The Man Shaping Obama’s Strategy on Israel

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.


The New York Times published a front page story on Saturday, March 16th lauding Benjamin J. Rhodes, President Obama’s “35-year old deputy national security adviser with a soft voice, strong opinions and a reputation around the White House as the man who channels Mr. Obama on foreign policy.” Rhodes successfully led the charge to persuade Obama to throw Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak under the bus and to intervene militarily in Libya to help topple Muammar el-Qadaffi.  Now Rhodes is shaping President Obama’s public charm offensive that will be on display during his visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan this week.

Secretary of State John Kerry will be joining Obama and Rhodes on the trip, but will play a backseat role.  In Rhodes’s words, Kerry will “be accompanying us” on the trip.

Rhodes is drafting the address Obama intends to deliver to the Israeli people, bypassing the Knesset in favor of connecting directly with the population, particularly the youth.

President Obama “has often spoken to young people,” Rhodes told reporters last Thursday while outlining the agenda for the trip.  “He spoke to young people, for instance, when he traveled to Cairo.  And in this instance, we felt like bringing together an audience of university students from a broad range of partners that our embassy has in Israel would allow him to speak, again, not just to political leadership, who he’ll be meeting with on the trip, but to the Israeli public and Israeli young people.”

Obama will also be visiting with youth in the West Bank after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad.

Rhodes said that the speech he is writing for the president to deliver in Israel “will focus on the nature of the ties between the United States and Israel, the broad agenda that we work on together on security, on peace, on economic prosperity.  And I think he’ll have a chance to speak to the future of that relationship, so discussing not just the nature of the challenges that we face today, but where the United States and Israel are working to move together as we head into the future of the 21st century.”

As for other public appearances, Obama will view the Dead Sea Scrolls, which demonstrate, in Rhodes’s words, “the ancient Jewish connection to Israel.”   He will also visit Yad Vashem and, according to Rhodes, “have a chance to lay a wreath and make remarks there, of course, marking the very somber and powerful history of the Holocaust.”

No doubt, there also will be ceremonial gestures and photos of Obama shaking hands with (if not embracing) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

All of this is very nice, but it is all for public consumption – an Obama charm offensive to assure the Israeli people that he is on their side and to make the Democratic Party Jewish constituency back home happy as well.  However, since Rhodes presumably will “channel” what Obama really thinks about Israel and what he may try to pressure Netanyahu in private to concede to the Palestinians, it is worth examining the positions that Rhodes has advocated in the region.

Don’t expect such a critical assessment from the mainstream media. The New York Times profile of Rhodes was nothing short of a promotion piece, for example.  And aside from its usual pro-Obama bias shared by the other major broadcast networks, CBS News is headed by Benjamin Rhodes’s brother, David Rhodes.

Thus, we will have to fill in some blanks in Benjamin Rhodes’s channeling, starting with President Obama’s June 2009 address to the Muslim world in Cairo that Benjamin Rhodes wrote.  The speech was little more than a whitewashing of Islamist ideology and an apology for the historical wrongs inflicted by the West.  Here are some of Rhodes’s nuggets, as delivered by Obama:

“And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the  possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

“More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.”

Rhodes also managed to include in Obama’s Cairo speech a recitation of the Palestinian victimhood narrative. “For more than 60 years, they’ve endured the pain of dislocation,” Obama told the Muslim world, without mentioning the Palestinians’ own responsibility for rejecting the opportunity for a separate state of their own more than 60 years ago and several times since.  “Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.”

When the so-called Arab Spring spread to Egypt, Rhodes urged Obama, according to the New York Times, “to withdraw three decades of American support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.”  The result is an autocratic Islamist government run by former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, who three short years ago referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” and “the descendants of apes and pigs,” and added that “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.”

As many as 100,000 Christians have reportedly fled Egypt since the Islamist takeover of the country. A Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice was recently established to protect “Islamic morality.”

According to Moushira Khattab, the former Minister of Family and Population of Egypt as well the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, women are facing more intimidation than before the revolution.  “Demonization of women as a sex object has intensified since the revolution,” Ms. Khattab wrote. “Sexual harassment has escalated to terrifying levels. This may be part of an attempt to push women back into their exclusively domestic role.”

Despite Egypt’s slide backwards into an Islamist dictatorship, Rhodes remains convinced that the Obama administration’s abrupt abandonment of America’s long-time ally Mubarak was all worth it.

