Wednesday, March 24, 2010

America's Moment for Honesty

In light of flared tensions between the United States and Israel, the time has come to remove the political mask behind which our nation has been hiding. We have the option to simply abandon Israel in exchange for a temporary relaxation of tensions with Iran. Our historical support for the Jewish state has brought upon us a cornucopia of costs and benefits, which should never be taken for granted; this much is valid. But whatever course of action we choose as a nation, the decision should be made honestly and openly. The President, however, has already decided in favor of appeasing Iran, while simultaneously blaming Israel for not cooperating in what amounts to its own demise. Obama’s is an insidious betrayal surpassed only by his cowardice.

Under Mr. Obama’s leadership, the United States is surreptitiously selling Israel out while rejecting any responsibility. Meanwhile, supporters of the administration are desperate to convince themselves that they are saving, not betraying, Israel. Obama brings to the Presidency a combination of oratorical aptitude and a legal mind capable of rationalizing this incongruity. A closer inspection of the President’s logic illuminates a different story all together. His insistence on the UN as the sole means to preventing Iranian nuclear acquirement, accusations of Israel for sabotaging the peace process and inflaming regional tensions, and pro-Israel credentials all fail the smell test.

Mr. Obama has argued that the only diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is through tough sanctions backed by international support. Multilateralism, the antithesis of the Bush approach, capitalizes on our smart power, not just brute military force.

But to believe that the United Nations is a vehicle for international consensus in defense of Israel is to deny decades of history. While the UN did declare Israel the Jewish State over 60 years ago, much has changed. This is the same institution that published the Goldstone Report, whose accusations have been contradicted with photographic evidence and whose bias was systemically incorporated. Desmond Travers, a retired Irish colonel, accused Israel of murdering a dozen of his fellow soldiers in cold blood before being selected to co author the report. The General Assembly accused Israel 22 times in 2006 of human rights violations but failed to mention Sudan once. Durban I and II, UN conferences against racism, were ironically boycotted by the US among other nations for rank anti-Semitism. The United Nations, today little more than a platform for tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to spew hateful rhetoric, is now being lauded as the last hope for curbing Iran’s ambitions and saving Israel. This does not make sense.

The more likely scenario is that Obama’s end is to avoid confrontation at any cost. Delay through the United Nations advances his goal while providing an adequate cover to avoid responsibility. If talks fail and sanctions are not implemented, who will be blamed when Iran tests its bomb? Not Obama, because he went through the primary diplomatic channel the left deemed appropriate. Accused of inaction and internal bickering, the United Nations will instead take the fall. In turn, China and Russia will share responsibility for the UN’s failure, having defied the international consensus and prevented meaningful resolutions. The burden of responsibility will be conveniently born by countries that have been consistently honest in their rejection of sanctions. Obama’s approach allows Iran the time it needs to mature into a nuclear power while subtly shifting the blame he deserves.

Another duplicitous position Obama takes is that Israeli aggression towards the Palestinians generates anti-American sentiments. The President has called on the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to make significant concessions to demonstrate its commitment to peace.

Closer scrutiny reveals ill-disguised contradictions with disturbing consequences for Israel. Since the declaration of Israel’s independence, there have been three invasion attempts by its Arab neighbors who continue to deny its right to exist. Despite insatiable Arab aggression, Israel has agreed repeatedly to comprehensive peace agreements with any willing party, including the Palestinians. A divided Jerusalem and sovereign West Bank and Gaza have been the centerpieces of Israeli peace initiatives in the 1993 Oslo Accords and Camp David Summit of 2000. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered as the same during Bush’s second term, and Netanyahu reversed his opposition to an independent Palestinian state just last year. His words were backed by a temporary settlement freeze that Obama demanded in defiance of his right-wing coalition, a bold act which threatened to topple his government. These offers have been rejected and in many cases, forgotten.

