From Cairo 2009 to Jerusalem 2013

March 25, 2013 3:14 am 0 comments

Screen shot of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking after receiving Medal of Distinction. Photo: Ynet.

Is President Obama learning from history by avoiding – or repeating – the crucial errors of his 2009 visit to the Middle East?

In 2009, Obama anticipated engagement, rather than confrontation, with Iran, which threatens the survival of pro-US Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf and beyond. Obama expected an Arab Spring and a march of pro-US democracy on the Arab Street, rather than the stormy, tectonic anti-US Arab Winter. Just like President Carter’s reckless abandonment of the Shah and his courting of Khomeini, President Obama turned his back on America’s ally, Mubarak, while extending his hand to America’s inherent enemy, the trans-national, subversive Muslim Brotherhood. The desertion of Mubarak undermined US reliability in the eyes of pro-US Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf States. Furthermore, the newly-elected President promoted the UN as the quarterback of international relations and the US as a multilateral arbitrator/mediator, rather than a unilateral, determined military superpower. Such a policy has eroded America’s posture of deterrence, which is the backbone of the dwindling club of pro-US Arab regimes.

In 2013, President Obama is increasingly aware that a nuclear Iran would primarily target vital US economic, national and homeland security interests. He is better acquainted with the threat of the Arab Winter, the potential disintegration of a few Arab countries and the intensification of Islamic terrorism. The 2013 visit aims to reassure pro-US Arab regimes, who dread a nuclear Iran and are disillusioned with the US focus on diplomacy and economic sanctions. They doubt Washington’s intent to employ the only effective option against Iran: a surgical, disproportional military preemption with no boots on the ground. President Obama aspires to secure the remaining pro-US Arab regimes in the face of the conventional and chemical lava erupting on the Syrian Street, which could sweep through Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and other Arab countries.

In 2009, the US President considered the Palestinian issue the epicenter of Middle East turbulence and anti-US Islamic terrorism, a facilitator of anti-Iran Arab coalition and the crown-jewel of Arab policy-making.

In 2013, the seismic Arab Street, from northwest Africa to the Persian Gulf, has exposed the marginal role played by the Palestinian issue in shaping Arab priorities and Middle East developments. Irrespective of Palestinian-oriented rhetoric, President Obama’s visit is driven by Iran’s nuclearization, the exploding Arab Street and the outcry by America’s Arab allies, not by the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Palestinian issue. Neither the Middle East, nor US-Israel relations, evolves around the Palestinian issue.

In 2009, the US President assumed that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is over the size – not the existence – of Israel, hence the formula of land-for-peace. Therefore, he insisted that painful Israeli concessions would pacify the Palestinians, rather than whet their appetite and radicalize their policy. He believed that his goodwill and charismatic communications skills would achieve an Israel-Palestinian agreement, which eluded his White House predecessors. He was certain that his conviction could produce a peace accord in a region that has never experienced intra-Arab peaceful coexistence, intra-Arab tolerance, intra-Arab compliance with agreements and not one Arab democracy in the last 1,400 years. He promoted “Give peace a chance” in a region, where too many sanctify martyrdom (suicide bombing) rather than life.

In 2013, Obama harbors much of his 2009 approach towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, while recognizing that pressuring Israel radicalizes the Palestinians. He ignores the centrality of Islam, which prohibits “infidel” sovereignty in the abode of Islam. Moreover, notwithstanding the US financial and diplomatic embrace of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas and Salaam Fayyad have moved closer to Hamas, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, fueling anti-US, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments via incitement and hate-education in Palestinian schools, mosques and media. Is Obama aware that the application of moral equivalence to Israel (the role model of counter-terrorism and unconditional alliance with the USA) and to the Palestinians (the role model of international terrorism and allies of the Nazis, Communist Bloc, Saddam Hussein, Khomeini and Bin Laden) has been morally-wrong and strategically-flawed? Is he aware that unprecedented Israeli gestures (e.g., 1993 Oslo Accord, 2005 uprooting Jewish settlements) were interpreted as weakness, propelling unprecedented hate-education, terrorism and non-compliance?

In 2009, the US President approached Israel as a minor strategic ally, possibly a burden, obstructing US ties with Muslims.

In 2013, Israel is highlighted as the only stable, reliable, predictable, capable, democratic and unconditional ally of the US, in contrast with the increasingly violent, intolerant, unpredictable, unstable, unreliable and anti-US Arab Street. US-Israel strategic cooperation has been considerably upgraded, independent of US-Israel disagreements over the Palestinian issue, and as a result of regional and global developments which are much more significant than the Palestinian issue. Shared values, mutual threats, joint interests and Israel’s cutting edge defense and commercial technologies and battle tactics have underscored the mutually-beneficial, two-way-street, win-win ties between the US and Israel.

In order to avoid the errors of the 2009 visit, and attain the key goals of the 2013 visit – the bolstering of the US posture of deterrence and power projection in the face of Iran and the boiling lava on the Arab Street, regardless of the Palestinian issue – President Obama may have to walk the (military) walk, not just talk the (diplomatic and economic) talk.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.