Channeling President Obama once again, Rhodes told reporters last Thursday that “since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and in his speech in May of 2011, he has made this point that as governments in the region are more responsive to popular opinion and the aspirations of their people, it’s going to change the broader political dynamic in the region.  It’s obviously a good thing that the people of the region are seeking to express themselves politically.”

Of course, Israel is the only true democracy in the region.  It recently held elections which truly reflected the will of its people, including its Arab citizens who have equal voting rights.  Women are able to exercise their right to vote, freedom of speech, and equal access to education and the workplace without the constant fear of harassment that women experience in Egypt and other Muslim countries supposedly liberated by the Arab Spring.

Yet Rhodes said on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Israel that it is the democratic Jewish state which must respond to the popular opinion prevailing in the undemocratic remainder of the region:

Israel, as it makes peace, is going to have to recognize the broader role of public opinion in peacemaking.  In the past, the peace processes with a variety of countries and partners in the region were between Israel and individual leaders.  And as you move towards more democratic, more representative and responsive governments, Israel needs to take into account the changing dynamic and the need to reach out to public opinion across the region as it seeks to make progress on issues like Israeli-Palestinian peace and broader Arab-Israeli peace.

Exactly what Arab governments does Rhodes have in mind that are purportedly moving towards “more democratic, more representative and responsive governments”? Syria is in shambles. Lebanon is under Hezbollah’s control. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are still monarchies, with the latter regime continuing to deny women the right to vote and other basic rights.

Egypt, as noted above, is not a functioning democracy despite its elections. It does not respect the opinion of all of its citizens, including women and Christians in particular, with respect to how they are to be governed by the Islamist regime, or grant them equal rights. It is led by an Islamist who has called for Egyptian children to be nursed on hatred for Jews.

Not that the Egyptians need any convincing to hate Jews. A Pew poll taken in 2011 found that only 2% of Egyptians had a favorable attitude towards Jews in general. That is even less than the favorable rating for Jews among Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, which was 4%.

According to Stratfor Global Intelligence, the “Camp David accords, which form the foundation of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, are widely disliked in Egypt, and public opinion toward Israel in general is also hostile.” A 2012 Pew poll indicated that 61% of those polled wanted to annul the treaty.

A solid majority of Palestinians polled in March, 2012 opposed mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Hamas, the terrorist organization which controls Gaza and is committed to destroying the Jewish state altogether, is viewed more favorably by many Palestinians than President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.

In short, it is preposterous to suggest that Israel will get anywhere in achieving a secure peace with the Palestinians, based on a viable two state solution, by following the popular will of Egyptians, Palestinians or other Muslims on the Arab street, whose rage against the Jewish state is manipulated by their leaders in order to hold on to their power.

If President Obama wants to put his vaunted charm offensive to good use, he should turn to his hosts in the West Bank and tell them to stop instilling the culture of hatred and de-legitimization of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in their youth.

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  • Mary Sue

    I have to wonder why Obama's listening to a freaking KID.

    • Parenthetical Phrase

      Because Obama is so clueless on just about everything but his own narcissism that he can't hold up a conversation on ANYTHING unless a script has been written for him ahead of time. Obama's scholastic "credentials" are a fake. He never graduated from any school — the Saudi's bought him his credentials. He is nothing more than an angry, self-centered child in an adult body. As for Rhodes, he is as bizzarre and crazy as Obama: a self-centered, egotistical child who doesn't care how many bodies lie bloodied and dead because of his insane policies and advice. Probably was a neglected child whose parents kept telling him what a genius he was because they never wanted to be around him. It is amazing though that such people are allowed to use the world as their personal chessboard and no one stands up to them — not even the heads of other countries. We live in truly outrageous times.

      • John

        Okay, I read his resume. In short not even Simon & Schuster hired him. But then he went on to help massage the 911 report & Iraq Study Group report & having done so he became a darling of the left.

        Your plumber or electrician knows more than this fool.
        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/world/middleeas

      • pdxlady

        @Parenthetical Phrase – You nailed it in the most articulate and concise way; that is it exactly! I can't understand why Someone/Anyone will not stand up to this malignant narcissist currently occupying We The People's White House.

    • John

      Mary Sue

      You can learn a lot in 5, 10 or 15 years. It all depends on education & experience. I am searching the web for his job resume. I am of the opinion that I will not find a suitable one.

