Obama’s Mysterious Israeli Odyssey

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit carolineglick.com


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Why is US President Barack Obama coming to Israel today? In 2008, then president George W. Bush came to celebrate Israel’s 60th Independence Day, and to reject Israeli requests for assistance in destroying Iran’s nuclear installations.

In 1996, then-president Bill Clinton came to Israel to help then-prime minister Shimon Peres’s electoral campaign against Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

It is possible that Obama is coming here in order to build up pro-Israel bonafides. But why would he bother? Obama won his reelection bid with the support of the overwhelming majority of American Jews. Their support vindicated his hostility toward Israel in his first term. He has nothing to prove.

It is worth comparing Obama’s visit to Israel at the start of his second term of office, with his visit to Cairo at the outset of his first term in office.

Ahead of that trip, the new administration promised that the visit, and particularly Obama’s “Address to the Muslim World,” would serve as a starting point for a new US policy in the Middle East. And Obama lived up to expectations.

In speaking to the “Muslim World,” Obama signaled that the US now supported pan-Islamists at the expense of US allies and Arab nationalist leaders, first and foremost then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Moreover, in castigating Israel for its so-called “settlements”; channeling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by intimating that Israel exists because of the Holocaust; and failing to travel from Cairo to Jerusalem, preferring instead to visit a Nazi death camp in Germany, Obama signaled that he was downgrading US ties with the Jewish state.

In sharp contrast to the high expectations the Obama White House cultivated in pre-Cairo visit statements and leaks, Obama and his advisers have downplayed the importance of his visit to Israel, signaling there will be no significant changes in Obama’s policies toward Israel or the wider Middle East.

For instance, in his interview with Israel television’s Channel 2 last week, on issue after issue, Obama made clear that there will be no departure from his first term’s policies. He will continue to speak firmly and do nothing to prevent Iran from developing the means to produce nuclear weapons.

He will not release convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from federal prison despite the fact that Pollard’s life sentence, and the 28 years he has already served in prison are grossly disproportionate to all sentences passed on and served by offenders who committed similar crimes.

As for the Palestinians, Obama repeated his fierce opposition to Jewish communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines, and his insistence that Israel must get over its justified fears regarding Palestinian intentions and withdraw from Judea and Samaria, for its own good.

Given that all of these are positions he has held throughout his presidency, the mystery surrounding his decision to come to Israel only grows. He didn’t need to come to Israel to rehash policies we already know.

Much of the coverage of Obama’s trip has focused on symbolism. For instance, the administration decided to boycott Ariel University by not inviting its students to attend Obama’s speech to students from all other universities that is set to take place on Thursday in Jerusalem. In boycotting Ariel, Obama’s behavior is substantively the same as that of Britain’s Association of University Teachers. In 2005 that body voted to boycott University of Haifa and Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. But while the AUT’s action was universally condemned, Obama’s decision to bar Israelis whose university is located in a city with 20,000 residents just because their school is located beyond the 1949 armistice lines has generated litte attention.

Then again, seeing as Obama’s snub of Ariel University is in keeping with the White House’s general war with anyone who disputes its view that Judea and Samaria are Arab lands, the lack of outrage at his outrageous behavior makes sense. It doesn’t represent a departure from his positions in his first term.

The only revealing aspect of Obama’s itinerary is his decision to on the one hand bypass Israel’s elected representatives by spurning the invitation to speak before the Knesset; and on the other hand to address a handpicked audience of university students – an audience grossly overpopulated by unelectable, radical leftists.

In the past, US presidents have spoken before audiences of Israeli leftists in order to elevate and empower the political Left against the Right. But this is the first time that a US president has spurned not only the elected Right, but elected leftist politicians as well, by failing to speak to the Knesset, while actively courting the unelectable radical Left through his talk to a university audience.

Clinton constantly embraced the Israeli Left while spurning the Right – famously refusing to meet with then prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997 while both leaders’ jets were parked on the same tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.

Clinton’s assiduous courtship of Israel’s Left enabled him to portray himself as a true friend of Israel, even as he openly sought to undermine and overthrow the elected government of the country.

But Clinton always favored leftist politicians – Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak – over rightist politicians. He did not spurn leftist politicians in favor of even more radical unelectable leftists.

So what does Obama seek to achieve with this novel practice? Clearly he is not attempting to use the opportunity of addressing this audience to express contrition for his first term’s policies. In his interview with Channel 2, Obama spoke of the instability on Israel’s borders – but never mentioned the key role he played in overthrowing Mubarak and empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, thus emptying of meaning Israel’s peace treaty with the most populous Arab state.

