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February 22, 2015 3:10 pm

Obama’s ‘Assurances’ Won’t Protect Israel

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

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President Barack Obama is under fire for failing to mention antisemitism when describing the Paris kosher supermarket attack during his interview with Vox magazine. Photo: White House.

Israel should accept a “nuclear guarantee” from the Obama Administration and stop worrying about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, says longtime State Department peace processor Martin Indyk.

What a coincidence! Just last November Indyk’s former right-hand man, David Makovsky, proposed the exact same thing.

Do we detect a trial balloon?

In a speech in Tel Aviv on February 16, Indyk said the U.S. promised to intervene if Iran crossed the “nuclear threshold,” and that promise should suffice to ease Israel’s concerns. In other words, Israel should entrust its future to a piece of paper signed by a president who has been, arguably, the most unfriendly president towards Israel in American history.

In November, something similar was proposed by David Makovsky, who served Indyk as his senior assistant when Indyk was the top U.S. Mideast envoy this past year. Makovsky and Indyk spent many months pressuring Israel to make one-sided concessions, criticizing Israel’s leaders in choreographed leaks to the media, and ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s incitement to violence. After the PA finally blew up the negotiations, Indyk resigned , while publicly blaming Israel for the breakdown, and Makovsky returned to his old home, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Writing on the Washington Institute web site, Makovsky expressed concern about Israel’s opposition to an Obama deal on Iran. Therefore, he wrote, “It is imperative” that the Obama administration provide “a U.S. letter of assurance to Israel on key issues that cannot be addressed in the text of nuclear deal with Iran itself.”

But in view of the sorry record of previous American “assurances,” Israelis would have to be pretty naive to accept yet more short-lived “assurances” now.

Remember President George W. Bush’s letter to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on April 14, 2004? Bush wanted Sharon to unilaterally withdraw all Israeli soldiers and civilians from Gaza. So he gave Sharon a letter in which he “reassured” Israel that the U.S. believes Israel should retain “existing major Israeli population centers” in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank).

But when Obama’s new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was asked in June 2009 about those U.S. assurances, she declared that “there never was any agreement” between the U.S. and Israel concerning those Israeli population centers in the territories. Israel’s publication of the Bush letter (which can be viewed to this day on the website of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs) made no difference. In the view of the Obama Administration, the Bush assurance is not worth the paper on which it was printed.

The history of U.S.-Israel relations is replete with similar episodes.

After Israel captured the Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the 1956 war, the Eisenhower administration demanded that Israel give Sinai back to Nasser. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles provided the Israeli government with a letter, dated February 11, 1957, promising that if Israel retreated, the U.S. would “use its best efforts” to ensure that Israeli ships would be able to continue going through the Straits of Tiran. Based on that assurance, Israel withdrew.

In May 1967, Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran in preparation for a war to annihilate the Jewish state. Israeli ambassador Abba Eban rushed to meet with President Lyndon Johnson. Eban cited the 1957 Dulles letter. Johnson refused to intervene. War followed.

From 1968 to 1970, Egypt regularly fired missiles at Israel, across the Suez Canal, which was the border. Naturally the Israelis shot back. The Nixon administration wanted Israel to agree to a cease-fire that would leave Egypt’s SAM-2 and SAM-3 surface-to-air missiles in place. So the administration gave Israel “assurances” that “the U.S. would use all its influence” to ensure that Egypt’s missiles would stay twenty miles from the Suez Canal. The deal was signed on August 7, 1970.

Within days, the Egyptians started moving up the missiles. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird said the U.S. would “study” Israel’s complaints. The “study” concluded that Egypt had indeed moved the missiles, but it didn’t count as a violation of the agreement because the process of moving them had already begun before the agreement, so Egypt had just “missed the deadline.” The administration said it would not act so long as the overall “military balance” between Israel and Egypt was not affected.

But it WAS affected. With the Egyptian missiles close to the Suez Canal, they were able to wreak havoc on Israeli forces in the opening days of the 1973 war. By then, however, the “assurances” of 1970 were long forgotten.

