Fiamma Nirenstein

Obama prepares a detestable move against Israel

The terrible images of the slaughter in Aleppo do not just disturb, but arouse in us the despair of seeing, in our very own time,the failure of the “success of liberty,” which John F. Kennedy spoke about during his inaugural address.

That is to say, the failure of an American guarantee of a world in which democracy was at least competing to establish its primacy. Even more paradoxical are the levels we are made to stoop to at present.As far as Obama is concerned, after his decision to cease bombardment of Assad’s planes (a decision which is nowirreversible given the presence of Russian S-300s), he descends into pure ridiculousness with his almost tedious aversion towards Israel that seems, especially at this juncture, in search of new horizons.

Perhaps his legacy could be that of a shattered Middle East: a sad thing for a man whose leadership began with him donning the red cape of the Nobel Prize. But like Ariadne’s thread, a number of clues lead us to believe that, after the November 8thvote and before the inauguration on January 20th, Obama is planning a very strong move against Israel during a period in which he can no longer influence the presidential election’s outcome or damage Hillary.

In other words, facing a U.N. Security Council resolution during the “lame duck” period, he’ll ignore the need for negotiations between the two parties, impose borders, as well as set up the parameters for the birth of a Palestinian State, reneging the long-standing American veto. He would allow the resolution supported by the French initiative for a peace conference to win.In practice, the consequences would only be those of disrepute and, possibly, of sanctions against Israel. In times of BDS, this discrediting,this backing into a corner seems to drive more or less consciously America’s policy toward Israel.

Astonishingly, the White House erased a reference to the fact that at Peres’ funeral Obama had spoken in “Jerusalem, in Israel” from a previously released statement on the President’s speech. That is to say, the revered Peres would no longer be buried in Israel, but rather, in some no man’s land. Later, using the funeral as a bludgeon, while the world burns, the U.S. State Department issued a violently worded statement regarding the construction of some apartment units in Shiloh, in the West Bank (to relocatethe displaced settlers from Amona, a dismantled illegal settlement).

The statement basically says that the memory of the deceased leader had been betrayed thus “cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” Oh, really! The housing units, repeated the government, will be built in an old settlement for refugees of another destroyed settlement, without bringing one man more. Therefore, this disproportionate criticism leads us to think two things: the first is that they are creating an atmosphere for a political attack and secondly, that Obama wants to leave his mark on the Middle East with what he considers a boost to the peace process.

But it is difficult to think that he’s right: the real contribution that he could have given is that of devising a new plan of territorial distribution (his predecessors all did the same thing); to finally push the parties toward talks; to ask Abu Mazen to renounce his support for terrorism; and to favor Israel’s integration within theMiddle East. However, he didn’t do it.

Obama – if he insists – will be remembered as the president whose pacifism (as has already happened in the past) has fueled conflict throughout the Middle East and beyond. He will be perceived as the anti-proliferation president who let the pact with Russia fall to pieces, as the point of reference for Islamic moderation that favored Iran and Hezbollah’s Shiite extremism, and whofailed to stop Sunni extremism whileupsetting his more moderate allies. This legacy of failures will only be worsened by sanctions upon the only pro-American democracy in the Middle East.

Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 8, 2016)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.