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November 1, 2012 6:51 pm

For Israel, a Second Term From Hell

avatar by Dovid Efune

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President Obama during the debate. Photo: Screenshot.

Within days, Hurricane Sandy and all its devastation will be featured less prominently on front page headlines, to be replaced by a rapid countdown to next week’s Presidential election.

There is no consensus over who is slated to win. Even reliable polls are largely out of sync with each other. Unexpected events and the three debates have never failed to bring continued new elements to the table.

For the President, the hurricane was a political blessing, as Americans tend to unite around their sitting leaders during times of crisis. More importantly, the graphic imagery of wholesale devastation has forced the emerging and ever evolving debacle, over the Administration’s handling of the September 11th terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, from national focus.

For many around the world, there has been continued concern over President Obama’s attitude towards Israel, which at times has been overtly hostile. Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit described it thusly in an interview on Israeli TV last year; “The rage that Barack Obama expresses towards Binyamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel is a raging fury.”

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I have no doubt that Shavit is right when he says that “If Barack Obama is elected…There will immediately be a very strong attack and Israel will find itself in a very sharp crisis. Because right now…Obama is…like a lion in a cage.”

To estimate the steps that Obama might take toward Israel, with his last election behind him, his intent must be judged based on his past actions and sentiments expressed. The President has been clear about his opinion on a number of matters relating to Israel, and his current muted stance on the eve of Election Day, surely has no post-election staying power.

  1. Obama believes that Israel is engaged in an illegal occupation, and that building anywhere beyond the 1948 armistice line is against international law.
  2. He believes that the claims of Palestinian Arabs against Israel are generally legitimate.
  3. He believes that the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state is necessary and important.
  4. He believes that the term pro-Israel can be applied in a prescriptive fashion. What Israelis think is in their interests is not necessarily pro-Israel.
  5. Obama believes that the pro-Israel community can be bought off by sending financial aid to Israel.
  6. Obama believes in the power of public opinion and words, “daylight,” to steer public sentiment in favor of his policies.

When it comes to unrestricted sitting duck policy, these ideals can find damaging manifestation in a number of areas. For example, in a second term, Obama is likely to further the cause of Israel’s delegitimizers like none other before him, by aggressively and publicly slamming any and all construction outside of pre-1967 Israel. It is unlikely that he would condemn anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations and I believe that he will not veto Palestinian Arab attempts at the UN towards a unilateral declaration of statehood.

On the whole, since 1974, once coming to the understanding that Israel could not easily be vanquished militarily; the Jewish state’s enemies have waged a war of accusation, seeking to isolate and diplomatically weaken the country to the extent that it is forced to significantly compromise its security.

A second Obama term would go a long way in furthering that agenda.

But in truth, the extent to which the sitting US President can impact affairs on the ground in Israel will be seen on January 22nd, when Israelis go to the polls. Israelis view the state of the US-Israel relationship as vitally important, and typically Prime Ministers who are viewed as having jeopardized that relationship have difficulty staying in power.

If President Obama is re-elected, and Israeli voters veer leftward, Zionism will fall into regression.

If however, the new Lieberman-Netanyahu coalition marks significant gains, and especially if winning a Knesset majority, the country will enter a troublesome adolescent stage in its relationship with the US. Perhaps Israel the adult will emerge and embark on an independent new path.

If Mitt Romney wins, and Israel’s left is voted into power, we will see a repeat of the Olmert-Bush years, where Israel makes grand offers and gestures to the PA, only to face rebuff after rebuff.

If a sweep of Israel’s nationalist parties follows a Romney victory, the tide of Israel deligitimization will be stunted, and Israeli leaders will focus on building long-term security solutions for their citizens.

The author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed atdefune@gjcf.com.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Leah

    And my immediate reaction to the Bloomberg endorsement was also that he had been bribed!

  • Leah

    I agree with most of what Dovid Efune has written. I hope the Algemeiner will ignore the few disgruntled people who do not understand the tragedy Obama has been for our people. First good article I’ve read here in awhile! Yashar koach!

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    If Elizabeth Warren loses to Scott Brown, Obama will fire Hillary Clinton and appoint John Kerry, vacating his senate seat to allow Deval Patrick to appoint Elizabeth Warren that seat. John Kerry as Sec State will be an even bigger disaster than the Hermes Scarf Hijab Wearing Moron we have now.

