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September 6, 2011 12:03 pm

Greetings To Robert Gates From an Ungrateful Ally

avatar by Arik Elman

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President Obama with Erdogan.

Israel is an ungrateful ally of the United States. So says Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense until recently, according to Jeffrey Goldberg. There’s no reason not to believe Goldberg’s account – after all, this accusation is but a distilled sentiment of the Obama administration toward the Jewish state and its current government, since the beginning of this “special” (in a very bad way) bilateral relationship.

Driven by its ideological biases and bad advice, Barack Obama and his team had embarked on the ambitious and misguided campaign to achieve full or partial “regime change” in Jerusalem. Believing that displays of presidential displeasure will be sufficient for Israeli public to blame its’ elected leaders for endangering the vital bond with America, Obama and his team had subjected the Israeli Prime Minister to a series of diplomatic humiliations and malicious leaks, aimed at the Israeli voters and designed to orchestrate either a change of policy contrary to what those voters had approved, or even change in the ruling coalition in Jerusalem – because, face it, from the public behavior of this administration it is clear that it sees in the current Israeli government the only real obstacle to peace in the Middle East, maybe on Earth.

Instead of building on the detailed and dedicated work of his predecessor, who has got Israel and the Palestinians to the brink of agreement through both direct negotiations and American involvement and assistance, Obama had used the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a means to an end – to ingratiate himself with Arab and Muslim masses by publicly cold-shouldering Israel. Instead of using his advantageous starting position as a lever to corral Israel and the PA into a scheduled framework of endgame talks, where behind closed doors America can bring its weight to bear in search of compromises that will be equally painful to both sides, Obama had publicly embraced both the ideology and demands of the Palestinian side, taking them to extremes that Palestinians themselves haven’t thought of.

It was Obama who, for a considerable time, had refused to speak of the historical right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, presenting Israel instead – to the Arab audience – as a problem child of the Holocaust. It was Obama who went beyond the Oslo framework and demanded from Israel to cease all construction behind the “Green Line”, instantly creating for the Palestinians a red line behind which they cannot retreat. It was Obama who had pulled out of his high hat a deadline to end all deadlines – September 2011, when the Palestinian state was supposed to be proclaimed on the ground. And it was Obama who, having flushed down the toilet a presidential commitment of George W. Bush to Ariel Sharon, had declared the indefensible “1967 borders” as a desirable border between Palestine and Israel (what’s left of it). These easily avoidable blunders had derailed the negotiations and brought about the September showdown which Obama is belatedly trying to avoid – at Israel’s expense.

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And yet Israel is an ungrateful ally.

Faced with that hostility, the Israeli government did all it could to accommodate Washington, without clearly betraying the mandate given to it by the people. It refused to even mention Bush’s letter to Sharon. It proclaimed yet again its commitment to the two-state solution and partial removal of settlements. It restrained itself from acting against the terrorist threat from Gaza and the smuggling of rockets to Hezbollah in Syria. It implemented a host of measures that revived the Palestinian economy. It declared, for the first time, a building freeze in Judea and Samaria which contributed significantly to the rise of the real estate prices throughout the country, fueling resentment against it on account both of ideology and public welfare. And it apologized profusely for the bureaucratic mistake that lead to housing announcement during Vice President Biden’s visit to Jerusalem, and went on to stall practically all new construction in the capital’s new neighborhoods for as long as lawfully possible.

And yet Israel is an ungrateful ally.

For all this breathless talk about the wonder weapons and defense systems that Obama administration supposedly made available to Israel, the President and his national security team hadn’t managed to stop the Iranian march to nuclear capacity and today it is safe to conclude that they never gave the military option against Tehran a serious thought. Acting on a pattern that will became evident in Syria, the leader of the free world has refused to came out in support of the Iranian “Green Movement” and continued to treat the election-stealing Holocaust-denier as a legitimate leader of his country. “They need to own their revolution” – went an explanation in Washington, yet how peaceful and unarmed protesters can “own” anything against a fanatical regime certain of its divine right and hell-bent on staying in power, was never satisfactorily explained. Even when the Wikileaks “Cablegate” proved what Israel has been claiming all along – that for the Gulf States, the Palestinian problem is an irritant, but Iran is a mortal threat – the party line in Washington had not changed. It is hard not to conclude that the real reason for the much-vaunted “increased military cooperation” between American and Israeli armies is not to prepare for the future struggles against mutual enemies, but to gain intelligence and to develop back channels into the Israeli security decision-making process so as to prevent a surprise Israeli attack on Iran. Those who pride themselves on the amount of military hardware that Obama, in his classical “throw money at the problem” approach, has provided to Israel at the American taxpayer’s expense, need to explain what good it can do if the President is determined to prevent Israel from ever using it.

And yet Israel is an ungrateful ally.

