Barry Shaw

Tighten your safety belts, Israel!

“Tighten your safety belts, Israel!  We’re in for another four years of Obama.”

Americans apparently overlooked four years of economic waste, and a failed foreign policy of sucking up to the Muslim world, by re-electing their president.  What now?

Israeli people in the know predict that Obama will shortly reveal an agreement with Iran that will position Tehran stopping their uranium enrichment program in return for easing of sanctions.  Incredibly, Obama will launch it as a success story while Israel will present it as a fair story. Obama will want to put Iran out of reach for the world so as to enable him to continue his  Socialist experiment for America and to progress his global vision of leveling the playing field for a better world, which implies weakening America further, economically and militarily, to come more into line with less fortunate nations. As almost immediate proof of this, expect to see swinging defense cuts, including sizeable unemployment, in the early part of 2013.  In fact, we will be hearing of unemployment soaring over the 8% mark again as early as February 2013 in America. Their national debt will grow accordingly.

All this will embolden a growing Islamic world that will be stupefied to see America give their leader another mandate to continue his apology policy towards them. A new Obama Administration, pleading with the Muslim world “to be nice, please, because we don’t hate you,” is not going to cut it in this violent and crazy neck of the woods. They consider him weak and will view America in decline.

There is no way that Obama is going to change his personal animosity towards Israel’s Prime Minister. Benjamin Netanyahu is fully expected to win the January Israeli elections with a bloc linked to Israeli Beitenu. He is expected to cobble together a center-right government together with Shas, the Sephardi religious party, the new Yair Lapid party of Yesh Atid (There is a Future), another national religious party and, perhaps, the remnants of what will be left of the centrist Kadema party. If Obama continues to express views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict that did nothing to ease the parties into talks, as he repeatedly did during his first four years, this issue will be log-jammed for the foreseeable future. It was Obama blurting out pre-conditions to Israel on completely stopping “settlement activity” and withdrawing to 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, instead of encouraging the parties back into the negotiating room, that encouraged Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to climb further up the tree of rejectionism, a tree that he has been unable to climb out of. “Why should I be less Palestinian than the man in the White House,” he has repeatedly said. In fact, the previous Obama Administration did nothing to pressure or cajole the Palestinian leadership to stop their intransigence and incitement against Israel and get back to the table. As a result, they now see an adamant Abbas turning again defying America and going to the United Nations for non-member statehood stat (whatever that means), and a divided Palestinian society with the Hamas wing maintaining their violent hardline not only against Israel but also against the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. Obama can blame Bibi if he wishes, but he is guilty of a lion share of the blame for failing to progress the peace process. At least under Bush the two sides were talking to each other.

It is clear that Obama 2 will be too busy tackling the US economy, trying to progress Obamacare, and leading from behind internationally, to give too much attention to Israel and the Palestinians. He is in enough difficulties in the rest of the Middle East to burn his fingers sorting out this problem. This leaves Israel more isolated than before. True, are being backed militarily but look closely at what we are getting. The budget will be primarily for defensive anti-rocket hardware. Expect future restrictions on our attack capabilities. In other words, it will be a policy of providing us with the umbrella to protect ourselves from incoming missiles while leaving us limited in our long distance strike options. Israel will not put their faith in the Ayatollahs no matter what agreement Obama signs with Iran. Ahmadinajad will be replaced by another puppet of the religious leaders in 2013. The West may project him as a moderate, compared with the outgoing president. The new guy may talk less publicly about wiping Israel off the map, but the ones pulling the strings will still be there, behind the scenes, plotting the fate of the Zionist entity.  Israel will be further encircled with an alien enemy. Assad’s Syria will fall. It will not be replaced by a pragmatic secular government. Can anyone predict who will be ruling Jordan by the end of 2013? In fact, what will be the fate of unpopular and aging Mahmoud Abbas in 2013? Will Fatah fall and be replaced by Hamas in the West Bank?  Will the Palestinian Authority fracture?

What are these implications for Israel? With Obama in power, free to pursue his ideas until 2016, it must point to going it alone. Obama was caught with an open microphone while chatting with Russian President Medvedev in March 2012.  “Let me get reelected first,” he said, “then I’ll have a better chance of making something happen. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”  “Flexibility” as far as Israel is concerned will be a harder line than before.

Thanks to the result of the American election, and the return of Obama to the White House, Israel is more isolated now than it was before.

Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’

About the Author
Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is also the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism,' '1917. From Palestine to the Land of Israel, 'BDS for IDIOTS,' and his latest work 'A Tale of Love and Destiny,' the dramatic life of a Jewish heroine.