According to the administration, a more recent example of Israeli obstruction is the announcement last week of 1600 new housing permits in a heavily Jewish area of East Jerusalem. The devil is in the details. Aside from the fact that the projects are still 2-3 years from construction, the neighborhood in question is entirely Jewish and has never been considered in any proposal to divide Jerusalem, Israeli or otherwise. The Obama administration’s gross public overreaction to the non-incident has implicitly threatened the existence of Israel’s fragile governing coalition. Israelis face a choice between vital American support or their Prime Minister.

That marks two times that Obama has attempted to take down Israel’s government while justifying his actions with arguments that don’t hold water. There are benefits for the change he seeks. First, it protects Iran by minimizing the probability of an Israeli attack. A divided Israel would likely lack the national consensus necessary for a daring military strike in the face of international objection. Second, Netanyahu would leave office bearing the burden of responsibility for having halted negotiations, aggravated the international community, and by extension, strengthening Iranian resolve. If sanctions fail to materialize in the UN, it will likely be argued that Israeli intransigence spoiled international consolidation. As an added benefit, Netanyahu’s likely replacement would be the left-leaning Tzipi Livni.

With an Israeli descendent for Chief of Staff and strong backing by the Jewish pro-Israel lobby J-Street, Obama supposedly qualifies as a friend of Israel by his associations. In a free society, not all Jews or their friends have to agree on Israeli policies, just like not every critic is anti-Semitic. Again, Obama’s position bends logic to hide treachery.

Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, and George Soros are all associates of Obama and openly anti-Semitic. If his Jewish associations are enough to prove that his policies undeniably favor Israel’s security, then these individuals are enough to prove the opposite. Failure to recognize this contradiction upholds a double standard that miraculously whitewashes the President’s actions in the Middle East. Liberal Jews aid tremendously by condoning his policies, but their support does not prove Obama’s commitment to Israel either. Judaism has a tumultuous history reflected in diverse expressions of loyalty that is self-defeating in many cases. For example, the aforementioned George Soros is Jewish and faults Jews themselves for anti-Semitism. A new pro-Israel lobby, J-Street, is shunned by Israel and receives approximately 10% of its funding from pro-Iranian sources. Even in World War 2, ghettos were policed by Jews working for the Nazis. Obama’s anti-Israel amnesty is unwarranted and carries important implications.

First, he has political cover to pursue a policy that discretely advances Iran’s ultimate goal of destroying Israel without being bothered by critics who point it out. Americans would not likely stand with Obama if it became apparent he were undermining the Jewish state, which majorities support. Another significant accomplishment is the rift created between American Jews and Israel, which is vital if he intends to abandon our ally. Many Jews in America hold the liberal platform in such high regard that they refuse to leave the Obama camp on any issue. Consequently, AIPAC’s tensions with J-Street flare at a time when solidarity couldn’t be more important. Obama takes full advantage of his political leeway by attempting to strong arm Israel while offering meager verbal support for its security in return.

Take a step back and remove Obama’s web of implausible arguments. What cannot be denied is that Iran, who threatens to wipe Israel off the map, is being given ample time to develop a bomb while the United States restrains Israel. This is somehow justified by the insane hope that the entire world unites behind Obama so that Iran changes the direction its leadership has maintained for decades. But when anti-government riots sprung miraculously at the perfect moment, the President immediately deemed supporting the opposition counterproductive. Given the current strategy has absolutely no hope of success and is riddled with contradictions, it is quite clear that Obama has every intention of allowing the Mullahs a nuclear arsenal. Israel’s hope then depends on the mercy of a nation that has threatened its very existence and is already waging a proxy war on two fronts.

It is therefore a blatant lie to say that the United States is absolutely committed to Israel’s security, as Hillary Clinton and countless other American diplomats have done. On the contrary, Israel has never been in a less secure position and has Obama alone to thank. The President means to appease the Iranians by backing out of the way and allowing their opportunity for annihilation, even as Jews support him and each individual action is cleverly argued. In effect, Obama is holding Israel’s hand while whispering reassurances in her ear as he seals her doom. He will not, however, admit to the fact because he is terrified of being held responsible for such a heinous betrayal. I hope beyond hope that Israel takes charge and assures its own future instead of staking its existence on the grand plan of Barack Obama.