He never mentioned that his feckless handling of Syria’s civil war ensured that the moderate opposition forces would be eclipsed by radical Islamists affiliated with al-Qaida, as has happened, or expressed concern that al-Qaida forces are now deployed along Syria’s border with Israel, and that there is a real and rising danger that Syria’s arsenals of chemical and biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missiles, will fall into their hands. Indeed, Tuesday it was reported that the al-Qaida infiltrated opposition attacked regime forces with chemical weapons.

Obama will not use his speech before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s most outspoken critics to express remorse over the hostility with which he treated Israel’s leader for the past four years. He will not admit that his decision to coerce Israel into suspending Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria in his first term gave the PLO justification for refusing to meet with or negotiate with the Israeli government.

So since he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, and he intends to continue the same policies in his second term, why did he decide to come to Israel? And why is he addressing, and so seeking to empower the radical, unelectable Left? Obama’s speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was held at the Islamist Al-Azhar Univerity. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama weakened Mubarak in three different ways. First, Al-Azhar’s faculty members regularly issue religious rulings calling for the murder of non-Muslims, prohibiting the practice of Judaism, and facilitating the victimization of women. In stating these views, Al-Azhar’s leadership has demonstrated that their world view and values are far less amenable to American strategic interests and moral values than Mubarak’s world view was. By speaking at Al-Azhar, Obama signaled that he would reward the anti-American Islamists at the expense of the pro-American Arab nationalists.

Second, in contempt of Mubarak’s explicit wishes, Obama insisted on inviting members of the Muslim Brotherhood to attend his speech. In acting as he did, Obama signaled that under his leadership, the US was abandoning its support for Mubarak and transferring its sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Finally, by addressing his remarks to the Muslim nation, Obama was perceived as openly rejecting Egyptian nationalism, and indeed the concept of unique national identities among the various Arab states. In so doing, Obama undercut the legitimacy of the Egyptian regime while legitimizing the pan- Islamic Muslim Brotherhood which rejects nationalism in favor of a call for the establishment of a global caliphate.

As subsequent events showed, the conditions for the Egyptian revolution that brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power were prepared during Obama’s speech at al-Azhar.

It is possible that in addressing the unelected radical Left in Jerusalem, Obama seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli government. But if that is the plan, then it would bespeak an extraordinary contempt and underestimation of Israeli democracy. Such a plan would not play out the same way his Egyptian speech did.

There are two possible policies Obama would want to empower Israel’s radical, unelectable Left in order to advance. First, he could be strengthening these forces to help them pressure the government to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to convince the Palestinian Authority to renew negotiations and accept an Israeli peace offer.

While Obama indicated in his interview with Channel 2 that this is his goal, it is absurd to believe it. Obama knows there is no chance that the Palestinians will accept a deal from Israel. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat both rejected Israeli peace offers made by far more radical Israeli governments than the new Netanyahu government. Moreover, the Palestinians refused to meet with Israeli negotiators while Mubarak was still in power. With the Muslim Brotherhood now in charge in Cairo, there is absolutely no way they will agree to negotiate – let alone accept a deal.

This leaves another glaring possibility. Through the radical Left, Obama may intend to foment a pressure campaign to force the government to withdraw unilaterally from all or parts of Judea and Samaria, as Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. If this is Obama’s actual policy goal, it would represent a complete Europeanization of US policy toward Israel. It was the EU that funded radical leftist groups that pushed for Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005.

And in the past week, a number of commentators have spoken and written in favor of such a plan.

The is truth we don’t know why Obama is coming to Israel. The Obama administration has not indicated where its Israel policy is going. And Obama’s Republican opposition is in complete disarray on foreign policy and not in any position to push him to reveal his plans.

What we can say with certainty is that the administration that supports the “democratically elected” Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and did so much to clear all obstacles to its election, is snubbing the democratically elected Israeli government, and indeed, Israel’s elected officials in general. Obama’s transmission of this message in the lead-up to this visit, through symbols and action alike does not bode well for Israel’s relations with the US in the coming four years.

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  • BLJ

    If I was the Israeli's I would tell this turd to pound sand. He hates Israel and loves the Muslim Brotherhood. Why invite an enemy into your home?

    • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

      Not only is he virulently anti-Israel, but he came bearing poisonous gifts. Like a serpent, most are hidden from view. As Caroline posited, he is seeking to empower Israel's radical left, and this is a CLEAR message to Israel's Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni (the fact that Netanyahu chose an avowed leftist for this sensitive position is more than worth another commentary, but I digress) to continue pushing for dismantling our heartland, Judea and Samaria. The Radical-in-Chief has her back.

