As most of President Obama’s predecessors in the White House witnessed, getting the Arab world to agree to real peace with Israel is not easy. Reflecting on the 2000 Camp David talks between Israel (led by the center-left government of Ehud Barak) and the Palestinians (led by the former Fatah leader-in-terror, Yasser Arafat), former US President, Bill Clinton said, no agreement was reached under his aegis because although Israel agreed to give up 96 percent of the West Bank, the Palestinians “never said yes.”
Bill Clinton’s legacy will be marked by a mix of results in his wide-spread efforts in the international arena. The Arab-Israeli conflict is an area he was particularly active in and with some positive results (perhaps the best example is the Israel–Jordan peace treaty of 1994).
In contrast, Barack Obama’s international legacy is marked almost exclusively by criticism, coming from all corners of the spectrum. President Obama was elected on a simple mandate and he understood it with passion: “be the opposite of George W. Bush”. That meant, among other important elements, withdrawing US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and making sure no such interventions are attempted during his term.
The way president Obama understood this mandate is painfully clear in the disastrous landscape we see has been crafted around the world in the last eight years: more than half a million people murdered in Syria, hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq, more than 10 thousand dead in Ukraine as a result of the Russian unchecked intervention there, the Boko Haram Nigeria massacres. Other results include the Islamic Winter revolution (originally branded “The Arab spring”), which has created a toxic reality across North Africa and the Arab Peninsula and has created an impasse all the way into Northern Europe – with a high potential for a clash of civilizations and a revival of extremism on both sides of the host/guest relationship.
One major Obama presidency legacy is the way he handled enemies. He managed to sign two rapprochement deals, with both Iran and Cuba, both seen as ‘weak’, or even as a capitulation, by experts on the two countries. Both accords have been signed at a time when long-term sanctions were proven to have created enough pressure on both dictatorial regimes to implode on their own (via their oppressed populations). But both seemed to have had the entire weight of the US president placed upon a quick signature. Let’s not forget that Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, only a few months after assuming office – for doing nothing more than, perhaps, being the complete opposite of G.W. Bush.
The sense of a messianic figure and mission Obama was on has never really departed the White House master. It was in this vein that he has attempted a few shots at also sorting out the Israelis and Palestinians. To his great surprise, he seemed to never manage anything exciting enough to post-factum justify his Nobel Prize! Who to blame? In the great post-colonial society tradition – it was the ‘white’ ‘oppressor’ that was the likely culprit. Never mind the fact that Jews are not ‘white’ or ‘the oppressor’, never mind the murderous education of a zero-sum-game against the Jews – that Palestinians are, sadly, taught from infancy.
The irresponsible and childish, you-don’t-know-better-I-am-the-POTUS relationship he has created with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (due, in part, to their similar age and education – BO has likely, subconsciously, seen Bibi as a threat to his personal stature) has been the start of a series of measures which has affected the bipartisan US-Israel special relationship.
Even his worst critics have not really thought possible his last shot at Israel (and her PM) – he not only instructed the United States Ambassador to the United Nations to not veto resolution Resolution 2334 (2016), according to some Israeli officials – the US has been involved in drafting the text!
I’ll leave you with only a tiny excerpt of this resolution and leave the conclusions for you to draw:
“[..] Recalling the obligation under the Quartet Roadmap, endorsed by its resolution 1515 (2003), for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including “natural growth”, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001 [..]”.
Just to clarify: “natural growth” means ‘Jews having babies’.
As hundreds of thousands of new potential victims are born today, from Sudan to Syria, here’s hoping no future US President will permit the slaughtering of minorities, be they Yazidi, Kurdish, Christian or Muslim. As to the Jews, we have learned the hard way to not place our faith in other people’s hands and hearts.
As we start the holiday of Hanukkah (and Christians celebrate Christmas), here’s hoping for a rekindling of the light of the centuries-long bond between the United States and Israel!