      I am also of the opinion that he will not be much wiser at age 60 or 70, because this person leads a cloistered life.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "You can learn a lot in 5, 10 or 15 years."

        I think the point is that they hired him because he's a malleable naive kid, not that no young person would be qualified or that all old people are.

  • SCREW SOCIALISM

    Pain of dislocation? 60 years of dislocation?

    Arab thieves think they have ownership of their ill gotten gain – the land of Israel.

    They are outraged that the owners have returned and want their property back.

    They are outraged that the Israelis are too well armed and able to defend themselves from Islamofascist savages.

    They are outraged that despite what is written in the Koran, the Israelis can't be defeated.

    May the Arab savages continue to be outraged.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    NO doubt a few additions are required to flesh out the narrative – Valerie Jarrett is more than front and center, within Barack HUSSEIN Obama's Mid East policy. This is no small matter, regardless of the so called "wunderkind" – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/03/01/valerie-jarre

    Most significantly, speechy boy is a product of leftist academia, so much so that his take on the Mid East, and western civilization in general, is warped with historicism and outright fabrications. This too is no small matter – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/01/22/the-moral-dec

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

    • WilliamJamesWard

      I see "no small matter"………….scary………….William

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Israel, as it makes peace, is going to have to recognize the broader role of public opinion in peacemaking. In the past, the peace processes with a variety of countries and partners in the region were between Israel and individual leaders. And as you move towards more democratic, more representative and responsive governments, Israel needs to take into account the changing dynamic and the need to reach out to public opinion across the region as it seeks to make progress on issues like Israeli-Palestinian peace and broader Arab-Israeli peace."

    Israel must convince Muslims that the Koran is false.

    • Bert

      We keep overlooking that the Jewish leadership in both Israel and the U.S. has the responsibility to tell the full truth in defense of Jewish rights. When Jewish leaders from Israel and the U.S foolishly continue to repeat the nonsense of a "Palestinian People", "occupied territories", and a "two state solution" they are far more dangerous than Mr. Rhodes.

      • dr_mike

        A one state solution–Israel–is best. Let the "poor Palestinians" go to Jordan , where they all belong.

    • Lady_Dr

      Good luck with that one. I once taught a college course with a girl from Saudi Arabia in it – talking to her was like talking to the average 6 year old – she wasn't stupid, just so brain-washed there was no room for actual thinking. It was scary.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Good luck with that one. I once taught a college course with a girl from Saudi Arabia in it – talking to her was like talking to the average 6 year old – she wasn't stupid, just so brain-washed there was no room for actual thinking. It was scary."

        Or we can allow them to put a quick end to it by winning the war and doing the same ourselves.

    • dr_mike

      Since when did public opinion ensure peace?

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Since when did public opinion ensure peace?"

        It's a factor, but the premise they're following is totally false because they refuse to acknowledge the ideological underpinnings that form those trouble-causing opinions.

        • WilliamJamesWard

          I keep coming up with the conclusion Rhodes is a lunatic, insane comes to mind
          and may be a dodge to keep most confused and confronted with impossible
          to decipher missleads, a babbeling cacaphony of Obamanims……………William

  • Poupic

    The N.Y. Times and Barak Hussein go well together. This Sunday the Times had a major story about a village in the PA area aiming to be where the “Third Intifada” will start in glowing terms. I was unable to read this garbage. By the way I do not buy anti- Israel or anti- Semitic anything, witch are generally the same.

    • jacob

      I wonder what are the Rotten Apple Jews waiting to boycott and get rid of the New York Times
      once and for all….
      It was many moons ago a newspaper worth something but nowadays is not even good as toilet
      paper.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Not the worst part of this trip but what's aggravating is that we taxpayers get the bill for the
    insane cost of transporting these dolts. If public opinion is the rule of thumb for them then
    what can they expect from a society of liars, thieves and murderers pushing for Islamist
    soverignty everywhere with Israel standing in the way of the horror they put on themselves
    and wish for us. Obama stay home and do not waste everyone's time with your clowns.
    William

    • objectivefactsmatter

      " If public opinion is the rule of thumb for them then
      what can they expect from a society of liars, thieves and murderers pushing for Islamist
      soverignty everywhere with Israel standing in the way of the horror they put on themselves
      and wish for us."

      PRECISELY!