      Moreover, by circumventing the Knesset, yet using academia as his backdrop (and by leaving out Ariel U, an accredited member of the system, all for the "crime" of being housed in Judea and Samaria, he is signalling that he intends to more than boycott our heartland, having the temerity to boycott its students while a guest in our country!), he is standing true to form. This is the Israeli academy, in all its radicalism – http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/post-

      Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

      • TruthHawk

        Everything you say makes sense leading me to think that Obama wants to pow wow with the Palestinians but he cannot go to Ramalla without visiting Israel. He would be crucified by the Christian, Jewish, and congressional supporters of Israel of which there are many more that 50%. His approval ratings would take a further dive. So he makes a politically meaningless state visit to Israel, bowing to Israel's leftist entities so that he can actually go to Ramallah and conspire with Abbas with a free conscience and still look like he gives a damn about Israel, the only democracy in the region.
        Thank you American Jews for giving us this guy for another 4 years.

        • defcon 4

          Can you really put the blame for this at the feet of "American Jews"?

          • SilversX

            Not all but they did help him win re election.

          • nina

            Of course, they are a minority. But they have a powerful punch when it comes to helping other entities, but not the interests of Israel.

  • Johnny_Kelly

    Beware Israel, Obama is another Haman

  • Fred

    And an ILLEGAL PRESIDENT WITH SEALED RECORDS and some that have been proven to be a fraud. So we really do not have a President at this time. And he loves his Muslim Brotherhood brothers.
    And Eric (hates whites) Holder is not in jail yet.

    • BLJ

      Correct my friend. This usurper needs to be removed from office. It shows how far America has fallen as a nation that we have a creep like this in the WH.

  • Bert

    Commentators like Caroline Glick are skilled at citing the devious methods of Israel's enemies. Where they all fail is in exposing the glaring failures of Jewish leaders who compete to grovel and debase themselves before the likes of Obama and other adversaries. Obama's visit contains a string of insults to Israel which its leaders seem to enjoy and praise. Pollard remains in prison. The White House changed the map of Israel to amputate critical parts of the country. Glick points out other outrages that Obama was ALLOWED to perpetrate on Israel. Obama demonstrated how self debased and groveling are Israel's leaders. NO self respecting nation should or would tolerate such insults on its own homeland from someone like Obama. NO nation, that is, except the pathetic Jews.

    • AnOrdinaryMan

      I'm sure that at least some of Israel's leaders want Netanyahu to tell Obama: "I won't meet with you
      until you address the Knesset." And Netanyahu himself probably wants to say something to that effect. But how can he? Especially with Obama in office until 2016.

    • Flicker

      And, of course, the pathetic Americans!

    • nina

      Oh, yes. Many bigger nations would. This is not groveling. It is the necessity to be diplomatic in the face of overwhelming odds.

  • patriothere

    He will not release convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from federal prison despite the fact that Pollard’s life sentence, and the 28 years he has already served in prison are grossly disproportionate to all sentences passed on and served by offenders who committed similar crimes."

    And unless he wants a huge backlash from the US intelligence community, he will keel pollard in jail for the rest of his life. He's lucky He doesn't get executed like the rosenbergs did!

    • stern

      Please explain to me how Pollard is anything like the Rosenbergs. The Rosenbergs sold US secrets to an enemy. Pollard gave information to Israel that the US was obliged to give Israel anyway. He did not jeopardize US security in any way. There is no comparison.

      • defcon 4

        I've read that Pollard did indeed SELL US secrets to other countries besides Israel.

        • patriothere

          The truth is there will be a major backlash from the American Intelligence community if they release pollard. That's just a fact.

        • reader

          John Loftus – a former military and Justice Department lawyer – researched and wrote more than anyone about Pollard's case:
          http://www.jonathanpollard.org/2003/060003.htm

      • patriothere

        He's a traitor that led to hundreds of Americans being killed. The rosenbergs very well could have started the cold war. If they hadn't given the soviets information they would have never launched their atom bomb and we would have never had the cold war.

        Pollard gave information to the Soviets. He aided the enemy.

        • reader

          Where have hundreds of Americans were killed because of Pollard? You're making stuff on the fly, dude.

    • defcon 4

      Do you have anything to say about your fellow islamofascists who, while in uniform, slaughtered unarmed US servicemen at Ft. Hood and in the 101st Airborne? At least Pollard's actions didn't result in the death of ANYONE American.

  • patriothere

    The is truth we don’t know why Obama is coming to Israel."

    I know why. Obama is giving the israelis the green light to invade and war against Syria. OR, He is telling them HE will war against Syria.

  • Serena

    Wait I am still partially lost.
    Can someone please tell me the purpose of Obama going to Israel and what he is trying to accomplish?

    • patriothere

      Read above post.

