The bureaucratic fashla [blunder] of our dysfunctional government to forestall the announcement of a new housing project in Jerusalem during the visit of US Vice President Joe Biden provided a pretext for the Obama administration to launch one of the harshest condemnations ever leveled against us by a US government. But while the timing of the announcement was appalling, it involved no breach of undertaking.
In fact, the Obama administration had previously publicly praised the Israeli government for making a “major concession” by imposing a settlement freeze which explicitly excluded Jerusalem.
The campaign was personally orchestrated by President Barack Obama. His Vice President Biden accused us of “endangering US lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s abject apology, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused him of “insulting” the US. Obama’s chief political adviser David Axelrod even claimed that the Israeli government was deliberately undermining peace talks.
These hostile outbursts must be viewed in the context of the fact that despite strong ongoing support for Israel by the American people, the US-Israel relationship has been on a downward spiral since the election of the new administration. Former Mossad head Ephraim Halevy attributes this to Obama’s determination to rehabilitate Islam’s global tarnished image.
Yet his strategy of “engaging” Islamic rogue states has been disastrous. The effort to prevent the nuclearization of Iran by appeasing the Iranian tyrants backfired with the ayatollahs literally mocking the US. The response of Syrian President Bashar Assad to US groveling and the appointment of an ambassador to Damascus, was to host a summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah and ridicule the US demand that he curtail his relationship with Iran. President Obama did not consider this “insulting,” prompting the editor of the Lebanese The Daily Star to say that “the Obama administration these days provokes little confidence in its allies and even less fear in its adversaries.”
The Arab League refuses to modify its hard-line against Israel. It insists that Israel unconditionally accept the Saudi peace plan, a full retreat to the ‘67 borders and the implementation of the Arab right of return which would signal an end to Jewish sovereignty in the region.
THERE ARE now ominous signals that to obviate their failures, White House strategists are cynically distancing themselves from us in order to curry popularity by capitalizing on the anti-Israeli hatred which has engulfed the world.
Despite continuously incanting the mantra that it remains committed to the alliance with Israel, the White House is not behaving in an even-handed manner. Obama does not disguise his animosity and repeatedly humiliates our prime minister. The administration “condemns” us for building homes, not in densely Arab populated areas of Jerusalem but in Jewish suburbs like Gilo and most recently Ramat Shlomo which most of us regard as Israel no less than Tel Aviv.
Instead of condemning the brutal Palestinian murderer of an Israeli civilian in December, the US requested “clarification” after Israel apprehended the killers who the PA extolled as heroes. They failed to block a UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli police for protecting worshippers at the Temple Mount from Arabs hurling stones at them. They even condemned us for authorizing repairs on Jewish heritage sites over the Green Line.
In stark contrast, the US has not publicly reprimanded the PA on a single issue over the past twelve months. It is unconscionable that neither the White House nor the State Department conveyed a word of protest concerning the ongoing incitement and spate of ceremonies sanctifying the memory of the most degenerate suicide killers and mass murderers. Not even when our peace partners President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad personally partook in these ghoulish ceremonies. In fact, during Biden’s visit, the PA announced that they would postpone a ceremony to name a public square in Ramallah to honor Dalal Mughrabi, the female monster responsible for the abominable 1978 massacre in which 37 Israelis including 13 children were butchered. Nevertheless the ceremony took place and the PA TV interviewed Mughrabi’s sister who stated: “This is a day of glory and pride for the Palestinian people. We must unite, and our rifles must unite, against the enemy who steals our land.” The US failed to register a protest.
NETANYAHU HAS extended more concessions than any other Israeli leader. His government immediately agreed to negotiations with the Palestinians. In contrast, Abbas told The Washington Post that being confident that the US would ensure that the Palestinians obtained whatever they sought, he saw no benefit in negotiating with the Israelis. This scenario is now being realized.
Netanyahu also overcame Likud resistance to a two-state solution and acceded to a temporary settlement freeze which no previous Israeli government was willing to consider. He authorized the release of prisoners and reduced checkpoints, even compromising the security of Israeli civilians.
Yet, far from acting as an honest broker, the US effectively endorsed most of the Palestinian positions and is poised to pressure Israel into making further unilateral concessions.
In a recent chilling document, reiterated by Biden in the course of his condemnation of construction in Jerusalem, the US assured the PA that the principal objective of the “indirect” negotiations was not peace, but the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and that parties who adopted negative positions would be dealt with “in order to overcome that obstacle.”
Our relations with the US will now be further tested.
Obama is surely aware that recent statements by his administration will only embolden the Palestinians and Jihadists to be more extreme in their demands, making it inevitable that the talks will almost certainly fail. Some may infer that this is precisely his intention. We will then be blamed for the breakdown and the US, with the backing of the Quartet and others, will then seek to impose a solution upon us.
There are certain red lines which no government of Israel may cross. Netanyahu, on this occasion, must stand firm. The current crisis transcends political or ideological differences between Likud, Labor and Kadima. All mainstream parties should unite and convey to President Obama that Israel is a sovereign state and will not automatically bow to diktats of the US administration. They need to make the US administration and public understand that no government of Israel will agree to freeze construction in Jerusalem, the heart and soul of the Jewish people.
We may not be a superpower but the Obama administration will hesitate to pursue a path which rejects the consensus of the nation. A demonstration of unity against the unprecedented attacks on Israel’s sovereignty by the Obama administration will also encourage the American people and Congress to publicly support and assist us to reaffirm the traditional alliance and bonds of friendship between our two nations.
It will hopefully also encourage the Obama administration to relate to us with at least the same level of courtesy and respect it extends to rogue states.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post