It was June of 2009 when I published an article about President Obama’s Cairo speech that had occurred just two weeks prior. In that article, I noted that the relatively new president’s speech aroused a concern in me in three ways. It was clear that he was speaking to an audience that did not acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel. Whenever he mentioned Israel in his speech there was no response from the crowd. He seemed indifferent to the crowds’ passivity not challenging the audience to face the reality of Israel’s right to exist. Obama also reiterated the fact that the United States and Israel have “strong bonds” that are “well known”. At the same time, though, he suggested that the creation of the State was a result of our “tragic” Jewish history. I referenced the fact that the Jewish bond with the land of Israel goes far beyond the tragedy that was the Holocaust or any other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish nation over the millenia. Finally his comment that “many Muslims recognize Israel will not go away” struck me as one of the most passive statements of what amounts to begrudging support a supposed friend could make.
Now I am not rehashing any of this to make a case for any prophetic powers that I may fantasize about but do not possess. I am making the case for the psychological principle that states — in the absence of any change the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. The recent American United Nations Security Council abstention proves it.
I would like to be abundantly clear — I am very sure that President Obama is not an anti-Semite, nor is he anti-Israel, not in the way the ayatollahs of Iran or Hezbollah or Hamas militants are. He has a disarming professorial approach that causes him to have a perspective for negotiating that has made the US weaker in the Middle East and, Israel more isolated and concerned for its future. He must honestly believe that passivity and acquiescence are the best ways to achieve results in some areas of world terror and conflict. Allowing the impression that by pressuring one side in a struggle while being sensitive to the other marks the road to peace has tainted President Obama’s presidency with the stain of a rudderless policy. Along with a Secretary of State who wants to be remembered for bringing peace without pressuring the Palestinians to negotiate the outgoing US administration has created more cause for concern going forward.
The number three seems to come up a lot when I think of President Obama. There are again three issues that I have with his refusal to veto the UN sanctioning of Israel for alleged settlement infractions. By abstaining at the Security Council Obama has further weakened American interests; He has strengthened a Palestinian administration that has been known for its lack of willingness to negotiate, but would rather have their demands met before any discussions and, He has also put Israel in a no win position in the world –opening it to a variety of exacerbated legal and military threats. If the United States does not back Israel who does?
I so wanted Obama to be the man to help bring peace to the region. I had a fantasy that as the first Black President of America he would carry some of the same concerns the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. did for Israel. I also believed that as a Democrat he would try to follow in the footsteps of President Bill Clinton and bring the two parties together at a Camp David style meeting that could actually result in a peace accord. And because he had so many Jewish friends and advisors I had the mistaken notion he might understand what love for Israel meant. But like the fantasy of prophecy it proved that it could never be. It is just too bad that Obama’s last hurrah was based on a vindictive move against Bibi Netanyahu and not the broader needs of the entire region. It is a shame that he was more of a law school professor, debating options rather than taking strong positions, and backing a fantasy rather than the reality on the ground.