John McCain, the man who keeps telling us Sarah Palin is qualified to be President, has been going around saying US-Israel relations have never been worse than under Obama. Is he right or is he saying this because he seems to reflexively oppose the President on just about everything?
The answer is a little bit of yes and a lot of no. On a personal level relations between Obama and Netanyahu are bad and getting worse. But on the substantive level, the bilateral relationship remains very strong. It may come as a shock to McCain, but on the very critical national security level, the relationship has never been closer or stronger. Even Bibi says so:
" [He] enhanced [Israel's ability to defend itself] through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense programs and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation [and by] strengthening the unbreakable alliance between our two nations."
Here are some other facts to consider:
— Obama has never embargoed arms to Israel as Reagan did to punish it for bombing Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor or joined with Iraqi diplomats in writing and passing a UN resolution condemning the Israeli attack.
— Obama never sought to delay or cut aid to Israel approved by Congress as both Reagan and Bush 41 administrations did.
— Obama never refused to speak on the phone with a prime minister, as Bush 41 did to Shamir.
— Obama never suggested that pro-Israel activists weren't loyal Americans as Bush 41 did when they lobbied against his attempt to freeze aid to resettle Soviet immigrants as punishment for settlement construction.
— President Ford ordered a "reassessment" of relations with Israel in 1975 because of what the administration called Israeli "intransigence" in negotiations with Egypt and Syria.
— A White House aide may have called the PM a "chickenshit" but never did a secretary of state under Obama say "F*** the Jews, they don't vote for us," as James Baker did when he was Bush 41's top foreign policy official. Or tell a congressional committee that if the PM wanted to talk peace he could call the White House switchboard.
John McCain is a great American and a patriot, but when it comes to assessing the US-Israel relationship his judgment is clouded by his personal animosity toward this president, an affliction that also infects his friend Bibi.
For more see my Washington Watch column. http://bit.ly/1DH3prN