  • PIM MEIBOSCH

    THERE IS HOPEFULLY A PRICE TO PAY FOR A FOREIGN STATESMAN
    MEDDLING IN AMERICAN ELECTIONS.

    OBAMA ALREADY SIGNED FOR THE FUTURE PAYMENTS TO ISRAEL.

    NOISES BEFORE THE EVENT ARE PREDICTIONS,
    AFTER THE EVENT THEY ARE JUST NOISES.

  • Sabra C

    David Ofune “tells it like it is” and, as always, he speaks the TRUTH! Obama supports all those who oppose Israel, revealing that he an enemy of Israel! I will continue to stand with the nation of Israel and all Jews around the world. Above all, I stand for the TRUTH OF THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL! Also, what Obama does or doesn’t do is of no matter to God!

  • Finally read your paper – I’ve been tolerating it in my in-box, didn’t want to discourage you folks – and I can’t tell you how much I dislike your horrible anti-President Obama agit-prop. Awful stuff. I’m gone. Will try to unsub now. Wish you hadn’t make it impossible for me to keep taking you. Shabbat shalom.

  • Samuel A. Abady

    Jews who care about Israel are faced with a difficult choice this election. Obama’s feckless outreach to Muslim nations, missteps during the Persian and Arab Spring, and hostility to Bibi Netanyahu have soured many Israelis and American Jews on the President.

    Unfortunately, there is little to embrace regarding Romney’s Middle East policy, if he has one. His VMI speech, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/10/08/text-of-romney-speech-on-foreign-policy-at-vmi/ was full of platitudes and conspicuous for its lack of specifics. That has been Romney’s modus operandi throughout the campaign.

    Nine years ago, George W. Bush predicted Iraq would be “an example of freedom’s power throughout the Middle East.”
    http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2003/October/20031011121533attocnich0.7477075.html#ixzz28j3YA7zG. A number of Israeli pundits said, in sum and substance, “don’t count on it.” Bush thought democracy was solely about elections, not culture.

    Romney offers similar, ethereal nostrums with his pronouncement that the Middle East represents “a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair” and his goal to foster democracy in Egypt. He persists in the fantasy that there will be “a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security” with Israel.

    Although he mentions “terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology,” like Obama, he ignores the elephant in the living room and failed to call Islamism/Islamo-fascism by name.

    The only useful measure is not Obama compared to perfection, but Obama compared to past presidents. That perspective likely explains Ehud Barak’s recent declaration that the U.S.-Israel relationship (at least, as measured by the IDF-Pentagon relationship) is stronger today than at any time in history.

    We forget that:

    – Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger threatened to “reassess” America’s relationship with Israel. In contrast, Obama publically declared that America’s bond with Israel is “unbreakable.”

    – Ronald Reagan suspended arms shipments to Israel and supported the UN resolution condemning Israel because it destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor outside Baghdad – something George Shultz declared, in retrospect, was a blessing.

    – On Condi Rice’s incompetent advice, George W. Bush pressured Israel to allow Hamas to participate in Gaza elections. While Obama has cautiously embraced the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, he has not negotiated with Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    – The only UN veto of Obama’s administration was cast against the one-sided anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution on settlements.

    – Obama opposed the Goldstone Report.

    – Obama stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla.

    – Obama boycotted the racist Durban II and Durban III “anti-racism” conferences.

    -Obama successfully derailed Palestinian attempts to unilaterally declare statehood at the UN.

    -Despite Obama’s conflict with Bibi, when the chips were down and Netanyahu asked for help fighting the Carmel forest fires, Obama’s response was “get Israel whatever it needs. Now.”

    – In September 2011, when a late-night call came from Israel asking for help rescuing Israelis staffers trapped in the Egyptian embassy, Obama said “I will do everything I can” and did. Later, Bibi called it a “decisive and fateful moment.”