  • Ghostwriter

    I think President Obama knows that most Americans are sympathetic to Israel so he goes there and hopes he can placate them. He wants America to think he actually cares about Israel when it's well known that he doesn't. Sadly,it's more for political gain than anything.

  • Raymond in DC

    Curious. Recent polls show support for Israel among Americans at an all-time high – over 65% – while Obama's approval rate is barely 47%. Maybe he thinks a visit to the one place in the Middle East where America is respected will rub off on him. (Apropos, support for Palestinians in that same poll? Around 15%.)

  • Flicker

    At the risk of repeating myself, and with apologies for my largely New Testament (if poorly understood) escatology, the following headines.

    Headline: Obama Meets with Major Jihadi Groups in Near East
    Headline: Obama Shuns Knesset, Takes Message to Israeli People
    Breaking News: Obama Promises Israelis May Build New Temple on Holy Mount
    Breaking News: [redacted]
    Breaking News: [redacted]
    Breaking News: Obama Wakes Up! Fully Conscious, Clean and Articulate
    Headline: Obama Contains Islamo-fascists with Rod of Iron
    Headline: New Jewish Temple Consecrated with Rare Red Heffer
    Breaking: Obama Visits new Temple, Sacrifices Pig, Jews Flee to Mountains

    • stern

      Huh?

  • AnOrdinaryMan

    Why is Obama in Israel? Very good question. There's really nothing he can say to Israelis; so the reason must center around what he says to Mahmoud Abbas. Probably has something to do with plans for a Palestinian state in the West Bank; and plans for continued PA intransigence on peace negotiations, and
    what Obama will do regarding Iran. Maybe 0's presence is also some pre-determined trigger for a regional war–not so far fetched when Americans still don't know why 0 was out to lunch during the Benghazi debacle. Hope I'm wrong.

  • Digi

    It's quite simple – top down, bottom up, inside out…and to show the MB and PA that he's serious…he's working for our enemies and it's there, hiding in plain sight.

  • Jamie

    Why does the president have to placate any middle-eastern nation or its supporters? How about, "You need us, we don't need you. Do as you are told, or we go our separate ways." Unconditional support for any foreign power is idiotic, and directly opposed to the founding principles of this nation. Our only natural allegiance is to the anglosphere – and even that has conditions.

    • reader

      Do you even understand what you were trying to say here? The question was why did he come – particularly now, after all but ignoring Israel for most of his first term.

    • stern

      And since when has Obama provided "unconditional support" for Israel? His verbal support is heavily conditional upon Israel making suicidal concessions to the Palestinians, and the US's financial support is heavily conditional upon the bulk of it being spent in the US. What's more, the "aid" the US provides to Israel is less than 2% of Israel's GDP, so it's hardly life-sustaining. In fact, the US gets far more for its money from Israel than from any other country it supports.

    • mjazzguitar

      Nobody said unconditional.
      Israel is the only sane democracy in the region, and their technological advances are leaving us in the dust.

  • Rev. Roy

    Since no one really knows (or can really know) what Obama is up to, it would be wise to watch other areas he is active in. Being the professional gamesman that he is, we should always be watching his "other hand". What you see him doing is not what he is "really" doing. And DO NOT believe a word he says, but believe what he does, like the Israel map on the Administraion website.
    I believe that we are about to witness, very soon, WHO the real Obama is. Are you ready ? Seek shelter in the only safe place in this world, the promise of salvation and foregiveness through Jesus Christ, and an His offer to spend an eternity with Him.
    Rev. Roy….<><

  • Kline62

    Obama wants to shore up the Jewish vote for the 2014 elections. He cares nothing for Israel, it's just a prop. He wants another super-majority in Congress for his remaining 2 years in office, to advance his liberal re-distribution policies and retreat from the world stage.

  • BWM

    Obama has a problem with Israeli security measures in Judea and Samaria (see his speech to the PLO in Ramallah), There have been no Jews killed in the past year on account of them, and he finds this intolerable, telling a youthful, leftist crowd that this state of affairs on "the west bank" must not persist. Not a problem that a Jew going into "Palestinian" controlled territory would be murdered on sight. The murder of Jews is an old and honored tradition in the West, and the Arabs are in sinc with it.

    God bless Caroline.
    BWM

  • Roadie1

    Simpl;e answer to why Obama went to Israel! He can't stand the news coverage of the Pope and the narcissist got envious of all the attention or he wanted to please the Muslims and get the Pope off of front page news as well! He owes the Saudi's and others who got him where he is today and primed him big time! LOL!

  • ralph USA

    Caroline Glick hears the voice of YHVH!

    And she communicates it to us.

    We love her lots!

    ralph, USA