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Obama sided with the forces of darkness

On his way out of office, the US president became a willing accomplice and bystander to Israel’s isolation

Barack Obama hosted Hanukkah parties at the White House throughout his presidency, but he waited until shortly after his final one, the day right before Hanukkah, to deliver his parting shot to the Jewish people. If only this Hanukkah gift could be returned.

Abstaining from the UN Security Council Resolution that condemned all Israeli settlements, including East Jerusalem, as having “no legal validity,” deemed the Western Wall as Palestine proper, backtracked on UN Security Council Resolution 242 by redrawing Israel’s border back to the pre-1967 armistice line and reneging on the entire “land for peace” principle, is a bitter betrayal.

This is not the way to treat a friend and ally. The daylight that now exists between the United States and Israel is blinding. This is abstention masquerading as tough love against the only democracy in a region filled with hatred for the United States and everything it stands for. President Obama is one community organizer who never seemed to grasp the importance of knowing who is in your community, and differentiating friend from foe.

Perhaps no one should be surprised. After all, Obama began his foreign policy misadventures by sending all the wrong messages to America’s enemies while neglecting its friends. He apologized to the Muslim world in his infamous Cairo speech without paying a courtesy call to Jerusalem. He sent annual New Year’s greetings to Iran while the mullahs rolled in laughter on their Persian carpets. He negotiated a deal with Iran on nuclear enrichment that made America’s allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia — feel all the more poor. He mocked American exceptionalism as if any other country could possibly claim this mantle in America’s absence. Indeed, he repeatedly withdrew American might from the world as if the United States was in full retreat.

A red line in Syria was seemingly drawn in invisible ink. Iraq and Afghanistan were drained of American ground troops, which gave ISIS an open playing field to demonstrate just how much better they were than a JV team. Obama led so far from behind in Libya that America was barely among the coalition forces — too late even for mop-up duty. He romanticized an Arab Spring that only brought more darkness to the Middle East’s medievalist ways. He allowed Russia and China to rampage their regions with impunity. They even engaged in cyber warfare against the United States. There were times when this president acted as if foreign policy was nothing but a video game, or a faculty lounge hypothetical, without real world consequences.

His toughest hand was always reserved for Israel, which became the repository for his anti-colonialist impulses. In his mind, Israeli settlements were the reasons for Palestinian suffering, which this UN Security Council Resolution now codifies as a “major obstacle” to peace. Civilian casualties during the Gaza War were always due to Israel’s lack of restraint. Palestinian rockets, terror tunnels, human shields, and knife stabbings — not so much. Indeed, when this UN Security Council Resolution addresses terrorism and incitement, it never specifies which side is responsible for the violence. Its one-sided condemnation would make someone unfamiliar with the true practitioners of the trade to believe that terrorism was Israel’s fault, too.

Surely there are those who will continue to credit President Obama with having Israel’s back. But will they now finally acknowledge that Israel’s back now has a knife in it? Yes, there were the generous foreign aid packages, the Iron Dome that kept the Dome of the Rock safe too, and the joint military maneuvers and intelligence sharing between nations. But these were mutually-reinforcing gifts that benefited the United States, as well. Who is the United States going to share intelligence with — Syria, Yemen, Iran? A secure Israel, located in a combustible region where oil, terror and Sharia mixed in sinister ways, kept America safe, too.

The UN is a toothless body with scant enforcement powers and a penchant for Third World tantrums. The General Assembly’s moral hypocrisy in passing resolutions that condemn Israel — 250 this past year alone as compared with 6 for Syria — is a giant rumble of anti-Zionist bloodthirst. The Security Council, at least, retains veto powers for its permanent members — apparently, the only adults in the room. This is where the United States usually demonstrated its friendship to Israel and its moral leadership in the world.

Now President Obama, on his way out of office, has added his own feckless, unprincipled stamp to this global circus. By abstaining on a Security Council charade that he could have easily vetoed — something he did eight years ago, with a similar anti-settlement measure — he sided with the forces of darkness and converted the war on terror into a celebration. Possessing the power to veto an injustice, and choosing instead to abstain, President Obama became a willing accomplice and bystander to Israel’s isolation.

Worse still, he may have colluded with, and emboldened the Palestinians to stay away from the negotiating table, bide their time while launching more rockets and stabbing more Israelis. After all, why wouldn’t the Palestinians now feel that “diplomacy” — Obama-style — is their fast track to statehood with Jerusalem as a Hanukkah gift given to the altogether wrong people.

About the Author
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist and Distinguished Fellow at NYU School of Law where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society (FOLCS). He is the author, most recently, of the novel, "How Sweet It Is!" His forthcoming nonfiction book is titled, "The High Cost of Free Speech: Rethinking the First Amendment."