sovereignty in any part of Old Jerusalem, and call for riots to prevent Jews from “desecrating” the Temple Mount by visiting there.
Yet Obama issues no warnings of PA diplomatic isolation or economic collapse if Abbas doesn’t compromise and advance the peace process. He pins nothing on the defiant Palestinian Authority and its radical Islamic allies.
He is mum on all this, while his “officials” call Netanyahu a “coward.”
But of course, Obama truly “wishes” he had the “influence” to arrest the isolation of Israel.
Obama is purposefully engineering the denouement of the special relationship between America and Israel; just as he is doggedly overseeing the decline of America on the world stage. The thick layer of invective aimed at Netanyahu is just cover for this agenda. It is snide camouflage for six years of administration failures in regional and global diplomacy.
Over the past year, Obama has granted Vladimir Putin gargantuan international victories, given Bashar Assad a new lease on life, relegitimized Iran and re-energized the morally bankrupt UN – while playing Hamlet about his own authority to strike Syria or defend Israel. He has made only a ridiculously minuscule effort at confronting Islamic State. He leaves America’s reputation in the world “unbelievably small.”
Don’t assume that this emasculation bothers Obama, or is the result of any failing. It is exactly where Obama is leading America, brilliantly so from his perspective – on principle and on plan. He very clearly believes that the humbling of America will bring healing to the world; that he will be leaving the world a better place by cutting America down to size, and allowing other “legitimate” actors, such as Iran, to assert their rights.
And thus a soft US-Iranian nuclear deal is coming soon, which apparently will allow the Iranians to maintain a full nuclear fuel cycle.
This is a violation of every American commitment to Israel and every UN resolution that demanded the dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear effort.
But Obama doesn’t care. He is going to do an end-run around the Republican-dominated Congress, and cut a deal that will delay the problem beyond his term as president, while essentially guaranteeing Tehran the additional time it needs to complete all components of a nuclear weapons arsenal. Obama administration officials already are downplaying Iran’s destabilizing role in the Middle East and saying that US-Iranian relations have moved into “an effective state of detente.”
Israel is left in damage-control mode. Somehow, the prime minister has to endure 26 months more of ruinous Obama rule, and emerge with as little harm as possible to Israel’s long-term strategic interests, including the all-important, grand US-Israel partnership.
Netanyahu will need to bite his tongue and bow his head quite a bit, while holding firm on Israel’s redlines and deflecting initiatives meant to undermine this country’s economic and diplomatic standing.
It is important to remember that Israel has survived previous spats with nasty US presidents, and the strategic relationship has only deepened since. Jimmy Carter’s “officials” regularly called prime minister Menachem Begin a “terrorist,” a “fascist,” a “war monger,” a “lunatic” and a “delusional religious fanatic” – from behind the scenes, of course. President George H. Bush and secretary of state James Baker blandished anti-Semitic insinuations about the nefarious pro-Israel lobby and denied prime minister Yitzhak Shamir loan guarantees for Soviet Jewish immigrant absorption. President Bill Clinton worked overtime to defeat Netanyahu in 1996...
One thing is certain: Obama is once again misplaying his hand with the Israeli public.
Overwhelmingly, Israelis will back up Netanyahu’s opposition to rapid establishment of a Palestinian state in the current jihadist regional circumstances, and they will push back at Obama’s attempts to divide Jerusalem.
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