Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
Obama’s predilection for moral grandstanding and condescension is well known. Obama’s first term was purposely less sympathetic to Israel than any other presidency since the days of Jimmy Carter, the one personally responsible for letting the Islamic genie out of the bottle, enabling Ayatollah Khomeini to take over Iran and unleash the nuclear threat to Israel and the world.
If the predisposition of Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East during his first term was set by his 2009 Cairo address where he snubbed Israel and treated the complaints of the Palestinian Arabs as morally equivalent to the Holocaust, let’s all get ready for the new and improved Obama. Like any other new and improved product, Obama will say the right things; he might even give the impression of showing respect for symbols of Jewish sovereignty over the land. However, the only conceivable conclusion to draw from all of this is that Barack Obama and his administration don’t really give a damn about all of the suffering their deliberately destructive and disruptive decisions have caused to the people of the Middle East. We will be witnessing nothing more than an obvious attempt to exploit this related pain for political gain. We Jews are suckers, always looking for acceptance and recognition, and Obama will play on this to the hilt.
Last time around, Obama made disastrous blunders during his Middle East trip. Obama, while in the region, conspicuously omitted Israel from his itinerary, adopting the Arab narrative of Israel’s existence. Here’s how Obama described Israel’s right to exist: “The aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.” In other words, Israel’s right to the land is an offshoot of the European’s guilt-ridden Holocaust and a colonial implant. This put Obama in the same league as Ahmadinejad, who justifies his call to eradicate the Jewish state for exactly this reason. Obama misses the point entirely; the Holocaust to some extent explains why we Israelis defend our nation so fiercely and have created one of the world’s most powerful armies, but it doesn’t explain our emotional, cultural, and religious connection to the land and Jewish indigenousness to the region.
Of course Zionist roots and Jewish ownership claims antedating the Holocaust have never sat well with Obama, despite his claim to be a practicing Christian; It has always seemed to have skipped his attention while praying that the Old Testament validates Israel’s right to the land some 4,000 years ago when, according to Genesis, “The Lord said unto Abram: ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and be thou a blessing.’ And Abram took Sara, his wife, and Lot, his brother’s son, and all the substance they had gathered, and the souls they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came. And the Lord appeared unto Abram and said: ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land.’” So our forefathers, who were mentioned not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament, and the Koran as well, were all Zionists who came to settle the land.
Paradoxically, now that Obama is a second-term president, unrestricted by considerations of having to be reelected, he is coming to Israel. This being his first overseas trip of his second term will make a supreme effort to let bygones be bygones. Why? Does Obama want to correct the impression that he doesn’t understand Israel’s history and has no feeling for the underlying justice of Israel’s right to exist? Does Obama want to connect to us Israelis? Sadly, the answer to these questions is much more devious than it would seem.
Evidently, Obama wants to reintroduce himself to the Israelis and convey to them that he understands their situation so as to build trust between himself and the Israeli public. In addition, Obama has opted to bypass the Knesset, effectively boycotting Israel’s political leadership, going over their heads and speaking directly to the Israeli public. Even here, Obama is being cynical and manipulative as to which Israelis he is willing to talk to. In his scheduled speech before university students in Jerusalem, Obama is prohibiting Israeli students from Ariel University from participating in the audience, effectively boycotting a large sector of Israelis who are at the very heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This discriminatory behavior is nothing new to us Israelis who have become accustomed to the American Jewish liberal tendency of ignoring large sectors of the Israeli public, all 700,000 of them who sleep every night beyond the green line and are residents of Judea and Samaria. In the same manner that Jewish Federation money does not cross the green line to support worthy causes, Obama goes after the money, adopting a misguided understanding of modern Israel as espoused by his Jewish campaign donors who are effectively demanding payback.
Over the past four years, Israel has been the object of Obama’s loathing, and to believe that he has done “teshuvah” and become an avid supporter of Theodore Herzl and Zev Jabotinsky is nothing more than wishful thinking. Obama will insist on being Israel’s friend, he will identify with the Jewish story of slavery to freedom, he will remind us of the coming chag, but this is all part of the script that will be played out in the coming days.
As the visit unfolds, we will witness an Obama who will present himself as an American president who holds the fate of the Jewish state in the palm of his hand in regard to Iran. Obama has arrived at the decision of not falling back on a strategy of containment and deterrence, but rather one of preventing the eventuality of an Iranian bomb. So rather than coming to Israel and tell Prime Minister Netanyahu you were right and I was wrong, he will play this card and try to squeeze Israel dry vis-à-vis her relations with the Palestinian Arabs.
So before we all kiss and make up, let’s all remember Obama is not only a second-term president but also a lame duck president who has not yet earned our trust or even the trust of all Americans. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic advisor to the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.