    – George W. Bush did little to stop Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons, while Obama has mobilized the international community to impose the toughest economic sanctions ever against Iran. Although his sanctions policy has not deterred Iran which will be able to build a bomb soon, the rial is tanking and Iranians are blaming Ahmadinejad. If sanctions foment regime change in Tehran, then Obama will have accomplished something important indeed. Regrettably, while Obama has not drawn a red line in the sand, he has repeatedly declared Iran will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons, and that rhetoric has real value. In 8-10 months, Israel will be able to launch a military operation against the Iranian regime alone. Obama’s statements create political cover for an Israeli military strike even if, at the end of the day, he will not commit U.S. forces to assist Israel, something he may yet do.

    True, Obama has not visited Israel to “put daylight” between the U.S. and Israel in order to appease the Arabs, but this is atmospherics. Jimmy Carter visited Israel during his term in office and it is hard to imagine a more pernicious critic of Israel today. George W. Bush did not visit Israel until his seventh year as president. Ronald Reagan never visited Israel during his lifetime. Obama went there as recently as 2006 and 2008, and pointedly went to Sderot when rockets from Gaza were raining down on a daily basis.

    Although the Obama administration criticized Israel’s settlement policy, it acted no different than every administration since the 70s. Unlike George H.W. Bush, however, Obama never threatened to withhold U.S. aid because of settlement activity. Under Obama, foreign aid to Israel has reached record levels. (It is worth noting that many Israeli policy thinkers believe Israel should no longer accept U.S. aid for various reasons.)

    In sum, Obama’s pro-Israel record compares favorably with any Republican president. It is the record of a friend willing to support Israel openly and behind the scenes.

    Can we say from Romney’s statements that he’d do better, or do anything different?

    • Correction for Samuel Abady: In the Third Presidential Debate on foreign policy, Governor Romney did indeed explicitly refer to “Islamic” terrorism. By contrast, President Obama — by his own admission — runs a philo-Muslim foreign policy that explicitly reaches out to “the Muslim World.” This was reflected in President Obama’s mendacious response to the recent Benghazi consulate attack and earlier in his June 4, 2009 Cairo Speech. For thorough line-by-line Israel analysis of Obama’s Cairo speech, see a November 2009 posting at http://www.allenzhertz.com Any Jew who can cast a vote for Obama after properly understanding the Cairo speech needs to check his DNA to see whether he is truly a child of his parents. I agree with David Efune.

      • Sonia

        Well-said Mr Hertz

      • Samuel A. Abady

        My DNA may be flawed, but not due to an analytical, bloody-minded understanding of Obama v. Romney on Israel and the Middle East.

        I agree with many points (although not all) in Dr. Hertz’s thoughtful deconstruction of Obama’s Cairo speech. There is no doubt Obama’s Middle East experiment adumbrated by that speech has been a failure.

        Defenders point to its noble intentions, but the road to hell is paved with such intentions. What the people of the Muslim world needed was not a president who pandered to their prejudices and primitive beliefs, but one willing to unflinchingly demand they grow up, confront their flawed values, state out loud those values stifle their societies and retard their development, and are the root cause of Middle East conflict.

        Ironically, while Obama promised those assembled that American leaders would say in public what they whisper to each other in private, notably, Obama’s policy has been diametrically the opposite. Many among the political eschelon understand that Nazi ideology successfully penetrated Arab culture which is suffused with religiously-inspired Jew-hatred; the so-called “Arab-Israeli conflict” is an Arab war against the Jews; Israel is not a threat to its neighbors, its neighbors are a threat to Israel; etc.

        Yet, for misplaced reasons of statecraft, Obama carefully tiptoed around Islamism rhetorically while he ramped up to unprecedented use of drones to destroy Islamist leaders and assets in the field.

        Speculation about a president’s personal beliefs as a basis to predict political actions is a perilous business. Freed from the need to court Jewish votes in a second term, will Obama demonstrate increased hostility to Israel because of his early Muslim upbringing, friendship with Jeremiah Wright, and work as a Chicago community organizer, or show increased warmth to Israel because many of his early political patrons, law professors, and close political advisors are Jews?

        Such speculation simply is not useful. It presupposes a chimeric nexus between seniment and political action. In private, Richard Nixon expressed crude anti-Semitic sentiments that Obama undoubtedly never has expressed. Yet, Nixon ordered Operation Nickelgrass to resupply Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Why? Because he was not willing to see an American ally fall, and witness Foxbats (Soviet MiGs) dominate the Jerusalem skyline.