Now Indyk and Makovsky are conjuring up a kind of Groundhog Day for Israel, where the same mistakes are repeated again and again. If this had been just Indyk, or just Makovsky, making the proposal, perhaps it could be dismissed as a passing suggestion. But the fact that they have both proposed it, within fewer than three months of each other, strongly suggests that this is what they, and their State Department colleagues, have been discussing. And now they are trying to shop it around. But the only buyers they will find will be those with very short memories.

Moshe Phillips is president and Benyamin Korn is chairman of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and both are candidates on the Religious Zionist slate ( in the World Zionist Congress elections.

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  • Afonso

    Let’s change the game. Israel is the one that will start giving out Letter of Assurances to help the US and Europe re terror incidents in their cities.Will they play ?

  • Reform School

    Fool me once, “Shame on you!” “Twice, Shame on me!” 3rd time, “Are you kidding?” 4th time, “Go to Hell!”

  • maurice4 Medoff

    of the ilk of Russ Limbaugh..
    Quite the contrary his truth is as lucid and well reasoned as any if not more so.


    Maurice mEDOFF

  • Barton Fink

    How is it the responsibility of the United States to defend a country that so boldly and brazenly is not an actual ally of the United States? The nation of Israel has allied itself with one of America’s political parties and has engaged in political activity against the Democratic party. This has consequences, and no rational observer can expect Americans who are not members of the Republican party to lay down lives and cash to protect a nation at war with America’s elected leadership.

    • Gerald C. Grosslicht

      This guy, Fink, is totally out of his mind!

    • Larry


    • Roz Shorenstein

      Support for our ally, Israel, has for many years been bipartisan. President Harry Truman, a Democrat, was a crucial supporter of the birth of Israel as a new nation state. The wedge between Israel and the Democrats is solely the fault of President Obama; he has been the most divisive President of all time in trying to cozy up to the Moslem world and pretend that Islamists are just some misguided people in need of a liberal education while vilifying and insulting Israel. I am usually a liberal Democrat, but the behavior of the Obama Presidency and the State Department have driven me away.

    • Ian Schorr

      If Barton Fink was, as the next commentator states, “totally out of his mind,” it would be easy, as no one would read his screed. But we don’t know that and it is dangerous not to answer his points because some other like-minded person who also missed their medication may believe Fink’s drivel.
      1- Israel “is not an actual ally of the United States?” Check the voting records in any international body, Mr. Fink, unless you are researching the files of Al-Jazeera.
      2- Israel, the country, has never “allied itself with one of America’s political parties” to the exclusion of another. It will try to influence any party that may have power to prevent its anihilation. Currently, in fact, the strongest voice against our current administration’s policy vis-a-vis Iran (if you indeed call it a policy) is none other than Senator Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat!! He is not a member of the Republican Party and is willing “to lay down lives and cash” to protect Israel because he knows it is not at war with America’s elected leadership.”
      3- If you can, Mr. Fink, remove your head from the position that your proctologist can see it, you will be able to read varies promises of Iranian leadership about their plan to eliminate Satan #2 (Israel) and then go on to Satan#1(USA).
      4- Finally, Mr. Fink, after you take your medication (….double the dose), you may remember that the problem with our country, and ALL polls show this (except, of course the one you must be reading in Al-Jazeera), is that we don’t have “leadership!”
      The famous Obama red line in the sand in Syria should have alerted you to that but if you forgot it, look at ISIS, ISIL, IRAQ, LYBIA, BOKO HARAM, TURKEY, IRAN, Al-QUEDA, TALIBAN, CROATIA, UKRAINE, BOSTON, CAMP HOOD, (the duration of action of your medication limits the list of places in the world that are in turmoil EXACTLY because we don’t have leadership, so now is a good time to end.
      BTW, I hope Obamacare provides you with the help you need, unless, of course, your “leadership” also lied to you asbout the doctor you could keep.

  • Yale

    1. Obama’s word to the American people means nothing to him — remember “you can keep your doctor”?, so why should his word to Israel mean anything more?

    2. If Obama hadn’t put so much effort into convincing Israelis that they cannot trust him, this idea would have a better chance of success. This is a president who doesn’t seem to realize that words have consequences and that what he has done has consequences for what he wants to do.

