The President Loses The Rest of Us

“There are a lot of filters between me and the Israelis,” President Obama said in a self-negating statement while being interviewed on Israeli TV last night. He was explaining why he is so unpopular in Israel, unlike his highly popular two immediate predecessors.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is somebody who’s predisposed … to think perhaps that peace is naïve.”

How cute. President Obama has equated himself with “peace.” The Prime Minister doesn’t think peace is naive. He thinks the president is.

The Prime Minister thinks it might be a tad naive and irresponsible in the short term to sign a peace agreement that will allow a Palestinian State with an open border to Jordan and points East. That will allow free transport of dangerous weapons, by land and planes, to East Jerusalem and to the hills less than a mile away from Israel’s airport and key population centers. That would make Israel exceedingly vulnerable to people that just a few days ago admitted on TV that if they had nukes they’d have used them against Israel that morning.

“The deal we are negotiating will take a nuclear bomb off the table for the next 20 years.” That’s not what he said on NPR, and not something anybody believes.

The prime minister had not done enough to explore the “politics of hope.”’ Heh. Even the guy who did the president’s hope poster admits how foolish he feels for buying into and spreading that. And after watching what the president did for the people of Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran and Egypt, would it really be responsible for Israel’s prime minister to have the audacity of hope in the president’s mastery of Middle East peace?

“If I turned up at the Knesset without checking with the prime minister first, or negotiated with Mr. [Isaac] Herzog [leader of the Israeli opposition], there would be certain protocols breached.”

Ah, yes, glad we got to this.

  1. The president did the opposite. He was asked by the prime minister and speaker of the Knesset to speak to the Knesset, as visiting foreign leaders often do. But while in Jerusalem the president chose to snub Israel’s elected government and instead speak to an audience of his choosing.
  2. Speaker Boehner isn’t the opposition leader, he’s the speaker of the House.
  3. Earlier White House statements make it seem that the prime minister thought the speech to Congress was cleared with the White House before the prime minister accepted.

Even if the president is correct that the prime minister violated protocol, it was a pretty extreme circumstance, and no, it couldn’t wait three months until Israel’s new government was elected and formed.

“The danger is that Israel as a whole loses credibility.” When did Israel have credibility? When Israel’s first prime minister, Ben Gurion said “it doesn’t matter what others say, it matter what we do?” When President Eisenhower stopped Ben Gurion in 56? When the world community abandoned and betrayed Levi Eshkol in 67? When Golda Meir yelled at her fellow socialists for abandoning her in 73? When President Clinton made Rabin bring back the terrorists he had expelled to Lebanon in 93? When the world condemned Prime Minister Peres for attacks in Lebanon in 96?

All the aforementioned prime ministers, by the way, were of the left.

The president’s speech was so bad that it made Times of Israel editor David Horovitz defend Prime Minister Netanyahu. I wish I owned a bar near their offices when he wrote that.

Some people always look at the most objectionable thing Jews are doing and, whether it’s keeping Shabbat or Kosher or praying for Jerusalem say “If you just stop doing that — or associating with people who do that — we’ll be great friends.” “If you make clear that you’re also repulsed by those crazy and offensive Jews with sidecurls, or funny hats and fringes, or Israeli flags, we’ll know you’re just like us and we’ll get along swimmingly.” “If you just support my Iran deal and withdraw to the 1949  armistice line, you’ll regain your credibility and my friendship.”

It’s never true, and it never works. Israel should either make concessions or not, based on what it thinks is morally and strategically correct. It should be under no illusions that this will get them new friends.

But people try it anyway. Horovitz of course took his customary swipe at those bad Jews, identifying himself as one of the good Jews, “the non-zealots, the ones who don’t want to annex the West Bank and subvert our democracy.” I guess he needs that to maintain his association with his primary tribe, the good people of all nations and faiths. When you’ve lost people like that, Mr. President, you’ve lost.

President Obama can address the Israeli people from the Knesset, on TV, or wherever. The more he talks to them, the more they realize that they need to bunker down for the next eighteen months.

About the Author
Gil Reich is the author of If You Write My Story, which helps kids deal with life, love, and loss. He is also co-founder of internet marketing and development company Managing Greatness. Previously Gil was VP of Product Management at He has been a popular speaker at internet marketing conferences around the world.
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