Obama’s Justice Department has directed the FBI to spy on Israeli diplomats. Obama’s Department of the Interior had buried the process (started by Bush) to include Israel in a visa waiver program. Instead, the Jewish State has found itself on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of countries that “have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members.” Obama’s State Department has legitimized a sterile and fruitless demand for Israel to join the NPT.  And to cap it all off, the administration has excluded Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv and Netanya and Ashdod and Sderot and Beer-Sheba and Haifa from the list of cities attacked by terrorists in its 9/11 anniversary guidelines. The “resilience of individuals, families, and communities” of Israeli victims of Muslim terrorism is definitely NOT being celebrated. It is, in fact, palpably annoying.

And yet Israel is an ungrateful ally.

Since the beginning of the current turmoil in the Arab world, the Obama administration has acted as if the American-Israeli alliance is a shameful burden that must not be mentioned. By refusing to articulate its expectations from the new and future rulers of Egypt to unequivocally commit themselves to peace with Israel, by establishing a dialog with Egyptian Islamists without any preconditions, Obama has sent Egyptian radicals a clear message that Israel is on its own. Of course, when the predictable disaster struck at the Sinai border, the administration was forced to recall that the United States of America guaranteed Israel’s security under the terms of the peace treaty in 1979 and it cannot permit Amr Moussa or any other future leader to trample the Camp David accords. But why should the frenzied Egyptian public listen to Obama and not to those who claim that peace was the result of Mubarak’s corruption and betrayal, and that Israel can be destroyed by the new Egyptian army – trained and equipped by Americans and motivated by Islam?

And yet Israel is an ungrateful ally.

When the Obama administration came to office, it had in front of it a clear assessment of the Turkish Prime Minister’s views on Israel. According to Ambassador James Jeffrey’s report from Ankara, dated October 27th, 2009, “Erdogan simply hates Israel” (we know this thanks to Wikileaks, again. Call me crazy, but could the administration’s treatment of Bradley Manning reflect its rage at the help those leaks gave to Israel’s cause?) And yet, clearly preferring Erdogan to Netanyahu, Obama went on to prop up the Turkish Islamist with dubious friends and nefarious connections as a cornerstone of a new American diplomacy in the region. All possible irritants to this new friendship – the Armenians, the Kurds – were removed, promises to them broken and forgotten. At the joint press-conference in the White House on November 7th, 2009, Obama didn’t even mention Israel (Erdogan did.)

When the Turkish Islamists close to Erdogan’s own AK Party spearheaded an attack on a lawful Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010, Washington did not intervene – at least, not with Turkey. The read-out of the phone conversation between Obama and Erdogan on May 19th 2010 doesn’t include any mention of the impending departure of anti-Israeli provocateurs from Turkish ports (Obama was busy digesting the nuclear “deal” that his Turkish friend has just signed with Iran). And yet, the administration had found time to demand “caution and restraint” – from Israel! Those demands and implicit threats had no doubt affected the planning of the Israeli response, and like a night into day led to a confrontation in which one side prepared for restraint, and the other just wanted to kill some Jews. The immediate response of the administration was not “to take Israel’s side,” but to declare the Gaza blockade “untenable.” And after the blockade on land was practically eliminated and the Hamas rule cemented, Washington took upon itself “to deliver” an Israeli apology to Erdogan on Erdogan’s terms. Instead of waiting for the report of the respectable and impartial UN commission of inquiry and strongly recommending to both Israel and Turkey to commit themselves to obey its recommendations, the Obama administration had pressured Israel to apologize so that the “Palmer report” wouldn’t see the light of day. Is it so surprising that Erdogan, whose fulminations on the “illegality” of Israeli blockade were debunked by the report, is throwing a temper tantrum while the administration is blaming Israel? What will happen if the Turkish swinging sultan decides to back his threats with actions and orders his navy to break the blockade while he celebrates with his ideological compatriots from Hamas? What will Obama do?

And yet Israel is an ungrateful ally.

It’s not Israel’s intransigence, it’s Obama’s policies that created the looming fiasco in the UN, encouraged Israel’s enemies in the Muslim world and emasculated the security arrangements that existed in the region for decades. Just like the American economy, Israel’s real problems cannot be solved by more money from Washington. What Israel needs is an American regional leadership and its diplomatic support. Just like friends of Israel tried to explain to Obama from the very beginning, only full confidence in the American President can move the Israeli public to support territorial concessions to people they cannot trust. Israel is a miniscule dot on a map, surrounded by vicious enemies whose idea of the perfect world is a world without the Jewish State. More than money, more than weapons, what Israel needs from America is a feeling that Uncle Sam has got our back, that the American commitment to Israel’s survival is absolute. When Israel is required to pay in crucial territorial assets for protection against the existential threat from Iran, this security is destroyed. Israelis don’t need a command from Obama “to search their hearts” to understand the necessity of separation from the Palestinians. They understand it perfectly well. They also understand that while the American people are their true and tested ally, the American President is something else.

