Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is Obama Good for Israel?

In a previous post (Three Elections,) I mentioned that, since Obama was dangerously inexperienced and had dubious associations, I was going to be voting for McCain. However, I also added a sort of disclaimer:

Of course, I remember, eight years ago, writing that G.W. Bush would be, like his father, a Country Club Republican, sneering and hostile to Israel. Boy did I have him pegged wrong! Maybe I've got Obama all wrong too, and he will completely break with the views of his friends and advisers to become a truly noble person.

In the 2000 presidential election, I voted Democrat, for fear of George W. Bush being as hostile to Israel as his father had been. But during the Second Intifada, when the Europe and much of the American left betrayed Israel and sided with terrorism, Bush's stalwart support stood out like a lone voice in the wilderness. After two years of mass murder in the streets of Jerusalem at the hands of Islamic predators, in 2002 his diplomatic support provided Israel the latitude to finally send in the tanks and crush the terror war. As terrorism continued to drop, despite almost unbearable European and Arab pressure to throw Israel to the wolves, he supported Israel's defensive measures, including the targeted assassinations of the terror gangsters, the construction of the security barrier, and the erection of life-saving checkpoints. I felt that despite Bush's having botched Iraq and reduced America's strength domestically and abroad, I could give him a bit of leeway.

I was gravely concerned when Obama won the election and took office, given the animosity of many of his associates to Israel and fear they would be moved into positions of influence. His recent overtures to Syria and the State Department's calling for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (disarm) while simultaneously allowing Iran to build a bomb are causes for concern. Also disconcerting is his apparent support for the "Arab Peace Initiative," which calls for a complete withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice line, the destruction of the Jewish villages over the armistice line and the dispossession and destitution of their half-million inhabitants, and the unlimited immigration of hostile Arabs from neighboring countries into what would be left of Israel to vote this country into the grave.

But really, none of these threats, except Iran, have any teeth to them. Israel will never surrender its nuclear weapons, ever. Syria will not realign itself with the United States. Israel will not sign an Arab Peace Initiative which legalizes its own destruction, and will only accept a modified version in which Israel would somehow continue to exist. For a Muslim state to sign such a modified Arab Peace Initiative with a Jewish state guaranteeing its continued existence would imply some sort of shared humanity between Jews and Muslims. The Islamic political program enacted in neighboring Arab states legalizes an Apartheid system with Muslims on top and non-Muslims (Dhimmi) completely disenfranchised, so any Arab leader who signed a treaty would be branded a heretic.

As for Iran, well, both Clinton and Bush II also sat idly by and did nothing while they pursued their nuclear ambitions, so Obama is no better or worse. It's like watching the diabolical villain in a James Bond movie, except with no James Bond to stop him. On the other hand, I remember reading headlines back in 1998 that Iran was six months away from having the bomb.

As for Obama's anti-Israel advisors, it's important to remember back to the administration of Bush I. James Baker influenced George H. W. Bush to threaten to withhold foreign aid if Israel's conservative Shamir administration were to continue building in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (the "Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip") Shamir realized Bush I was so implacably hostile he had nothing to lose, and so he founded dozens of new settlements and authorized massive expansions in the others. It was the greatest flowering of the rebirth of Jewish life in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in the last forty years. Even today, two decades later, homes are still being built based on permits he issued. As for Bush I's threats, congress stepped in and stopped him, so there were no negative consequences.

Is Obama good for Israel? No, but neither is he bad, merely indifferent. While Obama and Netanyahu may not share the lock-step relationship that Bush II and Sharon did, I don't sense much overt hostility from the Obama administration. The administration is staffed with savvy politicians and business people who have to fix their own country first, so why would they risk a fight with congress over an issue no president has ever been able to solve anyway? If Obama can somehow repair the economic disaster he inherited, it would be better for Israel to have a lukewarm but strong ally under Obama than an enthusastic but pitifully weak one as under Bush II.
The peace processors are returning to the region with their lingo about, "windows of opportunity," "peace partners," and "bolstering moderates." In the end it will prove impossible to reconcile the Arab objective to deprive the Middle East's non-Muslims of their freedom with Israel's objective to continue existing. The world will keep turning, the diplomats will keep yacking, the Arabs will stew in belligerent self-pity, and Israel will keep growing.
Next week... is Obama good for America?

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