  • SoCalMike

    Another academic bimbo boy involved with running foreign policy into the ground who never has to worry about anyone knowing he's a complete amateur because the Army of Media False Prophets will protect him.

    Doyle McManus, Neil Mac Farquar, Ron Fornier ad nauesum.
    When false prophets protect career parasites…..

  • kasandra

    Well, this guy is obviously clueless and/or delusional but there must be a paper trail. It would be nice to know what he has written, where he has worked, etc. Maybe a future article will cover this?

    • kasandra

      I did a little digging around and found this from the NYT in a 2011 story. "“The spotlight is understandably always on whatever country things are going worst in,” Mr. Rhodes said. “What’s important is to step back and say, ‘The trajectory of change is in the right direction.’ ” " Yeah, that trajectory is certainly in the right direction. Like I said above, clueless and/or delusional. Well, unless he wants an Islamist state from Algeria to the Persian Gulf.

  • guest

    He listens to his muslim brotherhood advisors first.

  • Moishe Pupick

    M., 03/18/13

    Barry Soetoro is a chronic liar and heavily dependent on his various drama coaches. One can only hope and pray that the Israeli Jews don't get suckered into The 2-State Solution. It doesn't take an Einstein or a Freud to discern that such a plan would inevitably become The 2-State Final Solution 2. Wise up, Israeli Jews!

  • jacob

    As the Israeli comedian Shimon Dzigan once said in one of his "shticks" , an American politician is
    so smart, so shrewd, it is impossible to tell where the sage ends and the fool begins…
    American Middle East policy has been signed by sheer stupidity and supine ignorance of what is
    going on there but Obamba's deserves the banner….
    He not only got this bout of "Hoof-in-Mouth" disease with this 2009 apology for "American Misdeeds"
    to the Muslim world at the Cairo conference but his backing the "Arab Spring" which has backfired
    on him the worst way and in spite of it, he still goes for more with his insistence in the creation of
    a "Palestinian State" which will never be viable because of what these people are….
    And now, according to tis article, he wants to display his snake charming abilities with the Israeli
    youth and put them into his bag…..
    Good riddance, Mr. President….!!!!!
    I wonder he will get to first base…..

  • elishawah

    Behole,I looked into the mist of heaven and saw a mystery:cain was killing abel again and the blood filled the earth.

  • yecart

    He does seem too young to have a grasp on the world as a whole much less than politics not his own.

    • Ron Lewenberg

      Ben is 35, not 22. He went to liberal schools and believes in liberalism. He was taught to hate the west in World History class at 14. He doesn't know any better. Trust me, I was a year ahead of him in high school. College would have been worse,.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Ben is 35, not 22. He went to liberal schools and believes in liberalism. He was taught to hate the west in World History class at 14. He doesn't know any better. Trust me, I was a year ahead of him in high school. College would have been worse,."

        All fair to say. But there's also a certain naiveté to his statements that make me think he hasn't matured much since he was 22 at least in the topics he's speaking about. Maybe he was spread too thin since then and never had a chance to investigate anything with any significant depth.

        These days you can say that about anyone of any age. But there is something lame about hiring someone on the young side who DOES NOT have a depth of understanding or mastery of the topics BECAUSE his naive statements seem profound to leftists.

        See "Being There."

        "Eve brings Chance to their home to recover. Drinking alcohol for the first time in the car ride home, Chance coughs as he tells Eve his name. Eve mishears "Chance the Gardener" as "Chauncey Gardiner". Judging from Chance's appearance and manners, Rand assumes that Chance is an upper class, highly-educated businessman. Chance's style and seemingly insightful ways embody the qualities Rand admires. Chance's simplistic utterances about gardens are interpreted as allegorical statements about business and the state of the economy."

  • Pat

    Mr. Obama, as the ol' saying says"you can run, but you can't hide"….forever

  • Feisty Hayseed

    My take away from the article is that Obama is running an end-around the Israeli elected officials (just like he does with the U.S. Congress when he cannot get them to do his biding (cannot get his way)). He hopes to smooze the Israeli college kids, hoping that they will swoon and fall in love with His Wonderfulness. The strarry-eyed Obama college kid zombies will then demonstrate and protest and cause a ruckus to force the Israeli government to give in to the Palestinian demands. Same MO he uses here in the USA.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "My take away from the article is that Obama is running an end-around the Israeli elected officials"

      He doesn't like democracy. He uses mob rule tactics because that's what worked for him tactically in the past.