On Iran, Obama Isn’t the Problem
With the destabilizing influence of Iran spreading throughout the region and the meltdown of the post “Arab Spring” Middle East continuing unabated, many in Israel are disappointed with US President Barack Obama for backtracking on his former pledge to prevent Iran from going nuclear.
Similarly, after more than 20 years of the disastrous Oslo “peace process” and all the carnage and suffering that it brought, as well as in the face of a strengthening international campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel, many Israelis are perturbed by Obama’s continued insistence that Israel must work towards the fulfillment of the two-state solution.
Together these point to Obama’s unwavering belief that the source of all the instability in the region is not Arab/Islamic terror or Arab/Islamic hatred of Israel and the West, but rather previous western injustices that need to be rectified. In the case of Iran, this means the fostering of positive relations after years of America treating Iran like a pariah state while in the case of Israel this means the ending of its supposed unlawful occupation of Judea and Samaria in order to help bring to fruition the creation of yet another Arab state in the region.
As Caroline Glick astutely points out in “The Israeli Solution,” this American model for diplomacy in the Middle East is based upon the same faulty logic employed by the British years before them in that it essentially views the local Arabs/Muslims as objects that can be acted upon and pleased rather than acknowledging the fact that they possess their own strong beliefs and ideologies which guide their lives and which ultimately carry far greater significance than any goodwill gesture or gift that the western world wishes to bestow upon them.
Understood this way, Obama’s belief that a liberal approach of appeasement vis-à-vis Iran will somehow change Iran and curb its propensity for exporting Islamic terrorism is clearly naïve. The same can be said regarding his out of touch with reality assumption, a view that was also held by his two predecessors in the White House, that Arab belligerence against Israel would come to an end if Israel were to allow for the creation of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria.
Nevertheless and in spite of current American policy in the region, the tendency for many here in Israel to blame Obama for all the issues affecting and threatening the State of Israel is missing the point since Israel itself, and not Obama, is the real problem.
In other words, as the head of a truly sovereign nation, President Obama is doing what any sovereign leader does. Namely, he is implementing policies that he considers to be in the best interest of his country. Thus, even if many of us in Israel might believe that Obama’s behavior in the Middle East displays a total lack of understanding of the many intricacies of the region, it is nevertheless a bit unreasonable to expect him to pursue policies that we consider beneficial for the State of Israel if he deems them to be detrimental to America. From his perspective, America needs to do what is good for America regardless of how it affects Israel.
Hence, the constant blame being thrown at Obama for the many difficulties that Israel is currently facing is in reality a distraction from the fact that Israel itself is not functioning like a full-fledged sovereign state. Therefore, in order to rectify this very unhealthy situation the time has come for Israel to finally start behaving like a mature sovereign state.
To do this, Israel needs to first fully grasp the harsh lesson that no matter how much it tries to please the world in order to ensure its own well-being and long-term survival, such an approach simply does not work. The fact that the current de-legitimization campaign being directed at Israel follows years of Israel trying such a “please the world approach” – the signing of Oslo, handing over territory to the Arabs, removing the IDF from Lebanon, the Gaza disengagement, building freezes, releasing of terrorists and much more – should convince any skeptics in Israel of the foolishness and danger of continuing down the same path.
Following the internalization of this unfortunate bitter truth, Israel needs to then disentangle itself from American dependence by taking the initiative to start phasing out American military aid. Any serious cost-benefit analysis of the subject, as for example the one conducted by Gideon Israel in a policy paper for The Jewish Statesmanship Center, entitled “US Foreign Aid to Israel: A Reassessment,” clearly shows that Israel would be better off without the aid and all the strings that are attached to it.
Only by liberating itself from both the conceptual shackle of constantly trying to please a frequently hostile and hypocritical world in the vain hope of receiving something positive in return and from the diplomatic shackle of having to always conform to the foreign policy demands of America even when such demands are not in Israel’s best interest, can Israel acquire the freedom to pursue policies that are more suitable for the long-term survival of the country.
With the region spiraling out of control, Israel needs this freedom in order to take the offensive and forcefully argue its case. For starters it needs to clarify to the world that the lack of yet another Arab state in the region, this one in Judea and Samaria, is not the underlying cause of all the problems in the Middle East. Still further, in a manner that exudes inner conviction and resolve Israel needs to inform the world that under no circumstances will it ever agree to the creation of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria since doing so would be akin to Israel committing national suicide.
Similarly, Israel needs the freedom of being an entirely independent sovereign nation to do whatever it deems necessary to protect itself from both Iran and it proxies as well as to prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear capabilities.
Thus Israel should not run to make amends with Obama over differences concerning either Iran or the stalled “peace talks,” as many in the left-wing Israeli media are suggesting, if this will lead to attempts by the Obama administration to undermine Israel’s status as a sovereign nation by coercing it to accept policies that jeopardize its long-term survival and very existence.
Although it’s true that such a resolute Israeli position might complicate Obama’s regional plans, most Americans would probably respect a firm Israeli stance. Even more importantly, it would certainly gain the overwhelming support of the Jewish population in Israel. After years of somewhat spineless and overly accommodating leadership, the average Israeli Jew longs to see the day when our leaders will stand up and proudly tell the world what is good for the Jewish state rather than continuing with shameless adherence to the dangerous demands that are imposed upon us.
While some might dub such a steadfast Israeli position as “unrealistic” or “extremist,” the fact is it’s simply the normative approach of any healthy self-respecting Jew. What’s more, at its core it has nothing to do with confrontation with America; rather, it’s all about higher principles such as truth, righteousness and justice.
Surely America, which like any sovereign state worries first and foremost about what is in its best interest, can appreciate another sovereign state doing the same.
Yoel Meltzer, a freelance writer living in Jerusalem, has an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. He can be contacted here. This article was originally published by Ynet News.