  • hmp49

    LOL, US withholds conventional arms from Israel when Israel is under attack, and Israel should rely on “guarantees” from the US?

  • Larry Andrews

    The fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran wants nuclear weapons is NOT just an issue for Israel. EVERY Sunni Arab country opposes the deal being proposed by the Obama administration. And, this needs to be publicized.
    This isn’t about Israel per se. This is about EVERY country in the Middle East, and that a nuclear armed
    Islamic Republic of Iran would have absolutely disastrous
    consequences. Somehow, the focus is solely on Israel,
    and that is a HUGE mistake.

    • Gerald C. Grosslicht

      What else is new?

  • Arlene

    Lucy and the football but with one major difference. Israel isn’t Charlie Brown!


    • Gerald C. Grosslicht

      Amen to that.


    Let’s not forget that Indyk’s salary at the Brookings Institute is funded by Qatar. So much for his integrity. And our President is meeting with the leader of Qatar. I read that the President is building a costly house in Palm Desert. He will be a very wealthy man when he leaves the White House.

    • Gerald C. Grosslicht

      Nothing surprises me about this president!

  • This is one of the great achievements of this administration: to have ruined the reputation of the United States to the point where no one will trust us, Israel least of all. However, what Obama does not seem to realize is that the Jihadists hate Americans almost as much as they hate Jews; so that American targets are not off limits for these monsters. Appeasement of Muslims will not work. Appeasement has never worked, with Arabs least of all. They have proven time after time that the only thing they respect is FORCE. I am not necessarily advocating that the U.S. ought to be the policeman of the world – that is perhaps too big a job even for the only superpower. What I AM SAYING is: DO NOT DRAW LINES IN THE SAND IF YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO FOLLOW THROUGH. Like when Bashar Al-Assad used gas on his own people.

  • al sheeber

    Those who remember the empty promises given to P.M Ben Gurion, 1956, by President Eisenhower, know that no American promise, in writing, verbal, or secret is worth a damn! Those who wore the IDF uniform in 1967, know that they had to go to war because the USA did not honor its promises, the same way it abandoned its obligations to the Ukraine, (Budapest Treaty 1994, its numerous uncalled for gross violations of the political will of some 60 countries during the last 115 years, from Panama, Iran, Viet-Nam, Cambodia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba, Israel(3 times in 25 years), Italy, Greece, etc…If the Israeli public votes for Labor (Obama), they get a nuclear Iran, and Israel’s demise. The weak and morose president Johnson typified the low point of how a promise turns into a worthless overture, in May 1967, the world could see how U.S power was at its lowest point, with hundreds of body bags returning every week, and when Jerusalem called about that promise (guarantee to keep the Aqaba straits open for retreat from Sinai), the defeated president asked if a Dutch corsair will do? So, no country should make plans for its future based on the word of a U.S president.

  • Ignoring america israel, Nigeria, kenya and other like minded countries should join together to capture the african islamists, palestinian islamists etc and put them into concentration camps to extract hard labour. The united nations could not speak human rights to north korea. hence they cannot speak to us also

  • Ron

    Obama couldn’t be bothered to rescue his own ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, then lied about the whole event, claiming it was a “spontaneous” demonstration – which included heavy mortars! – over a video that had had only 17 views at the time of the attack. Why on earth should he or any of his administration be believed that they have Israel’s back? A comment recently made about Obama by a knowledgeable commentator puts it in a nutshell, “his enemies don’t fear him and his allies don’t trust him!”

  • steven L

    IL has no need for antisemites like Indyk.

  • RobiMac

    Neither will they protect America!

  • It is laughable to suggest that Israel should trust Obama.

    Obama not only detests Israel (not just Netanyahu) but he has demonstrated that he is a pathological liar. Just look at the evidence:

    1) In an interview after the 2008 election, the Reverend Wright (yes, he of God Damn America infamy) told an interviewer that Obama had said to him during the 2008 campaign when his relationship with Wright was revealed, “You know what your problem is, Reverend?” Wright related that he replied, “No, what is my problem?” Obama sneered “You have to tell the truth.”

    2) Obama repeatedly told the American public during the 2012 re-election campaign that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor (under Obamacare)” and “If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance”. Those lies helped get him re-elected. Documents revealed that the White House campaign debated whether to tell the American public the truth and decided that Obama should instead lie.

