You can tell the most about a person by what they do when there are no consequences.
Politicians need to spend some part of their time doing things simply to ensure they stay in office. In the first term of a US Presidency, there is half an eye on a possible second term and that influences what can and can’t be achieved. Because the second term is the last, the President can and does act more freely, because there are fewer consequences – they will not go to the polls for a third term.
The final act of a US Presidency is played out over their last two months in office: from election day until just before inauguration day. During this time, prisoners are granted pardons – often controversial – because there are no consequences for the President.
Knowing that the next US government will take a major shift to the right in their Middle East policy, Obama & Kerry’s final shot from the bow has been to depart from tradition and abstain from a UN Security Council vote against Israel. In the wake of the final comments from outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki Moon where he acknowledges the disproportionate focus against Israel, the US has turned its back on its long-time ally.
This is actually not new. For eight years, the Obama government’s Middle East policy has reflected one clear fact: they don’t know how to treat an ally. They swapped sides in Egypt trying to bet on a winner. They drew red lines in Syria then backed away from them, leaving a humanitarian disaster in their wake. They cow-towed to Iran and made a bad deal, to the detriment of all of their so-called allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. Their desperation to do the Iran deal meant they stood by idly after the election while a people’s revolution was trying to get started.
There is little wonder they have been able to achieve nothing positive regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Why? Because if you don’t treat an ally properly, then no-one will trust you. And they have earned that mistrust time and again.
The ultimate act of betrayal – against Israel in the hostile UN – has come when there are no consequences: a lame duck President in the death throes of the Democrat Party, his party humbled by the most unlikely candidate.
In Jewish culture, we have a principle called ‘chessed shel emet‘ – ‘true kindness’ – classically defined as preparing the dead for burial. This expression of kindness is considered the most true and pure because the recipient cannot say thank you. It is a kindness expressed where there are no consequences. And you can tell the most about a person by what they do when there are no consequences.
In their final act in office, Obama and Kerry have committed what you could call ‘zadon shel emet‘ – ‘true malice’. Their true intent and feelings toward Israel have been unmasked.