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March 26, 2015 10:35 am

Phony Obama-Netanyahu Conflict Diverts Attention From Real Issues

avatar by Abraham H. Miller / JNS.org

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President Obama has been looking for a long time now some excuse to create conflict between his administration and Benjamin Netanyahu's, Abraham Miller argues. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Until the Obama administration decided to shift its support away from Israel because of a rather torturous interpretation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, it seemed absurd that a major policy decision against an ally would ever turn on the hyperbole of a political campaign.

Even after Netanyahu clarified his remarks, the administration is persisting in its reassessment of policy not toward Netanyahu, but toward the Jewish state.

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Contrast this with the administration’s behavior toward Palestinian leaders who routinely advocate genocide, call Jews the descendants of apes and pigs, incite violence against innocents, name parks and schools after mass murderers, and openly allude to peace negotiations as strategic steps toward Israel’s elimination.

Yet the Obama administration has not found that any of this rises to the level to warrant a change in policy toward the Palestinians. American administrations have typically met Israel’s outrage against Palestinian incitement, provocation, and terrorism with cautious patronizing and the urging of restraint.

Days after Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian leader characterized the treaty by alluding to the Prophet Mohammed’s peace of Mecca. Arafat reminded his followers that Mohammed broke the agreement when he felt strong enough to take the city.

The American response was as typical then as it is now—Israel should not overreact to Palestinian hyperbole.

So, why is Palestinian terrorism and verbal evasion met with endless rationalization, while something as insignificant as Israeli campaign rhetoric results in harsh policy changes?

The explanation is quite simple. President Barack Obama has long been looking for an excuse to create daylight between his administration and Israel. The conflict with Netanyahu is not about Netanyahu; it is about the administration grabbing a fig leaf to justify a move toward the Palestinians.

An incision into Obama’s ideology would have easily predicted this outcome. He was reared in the American leftists’ understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict—one that flows from simplistic identity politics. As that narrative goes, Israelis are white-skinned, Western people (in reality they are largely Middle Eastern Jews) exploiting third-world, brown-skinned people.

Israel is characterized as the last vestige of British colonialism, even though Britain did not vote for the creation of Israel and actively supported the Arabs in the 1948 war. Consequently, the Jews have no right to be there, and it is their obligation alone to make concessions.

This fatuous narrative dominates Middle East teachings in higher education.

Obama’s friends not only believed this bad rendition of history, but some were also its major proponents. Obama has displayed a penchant for surrounding himself with Israel-bashers such as Rashid Khalidi, Palestine Liberation Organization spokesperson and university professor.

From various accounts, Obama made an incriminating, pro-Palestinian speech at a farewell dinner for Khalidi that celebrated his move from the University of Chicago to Columbia University. The Los Angeles Times has refused to make public a video of those remarks.

Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who openly advocated shooting down Israeli planes if they try to bomb Iran, is another trusted Obama foreign policy adviser. There is Samantha Power, Obama’s U.N. ambassador, who in a radio interview advocated using American troops to protect Palestinians from Israelis. And no such list would be complete without the inclusion of Robert Malley, an apologist for Arafat’s walking away from Camp David and a man whose father was one of Arafat’s advisers.

In his Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago, Obama associated with ultra-progressive Jews who believed that peace was more likely if Israel, not the Palestinians, were on the receiving end of condemnation. One of Obama’s Jewish neighbors and earliest supporters was Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf. In 1973, Wolf founded Breira, an organization of progressive Jews that was so pro-Palestinian that American Zionists harshly attacked it.

Netanyahu’s campaign statement that “now” is not a time for a two-state solution was evasive campaign rhetoric. This is no different than presidential candidate Obama calling for an undivided Jewish capital in Jerusalem, only to subsequently amend his statement to mean that Jerusalem should not be divided with barbed wire—a phony allusion to Jordan’s cutting the city in two from 1948-1967.

Netanyahu’s statement about responding to high Arab voter turnout was no different from Obama’s cronies lamenting that former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley’s urban renewal program was making the city white once again and threatening the black political base.

The Obama split with Netanyahu is less a split with Netanyahu than it is a divide with Israel wrought by Obama’s progressive view of the Jewish state. It was inevitable, as inevitable that the relationship between the American and Israeli people will not only survive, but get stronger after this Israel-bashing administration is gone.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.

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  • ted weiss

    Even after Netanyahu clarified his remarks, the administration is persisting in its reassessment of policy not toward Netanyahu, but toward the Jewish state.
    Obama want Netanyahoo out for the next 2 years this vengefull man will unleash and orchesrated spew of hate

  • Elisheva

    Obama’s hostility towards Israel is doomed to backfire on him. It is making some Congressmen more vocally pro-Israel and anti the UN.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2POx-fuuJCQ&ab_channel=USSenLindseyGraham

  • MO

    I DO hope that your statements in the last paragraph are a prophecy that will be proven true….and that there will still be an intact Israel to support…but with ISIS gaining strength every day and Yemen falling apart and Iran taking up territory under the auspices of fighting middle eastern organizations they deem to be worse than their own government, the end of this administration can’t come soon enough. For sure, Obama has changed the political landscape all over the world….which he pronounced he would do (and is doing) “by hook or by crook”. When he hasn’t been able to get his way through normal political channels, he just gathers together “like-minded” people to create new organizations outside of government that do his bidding…and worse…he shamefully uses an all too willing press to tout his agenda. We all need to restudy Germany during the years that Hitler came to power; and Obama’s followers have to wake up and stop being “snowed” by him.
    Thank you for your words…Shalom…

  • howard brown

    And maybe the Democratic party is now the permanent opponent of pro-Israel support in the US.

  • The Never Ending Story

    Already treaties and promises ad infinitum. And ,while the speaking and shaking hands, the attack continues upon Israel.
    The Olympic attack, and many others show the mind. Treaties are practice of common war tactic. When will we see the intent , and stop?
    The pathological behavior is not cured by acquiescence.

  • Unfortunatly ,Obama has almost two more years,to undermine ,poison and twist the political climat in the Midle East. I feel better ,knowing that there are, clever people out there ,like Professor Abraham H Miller,

  • Investigative article pursuing policy politics using personality contrasts as justification of US admin shifts. Not one mention of Arab land on the West Bank or Arab Israeli voters and their interests. Much better to point out the contradictions in US foreign policy in the ME. Israel is subject to a double standard but the reality is occupied Arab land.

  • Hussein

    Obama doesn’t run on ideology, he runs on a psychological pathology. He remains a child abandoned by his parents who cannot accept rejection on anything by anyone. Thus, when Israeli voters rejected him, he flew into a rage.

    The real question facing America first, and then Israel, is what steps are needed to deal with a president whose mental heath issues are beginning to break loose.

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