    3) The Syria Red Line. No explanation needed.

    4) Obama’s 2012 campaign assurance to Jewish voters that he had Israel’s “back”. Yet during the 2014 Gaza War, Obama refused timely release of munitions to Israel despite a prior agreement.

    5) In 1994 the USA signed an agreement with Ukraine that in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal, the US and UK would guarantee Ukraine’s security. No explanation needed.

    Space limitations preclude me from listing more.

    I just hope that Bibi doesn’t have a heart attack from bending over in laughter when the Obama administration suggests that they will give him a letter guaranteeing their security against an Iranian bomb.

  • tovlogos

    I”Israel should accept a “nuclear guarantee” from the Obama Administration and stop worrying about Iran’s nuclear capabilities…”

    The Yehudim have become very head-shy after the brutality they have endured for so long, to fall for a blatant trap like this one.

    • Raphael Bendjouia

      I wouldn’t trust Obama administration
      To take care of my dog…. !!! BiBI is doing the right thing
      Obamas team will be remember as selling the U.S. And the world to the Muslim

  • More on the ups and downs of the US-Israel relationship in Abba Eban’s autobiography, now available as an eBook:

  • Sorry, Israel is not naive, and we don`t trust not Obama, and less the Lindik.

  • Samuel J. Savitz

    This position lends a modicum of support for Netanyahu’s insistence on appearing before a joint session of Congress, thereby securing more than a letter of “best effort” from the Executive Office. Presumably, pledges made to Israel regarding any breach by Iran of any agreement relating to a halt of its nuclear program would be embodied in a joint resolution of the House and Senate, thus offering a more security to Israel than a letter from the Secretary of State “promising” U.S. action.
    Bala Cynwyd, PA

  • MartyNYC

    Shortly after Obama took his oath of office he secretly gave
    Israel 90 bunker buster bombs that Israel’s requested of George W. Bush two years earlier. This info was thanks to
    Chelsea Manning’s leak to Wikileaks. Obama had also in 2009 secretly gave Israel our complete unfiltered NSA surveillance database, except for the administrations own cables. This info was thanks to Snowden.
    Of course Obama had shown he could tough on Netanyahu as when he would say “that’s not helpful” every time Israel announced another thousand or so new units in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. He also defied the will of the entire UN. save the Marshal Islands, to defend Israel’s questionable conduct in the UN.
    When he balked at a war with Iran after the Bush Neocon/Israeli Iraq war disaster Netanyahu ran to the

    Security c

  • Ray A. Cohn

    I am a Sabra — born in Tel Aviv in October of 1945 to German Jews (or Yekes as all too many Jews of other ethnic backgrounds like to deride us), immigrated to the USA with my parents in November of 1957 and became a naturalized citizen in 1964. Throughout my life I have been a political junkie, I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Florida and specialized in political, government, education reporting with a lot of emphasis on investigative reporting. Also I am very pro Israel, still have Mishpuche over their in three FIRST COUSINS, one female and two male. The piece raises valid concerns, but leaves a big gap and one hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves open and really never addresses because he know the American public does not want to hear. What Netanyahu and his Republican allies in Congress don’t tell us is what solution they have. Unlike Iraq, where the Israeli Air Force knocked out the lone Iraqi nuclear facity, the Iranians have developed an underground system that air strikes will not be sufficient to do the job. So what good is tough talk and bluffing. The Iranians know to eliminate Iranian nuclear threat completely we would need Iran. Are the American people willing for another Middle Eas. Let’s not forget it was Netanyahu’s allies — especially prominent Jews,, including his unofficial advisers working under the Dick Cheney — really his government in exile during the Democratic Bill Clinton. These people later as officials in the George W. Bush administration played a key role to get us into the Iraq War. That war resulted in a most pro Shiite regime next door to the Shiite terrorist organization. So before we go wild again l

  • Ly

    Let’s not forget who the President is?

    A senator w/ little or no experience.
    A black, Muslim, and or Arab who
    Says he loves America, and never says it.
    And man who says he respects Israel and l she has to deal w/.