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  • Ivan Chernyakhovsky

    Robert Gates is one of these that think that because of the military aid they own the Jews, Israel and their history and future existence. A typical thought of typical American, especially White. What an idiot bastard.

  • creature from planet earth

    obama is a muslim therefore he is trying to destroy Israel. However Israel is protected by G-D King of the Universe. G-D has promised in Genesis 12 that HE will curse those who curse the Jews so obama no matter what he does against Israel will be cursed. In addition the Jews have been a blessing to mankind since mankind has benifited from the medical work the has been awarded by 45 Nobel Prizes in medicine going to Jewish people. [note that there is no arab that has won a Nobel Prize in Medicine]

  • ER

    thank you for this article, though it is only the tip of a long list of anti-Israel words & actions from this administration, the most shocking to me being when Obama from Cairo lifted a saying that sounded nice alone from the well-known passage in the Quran that’s explicitly legitimizes killing the children of Israel & taking their land.

  • ORLY

    In reply to Mr. N. Jones’ comment, I respectfully wish to stress that Israel gets U.S$3 billion in military aid per year, 75% of it to be spent in the United States and not 6 billion as quoted. Israel has given up on the economic aid some years ago. Egypt on the other hand gets 2 billion aid per year but it certainly cannot be considered a friendly nation. The majority of the population hate Americans and keep burning their flag every now and then, with great animosity towards the American people as a whole. Israelis can dislike this administration with good cause, but they love the American people.

  • TexasRedNeck

    Millions of Americans love and respect Israel, I’m sick of a handful of people thinking that they speak for millions of American’s that care and pray for the people in Israel that only want to live in peace but are unable to do so because of total disrespect of the entire world.
    No other group of people on this earth have been treated so horrible and are so hated as the Jews are.They do not want to conquer the world, they only want to be left alone so they can live in peace. I pray that one day soon they will not have to live with the constant threat of being attacked and murdered. Real Americans DO love Israel and support her.

  • H.Jones

    The US taxpayers give over 6 billion a year to the Israeli State.
    Back in the winter of 2010, the US actually vetoed a UN resolution that would have condemned the settlements- a resolution that the Obama administration actually agreed with in principle.
    The so-called peace process drags on for 20 years while the state and the army of one side is in control of the other side and builds more and more settlements and restricts the non-settler civilian population to less and less land.
    It’s not surprising that after decades of the peace process where one side refuses to give up the settlements, the Palestinians are sick of it and are going to the UN.
    And considering that the US has gone out of its way to veto a resolution against settlements- a resolution it agreed with in principle, and gives 6 billion$ a year during a major recession, it’s surprising that this government isn’t considered an “ally”.

  • ORLY

    Mr. Obama has been the worst President since mr. Carter, not only where Israel is concerned. Thanks to his behavior, the United States has lost the respect of the world and even of the Arab world, despite all his efforts to please them. Mr. Erdogan who doesn’t give a damn about U.S interests and leadership, would have never dared to behave the way he does, if America was strong. I simply cannot see any good thing that Mr. Obama has succeeded doing for his country and the world, including health insurance. I do hope that the American people will chose a better leader in the next elections. Good luck American People. I love and respect you.

    • TexasRedNeck

      I pray that America will vote against Palestinian statehood on Sept. 20th..
      God will show His wrath on any nation that tries to divide the land He gave to the Jews. The American people had better stand up for Israel or we will pay for not doing so.

  • MH8169

    I am not sure what Chaim F is saying. Your convuluted thinking is fogging your grammar. Israel can never do enough. Sharon gave up on Gaza and what did Israel get in return? 10,000 + rockets. Territorial concessions will not solve that Arab hunger. They and the world call Israel a racist country because it wishes to be Jewish in character. Yet, Saudia Arabia et al can live in “peace” even when they will not allow any other religion in their midst except for Islam. Mr. Obama is an embarassment and so is Mr. Gates.

  • ORLY

    MR. OBAMA IS THE WORST AMERICAN PRESIDENT SINCE MR. CARNER, NOT ONLY WHERE ISRAEL IS CONCERNED. UNDER HIS ADMINISTRATION, THE WORLD HAS LOST ALL RESPECT FOR THE UNITED STATES AND ITS PRESIDENT, INCLUDING THE ARABS. NO ONE FEARS AMERICA, AND MR. ERDOGAN’S BEHAVIOR WHO DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMERICA AND ITS INTERESTS, HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THE RESULT OF THE U.S. POLICY. I DO HOPE THAT THE AMERICAN CITIZENS WILL CHOSE A BETTER PRESIDENT TO LEAD THEM IN THE NEXT ELECTIONS, MORE FOR THEIR SAKE THAN ISRAELS.

  • Chaim F

    Israel’s actions indicate a lack of self-regard and therefore elicit pressure from leaders like Obama who see, as well, the uncompromising commitment of the Arabs to their (false) claims to the land of Israel. IF Israel were to show an appropriate self-respect in turn the world would stop pressuring it and perhaps even side with it.

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