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On January 19, President Barack Obama’s campaign staff released a video, “America and Israel: An Unbreakable Bond” – a piece rife with half-truths and distortions. As patently false as it seems to anyone with a properly jaundiced eye, it nonetheless requires a response. For one suspects that those American Jews eager to find a reason to vote for Obama may be all too ready to stand convinced of what they are being told.
Recently elected NY Congressman Bob Turner gave an interview in Israel last week, in which he said, “I think American support militarily has been more an investment in our own defense..” It was a refreshingly honest and significant observation that directly applies here.
Obama likes to claim – as he does in this video – that US military cooperation with Israel makes him a huge supporter of Israel. But this cooperation serves US needs and goals in important ways: the US requires an Israel that is militarily solid. Nothing wrong with that. It means US interests coincide with Israeli interests in this respect. But Obama misrepresents when he claims the US does this for Israel. And it should be noted here that it is the Pentagon, which understands the military situation, that has always been the major promoter within the US of cooperation with Israel.
This same principle applies to other, related, matters. Last year the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked. The ambassador and his staff got out, but two Israeli security guards were caught in the building and in danger of being killed. Obama (and I note here there were others from elsewhere involved as well) intervened and helped get those guards out safely. He then made a great deal about how he worked on Israel’s behalf. Nonsense. Imagine what would have happened if those guards had been killed, when, according to international law, a country is responsible for the safety of foreign embassy personnel within its borders. Israel would have had to respond very strongly – perhaps there would have been war. Obama knew this, knew that there was risk of a disastrous turn of events in the Middle East and he had to try to cool things. All to the good. But he didn’t do this for Israel.
Did Israelis, including Netanyahu, thank him for his actions here and elsewhere? Of course. That’s the diplomatic thing to do. But the Israeli prime minister did not do so with the expectation that Obama would use this expression of appreciation as an endorsement come election time. The Obama team merely borrowed an earlier clip and added it to their video. I haven’t discussed this with Netanyahu personally, but I am reasonably confident that the prime minister is privately praying that Obama loses – for Obama has been rude to him and a thorn in his side in many respects. But it’s neither politic nor appropriate for him to voice any opinion in the matter.
As to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s praise of Obama, which is given considerable play in the video: It’s long been known in Israel that Barak is an Obama “buddy.” This is a man who is intensely disliked by those Israelis who care about preserving their nation. Barak is the one who sanctions middle of the night expulsions of people in “unauthorized” communities in Judea and Samaria, allowing young children to be dragged from their beds into cold rain. What Barak says should carry no weight with caring people.
The imagery of Obama at the Kotel, which begins the video, is designed to grab at the heart. But for some this is more likely to grab the stomach: Obama has not visited Israel once since he’s been in office – even though he is a much-traveled president. Where does he travel? To Muslim countries, mostly. He had no trouble visiting Indonesia, which is engaged in horrendous human rights violations. Not a word about that. But from a podium in Indonesia, of all places, he criticized settlements in Judea and Samaria. It was no accident – he was showing Muslims how tough he is with Israel. This is a friend of Israel?
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