The 'opposite' of Obama: A primer for Democrats

The Obama administration has distinguished itself by innumerable calculated insults and slights designed to show “daylight” between the US and Israel.

July 29, 2012 18:52
4 minute read.
Mitt Romney steps off his campaign plane [file]

Mitt Romney steps off his campaign plane 370 (R). (photo credit: Brian Snyder / Reuters)


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In June, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told an audience of Christian conservatives that he would do the “opposite” of what US President Barack Obama has done in terms of Israel. “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.” Romney explained that his “overarching” message was that “I would not want to show a dime’s worth of distance between ourselves and our allies like Israel. If we have disagreements, we can talk about them behind closed doors. But to the world, you show that we’re locked arm-in-arm.” Did anyone not understand what Romney meant?

Apparently, Obama’s surrogates refuse to grasp the plain meaning. Obama’s team has seized on an odd strategy–to take Romney’s figure of speech literally, and have one editorial after another suggest that an “opposite” approach therefore means completely abandoning Israel.

I can hardly wait for them to discover that Romney also said that President Obama “threw Israel under the bus.”  Is this really what Obama’s supporters are reduced to? Perhaps, in the face of Obama’s dismal handling of America’s Israel relationship, regional diplomacy and the entire Middle East, semantics are all they have left.

The Obama administration has distinguished itself by innumerable calculated insults and slights designed to show “daylight” between Obama’s America and Israel.  I ask those defenders of Obama’s Israel record: would you have a problem with the “opposite” of the following partial list of incidents?

–Obama’s speech, sandbagging Netanyahu on the eve of his Washington visit, calling on Israel to retreat to the 1949 Armistice line as a starting point for negotiations?    
–Obama tearing up American commitments to Israel to support retention of major settlement blocs in any peace negotiation?
–Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling Israel “an ungrateful ally”?
–Shoving PM Netanyahu out the White House back door, without so much as feeding him dinner, issuing a joint statement or allowing a photo-op?
–Obama, over an open mike, agreeing with French President Sarkozy’s statement that “I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar”, helpfully adding, “You’re fed up, but I have to deal with him every day”?
–The administration dressing-down Israel in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s publicized 43-minute telephone harangue of PM Netanyahu for announcing construction–specifically exempted from any building freeze–in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem?
–Senior advisor David Axelrod televised proclamation that President Obama considered housing approvals in Jerusalem “an affront, an insult...and very, very destructive”?
–Vice President Biden’s castigating Israel for endangering American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by building homes in Jerusalem?
–New Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s chastising Israel to “get back to the damn [negotiating] table?
–Obama freezing-out Israel, of all countries, from two high-level American-sponsored counter-terrorism conferences?

THE “OPPOSITE” of Obama’s quiescent silence would be helpful, too. Obama, reputedly a gifted orator, never found the words to unequivocally condemn non-stop anti-Israel incitement by the Palestinian leadership in violation of every agreement from Oslo to the Roadmap; or official Palestinian glorification of terrorists, including celebrating the grisly murder of the Fogels and their sleeping little boys and baby girl; or Palestinians refusing to negotiate at the same “damn table” as the Israelis; or rapprochement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which considers it a religious obligation to destroy Israel; or Palestinians threatening another intifada; or the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem–whose salary comes from American taxpayers–urging Arabs to “fight and kill the Jews;” or Palestinians raining literally hundreds of rockets from Gaza on the million Israeli civilians living within range.

Obama’s defenders cite intelligence coordination with Israel and the cooperative development of the Iron Dome rocket shield as evidence of Obama’s Israel commitment. Those, however, were joint US-Israel defense and intelligence projects initiated by the Bush administration, just part of a decades-long bipartisan partnership with Israel. I’ll give Obama credit for not cancelling them like he did other American commitments to Israel, but that doesn’t exactly merit the pro-Israel vote.
More importantly, all that “daylight” Obama created between America and Israel has stripped Israel diplomatically, exposing it to an onslaught by a world that does not wish the Jewish State well. Without America’s once-reliable protection, it is open season on Israel. Whether the issue is Israeli security, sovereignty, academic and economic boycotts, or the developing Islamist noose encircling Israel’s borders, Obama has left Israel twisting in the wind and dangerously isolated. And most importantly of all, Obama’s focus on Israeli settlements as the root of all regional problems has been shown to be dangerously foolish. As the administration obsesses over Jerusalem housing starts scheduled for 2014, the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt and Tunisia, a re-armed Hezbollah runs Lebanon, and we’ve been caught flat-footed by the Syrian massacres, without a clue as to what comes next or who will control the Syrian chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.
Oh, and a country called Iran has now enriched enough uranium for five nuclear bombs, as Obama continues “engagement”–non-stop talking and watering down Congressional sanctions.

Is that a record worth repeating, or is it time for the “opposite?”

The writer is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as Counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.

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