Is President Obama hostile to Jews and Israel? Let’s look at the evidence.
Last week, the Obama Administration issued talking points for the 10th anniversary of the 9⁄11 terrorist attacks, where it referred to those struck by terrorism “whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.” Conspicuously absent was the name of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Sderot, which have been hit by terrorists, not once, but numerous times.
As a single instance, this omission might be unremarkable. In fact, however, omitting mention of Israel fits a pattern. When running for President, then-Senator Obama referred in his July 2008 Berlin speech to the need to “dismantle the [terrorist] networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York.” Again, no Israel.
It seems hard to believe that these omissions could be anything other than intentional. After all, Israel has been a primary target of terrorists throughout the past decade. Almost 2,000 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists in this period and over 10,000 maimed or disfigured. In per capita terms, far more Israelis have been murdered by terrorists than Americans were murdered in 9⁄11.
Obama also omits Israel in other contexts. Thus, when Haiti was struck by a calamitous earthquake in January 2010, Israel’s relief efforts were exceptional, only matched by those of the United States, and were singled out for praise by former President Clinton. However, in praising these relief efforts, Obama omitted any mention of Israel, saying only that “help continues to flow in, not just from the United States but from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others.”
While Obama has more or less consistently failed to hold accountable or penalize the PA for incitement to violence against Israel, he has been emphatic and repetitive attacking Jewish housing projects in eastern Jerusalem as an obstacle to peace. His Administration has used the terms “condemn,” an “insult” and an “affront” when expressing disagreement with Israel on this issue, terms never used about other allies.
That Obama blames Israel, not the Palestinians, for the absence of peace is obvious. In a January 2010 interview, despite Israel’s acceptance in-principle of a Palestinian state, readiness to negotiate and instituting an unprecedented 10-month Jewish construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, Obama said Israel had made no “bold gestures.”
In a March 2011 meeting with Jewish leaders, Obama contended that “Israel’s [Palestinian] partner is sincere in wanting a peaceful settlement,” while asking his Jewish interlocutors to “speak to your Israeli friends and relatives and search your souls to determine how badly do you really want peace … Israelis think this peace process is overrated.”
Note also the contrast between his holiday messages to Jews and to Muslims.
In his Rosh Hashanah message last year, Obama only once referred to ‘Jews,’ not once to ‘Judaism,’ promoted a Palestinian state, and never mentioned the extraordinary contributions of Jews to the U.S.
In contrast, in his August 2010 Ramadan Message, Obama referred to ‘Muslims’ six times and to ‘Islam’ twice, stated that “American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country,” and praised “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings … a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.” Here, Obama, made no reference to what Muslims must do to achieve peace with Israel.
There are many other indicators of Obama evincing discomfort around Jewish matters. When, in May 2010, Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, he did not mention that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was beheaded by Islamist terrorists because he was a Jew and that he was forced to state in the video recorded of his gruesome murder that he was an American Jew. Instead, Obama merely referred to Pearl’s “loss.”
And let’s not forget Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech, in which he compared the circumstances of Palestinians under Israeli rule to Jews under the Nazis and blacks under Apartheid. Nor his September 2009 UN speech, in which Obama “couple[d] unwavering commitment to Israel” with Israel “respecting the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians.”
These incidents, some important, some less so, have assumed a troubling pattern. They suggest that President Obama has a distaste or even hostility towards Jews and Israel. But should we be surprised? He spent twenty years absorbing the anti-Israel sermons of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, whom Obama has called a “great man,” his “friend” and “mentor.”
Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.