    Had it been Israel who carried out the air strikes as retaliatory action for the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Christians American and the world would be all over Israels disregard for human life and collateral damage she has caused.
    The presidents leadership has been shameful, disrespectful, and rudderless.

    Wonder why The US, and American, Jewery and Israels support is on the precipice of collapse
    Look no further than the White House and it’s foreign policy stand.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    Imagine Israel leaving her security to the quicksilver spine of the dopey Obama. There is the man who made red lines int he sand in Syria and when push came to shove it was Putin who bailed Obama’s sorry ass out of the fire. His red line suddenly became white – that is white with cowardice.

    Obama is untrustworthy, unbelievable and a liar to boot.

  • Fred

    Oh , what devious threads Indyk weaves, so he can the at best deceive. That man does not give up to lead Israel to the precipice . How treacherous a duo Indyk & Obama.

  • tom tuey

    You can trust the US Govt…….just ask any “real”
    Native American….if this of which the article
    speaks were not so pathetic it would be truly
    laughable……maybe we could get Israel to buy
    all of our nuclear waste? Who does our Govt.
    think that they are dealing with?…children?
    Oh, I can’t believe that this is truth….or maybe
    I am just late to hear this ….incredible…how much
    longer can we afford this embarrassing Govt?.


    you UNGRATEFUL GREEDY IDIOTS. Don’t you know these articles are making it even more difficult for Jews around the world. The US taxpayers have given you BiLLIONS, at the expense of our people…but its NEVER enough for you. IRAN DOESNT HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS…SO SAYS 16 US INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES…SO THE CRAZED ZIONIST BIBI INSISTS…TO KEEP YOU ALL IN FEAR…HE IS A LIAR AND A CROOK MAKING LIFE MORE DIFFICULT FOR JEWS WORLDWIDE…SKIP THE SPEECH.

    • Gerald C. Grosslicht

      You should take a sabbatical, live in Israel for a year, and stay as close as possible to the Gaza border. Then tell the world how greedy and crazed the Zionists are.

  • art

    Obama and co have “leaked” info on Israels’ nuclear programs, Patriot and Arrow missile sites, the information shared with the CIA and covet operations, including assassinations. In addition the US consulate in Jerusalem has repeatedly violated agreed upon rules of behavior. At best Obama has treated Israel as a despised vassal state that beyond individual affronts to Israeli leaders. Obama has proven beyond any doubt that he can NOT be trusted

  • Gerry Henderson

    It sounds to me to be similar to a friend to whom I loaned a significant sum of money, with an oral promise to repay it five years later. It is now 12 years later, I have not seen a cent of it and I have lost my friend. Recently, I was asked by another friend for a loan of a significant sum of money. I said I could not. And it seems I lost another friend. What have I learned? Promises are not worth the air they are spoken to – relationships can be altered at a moments notice and get all agreements in writing!

  • hadassa

    Indyk is not just his name – it’s what he is: a real TURKEY! Among other things…

    • Irene Rogers

      After Hitler’s surprise you can not believe anybody that says openly they want to destroy Israel. Indyk, Makowsky and Obama
      or simply anti-semites or naive. I am curious when they meet Iran
      representative do they mention the treat on Israel or they say it is just for fun. We only believed one time to Hitler Never Again. I rather live with paranoia than believe the brutal regime.

    • Irene Rogers

      After Hitler’s surprise you can not believe anybody that says openly they want to destroy Israel. Indyk, Makowsky and Obama
      naive. I am curious when they meet Iran
      representative do they mention the treat on Israel or they say it is just for fun. We only believed one time to Hitler Never Again. I rather live with paranoia than believe the brutal regime.

      • Irene Rogers

        After Hitler’s surprise you can not believe anybody that says openly they want to destroy Israel. Indyk, Makowsky and Obama naive. I am curious when they meet Iran
        representative do they mention the treat on Israel or they say it is just for fun. We only believed one time to Hitler Never Again. I rather live with paranoia than believe the brutal regime.

  • The U.S. gov’t is sick and many U.S. citizens are blind as to what is happening especially concerning Israel. When Israel starts to look up more strongly, then I believe that Elohim will avenge Israel and defeat its enemies.