It was January 20, 2009 and I was at work as the director of a small non-profit serving women living with serious illnesses. The facilitator of our weekly support group called and told me that she and the group wanted to watch the presidential inauguration instead of their regular weekly session. The exuberance of the November election of the first bi-racial (or African-American or black, however you want to refer to his background) president carried into the January cold. People were optimistic. John McCain had run a goofy campaign that was not worthy of who he really is as a leader. Obama exuded self-confidence and a spirit of renewal. His book The Audacity of Hope was published in 2006 and paved the way for what people believed would be new leadership. Now we know that if people thought that Bill Clinton was slick, they underestimated the hubris of this new guy.
It was in June 2009, just a few months later that I had my first uh oh moment. His first major foreign speech would be delivered at Cairo University. My optimism started to sink like a rocket from Gaza aimed at Sderot. I just went back and read part of that speech, which reminded me that the events of this past week including acquiescence to the new Palestinian partnership should be no surprise. His words on that day in 2009 were an omen of the betrayal that reached its pinnacle this past week.
Here is what he said, in 2009 at Cairo University, about construction of new Jewish homes: “This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
Calling America’s “strong bond” with Israel “unbreakable,” he said, “It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.” Sounds good, right? Read on.
He then said “it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” “For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead,” he said. I wonder what he has to say now that Islamic terror attacks against Christians have become daily news stories from various countries in the Middle East and Africa.
“They endure the daily humiliations — large and small — that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.”
“The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.”
I readily admit that I have been a life-long Democrat. When I was growing up, some Republicans post-Eisenhower had gravitated to the extremes which included racist and anti-Semitic groups. The call for renewed Christian values frightened American Jews who had suffered anti-Semitism through the red-baiting years in the 1950s. There are no apologies for believing in a party that challenged racism and created the Voting Rights Act that took away barriers blocking African-Americans from voting.
This history and the hope that this new young audacious voice would be a leader for all is why American Jews flocked to support him. That is what makes this week’s betrayal so striking. Offering support for a coalition that includes a terrorist organization has proven that what he said in Cairo in 2009 is what he has believed all along…..that the Jewish right to a homeland based on history of Jewish life in Israel is not equal to a specious claim of land by those who only wish for the destruction of the Jewish nation.
Here is what Bobby Kennedy wrote for the Boston Post during a 1948 visit to Israel: “The Jews on the other hand believe that in a few more years, if a Jewish state is formed, it will be the only stabilizing factor remaining in the Near and Middle East. The Arab world is made up of many disgruntled factions which would have been at each other’s throats long ago if it had not been for the common war against Zionism.” (this excerpt has been taken from a piece by Lenny Ben-David posted on the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs website in 2008) Bobby Kennedy was killed in 1968 by Sirhan Sirhan because of his support for Israel. His words have proved prophetic. He understood more about Israel in 1948 than Obama does today.
In Obama, we now have a leader who has forgotten what happened when Israel exiled their own citizens from Gush Katif (Gaza) in order to make peace. Upon the election of Hamas, these terrorists did exactly what was expected and they continue to do so. To expect a different outcome from this new “coalition” is foolhardy. Israel is the front line for the United States. When “death to Israel” is chanted, you often hear “death to America” chanted next.
That this connection is unrecognized by the so-called leader of the free world is a betrayal and not just of Israel, but of the citizens of the United States who have also suffered at the hands of Islamic terror. This isn’t audacity; it’s wrong headed hubris.