        George W. Bush expressed clear, pro-Israel sentiments. Yet, his misguided insistence that Iraq remain a unitary state empowered Israel’s deadliest adversary, Iran.

        Obama is not an ideologue, but instead, an adaptable pragmatist. Indeed, that fact is what alientated Obama’s erstwhile supporters on the left found at Truthdig, Counterpunch, the Nation and similar media. For example, Obama knows that, having extended an open hand, not a clenched fist, to the Iranians, they bit it.

        In sum, we must analyze Obama’s Middle East policies not by speculation about his childhood experiences, syncretic identity, etc., but instead, politically. We best predict the future by reference to precedent, i.e., by Obama’s past actions listed in my original post. From precedent, there is every reason to believe Obama would not counternance an attack on Israel or permit it to become imperiled militarily. Many in Israel’s defense and security establishment agree.

        Nothing in Mitt Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts governor tells us anything about what his Middle East policy will look like. Unfortunately, nothing about his campaign rhetoric tells us anything meaningful about it, either.

        • Reply to Samuel A. Abady: Sincere thanks for your interesting and intelligent comments not only on my remarks here, but also on my 2009 analysis of President Obama’s June 4, 2009 Cairo speech. Given that President Obama has just been re-elected, I earnestly pray that you are 100% correct and that I am 100% wrong.

    • Sam! Bless you. Imagine running into you again here! Le’hit, Counselor. Shabbat shalom.

    • Wendy

      Well said Mr. Abady!!!

  • Martin Stempel

    I agree with much – but not all – of what Polly T. has written. What kind of “Zionism” let alone what kind of “Judaism” will “fall into regression” after an Obama reelection and “Israeli voters veer leftward” ? Perhaps its the kind of “Zionism” that our enemies use to say they’re not “anti-semitic” but “anti-Zionist” and to make Israel a pariah rather than a model of democracy and international brotherhood. I would find Netanyahu’s drawing of a bomb pathetic if I didn’t think his effort to draw the US into a disastrous war were not so offensive. And as for Mr. Romney, I remember his real thoughts expressed at the exclusive fundraiser last spring … to wash his hands of insoluble middle eastern problems and just “kick the can down the road”! I am a serious American Jew who loves Israel and has visited many times but I remain appalled by the actions and statements of Messrs Netanyahu and Lieberman and those who see nothing inherently wrong with the continued administration of the West Bank. I worry about the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiments around the world and its as if Mr. Netanyahu doesn’t see it or doesn’t care. I can understand that there are American Jews may find Romney attractive but not because of his policies toward Israel and toward the despised 47% – whatever those policies are in today’s etch a sketch!

  • Polly T.

    You are horrible and disgusting, Mr. Efune. Have you no shame? Political differences are one thing, but your insidious lies and insults to President Obama are outrageous.You probably are not even a citizen. Go back to England! Or back to South Africa! Move to Israel! But you do not deserve the rights and privileges of living in the United States of America. Take your racist hate and be gone!

    • Sonia

      Mr Efune and Mr Abady express different but well-informed perspectives POLITELY leaving the reader to modify their opinion advisedly. Surely your rudeness online is out of place! Who wins the USA elections is certainly of consequence to readers around the world who care about the state of Israel. Citizens of the world and of Israel will be deeply affected. I found both Efune’s and Abady’s information helpful.

    • Avigayil

      Hi Polly,
      I read the article twice and failed to see any mention about anyone’s race or ethnicity.
      Why are you calling the author a racist?
      Is it easier to call someone names when you can’t refute their arguments?

  • Fortune

    You hope Sandy and the better job and economic reports will not skew the election.

    Obama has already made politicized global warming, etc.

    And today the NYC Mayor endorsed Obama.

    What kind of bribery was that? Doesn’t Bloomberg trust FEMA or Governor Cuomo?

    Most people I know wouldn’t listen to Bloomberg anyway.

    We live in troubled times and our future here in the U.S.A. is in Hashem’s hands.

    PLEASE, DO NOT FORGET TO VOTE!!!

    Even without your I.D. you can still vote.

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