This week, President Obama is on his way to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he will meet with the Saudi King and his entourage. Most political analysts believe that this could end-up being a historic meeting comparable to the one that last took place in 1945 between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then King Abdul Aziz. Topics of discussion will be Iran, Syria, Egypt and of course the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I believe that it could be historic too, but not necessarily in a positive way.
Prior to his Riyadh visit, Mr. Obama received requests from numerous non-governmental agencies as well as a bi-partisan group from Congress to confront Saudi Arabia about their ongoing human rights violations. What will actually transpire has yet to be seen, but let me predict that not much is to be expected in that area. The boldness required to confront the Saudis about their treatment of women, activists, religious minorities and Jews is something that simply doesn’t exist within the current administration.
If there is any doubt in your mind about such a statement of mine , consider the following. Jerusalem Post Washington Bureau Chief, Michael Wilner originally planned to join Mr. Obama and staff. He had scheduled his trip to cover the US President’s visit to Saudi Arabia for his newspaper. But Michael Wilner was denied a visa to the gulf country. He is the only journalist who was denied entry to Saudi Arabia on this upcoming trip. He must be a great threat to the country for being denied entry! Is he a political agitator? No! Is he a human rights activist? No! Is he a terrorist? No! So what seems to be the problem? Oh Yes, I failed to mention, Mr Wilner is Jewish, not Israeli Jewish, simply a Jew who lives in America and reports for the Jerusalem Post.
So what’s the big fuss? Am I upset that the Saudi government made such a decision? Frankly, I am not even surprised, considering that the same country banned Swissair from flying over Mecca because of the “offensive to Muslims”white cross being part of their logo. It is ultimately their decision, and as ludicrous and unacceptable as I think it is, they make their own laws for their own country. I wonder what reaction we would get if we were to state that such a move was archaic, paranoid and purely xenophobic? Is Saudi Arabia an “Apartheid” country? but I digress!
What greatly concerns me is the US administration’s reaction to the banning of Michael Wilner’s entry into Saudi territory. They are not disgusted, outraged, or even highly offended. They simply are “deeply disappointed” as was stated:“We are deeply disappointed that this credible journalist was denied a visa,”US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said on Tuesday. “We will continue to register our serious concerns about this unfortunate decision.”
I feel better already for the American Jewish community. Next time anti-Semitism shows its ugly head, will our government be “disappointed” again? Merriam-Webster defines “disappointed” as: feeling sad, unhappy, or displeased because something was not as good as expected or because something you hoped for or expected did not happen.
The message sent by such a statement will not be mistaken; it shows weakness, lack of care, misunderstanding or possibly a combination of all three. The US administration’s decision to make such a weak statement days ahead of such an important visit will certainly set the mood and send a clear message.
America used to be a leader in the free world but they have become a secondary country. As a government, we are all bark and no bite. Hamas and Hezbollah are not afraid of us, Iran doesn’t take us seriously, Putin certainly doesn’t either.
If America is now simply disappointed at anti-Semitism, I fear for the upcoming day when Jews will have to seek shelter for their lives in the US. If and when a second Holocaust takes place, America might be “disappointed” at the way Jews are treated and massacred but they will be so much more “disappointed” when they face God and have to answer for how they treated Israel and the Jewish people (Psalm 83:1-5; Zechariah 12:9). Your choice America!
The lack of chutzpah displayed by our current administration doesn’t give us individuals an excuse to sit and be silent. While America might be asleep, wake up Americans and speak up!
When speaking on the death of the 6,000,000, Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel said: “In a free society, few are guilty but all are responsible”. How pertinent for such a time as the Holocaust, and yet how pertinent for such a time as today!