What I Would Have Asked Obama
On Tuesday night, Israel’s Channel 2 network aired an interview with U.S. President Barack Obama, conducted by respected Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan. This was yet another tine of Obama’s multi-pronged charm offensive, to make sure the Jews who supported and funded him do not abandon him and the Democratic Party as the 2016 presidential election draws near.
Coming on the heels of a sit-down with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic and an address to the Adas Israel congregation in Washington, it was not the least bit original. On the contrary, it was basically a repeat of everything Obama has been saying to assure Jewish donors that he has Israel’s best interests at heart.
This is among many reasons that Dayan need not be patting herself on the back for scoring the coveted one-on-one at the White House. Indeed, she was merely serving as a pawn in Obama’s transparent maneuver to capitulate to Iran, and to keep Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings about Iran from being taken seriously.
Still, a tough investigative journalist like Dayan could have made better use of the microphone. But for this, she would have had to avoid slipping into idolatry mode and keep herself from fawning like a high-school girl in the presence of a movie star whose poster hangs over her bed.
Since I don’t have that particular problem in relation to America’s “leader-from-behind,” I prepared an alternative list of questions I would have liked to hear Obama answer.
- Mr. President, your tense relations with Prime Minister Netanyahu are no secret. Can you give a single example of his having disobeyed your demands and commands? Did he not agree to negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, freeze settlement construction, release terrorists, and apologize to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the 2010 events surrounding the “Free Gaza” flotilla?
- Mr. President, in your recent speech at the Adas Israel synagogue, you quipped that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wasn’t the “easiest person” to negotiate with. This elicited sympathetic laughter from the audience. Can you give a single example of his having accommodated Secretary of State John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy efforts?
- Mr. President, you have said that it is imperative that Israel “live up to the core values on which it was founded.” Can you give a single example of its not having done so?
- Mr. President, you have expressed concern that in the absence of a “two-state solution,” Israeli democracy would be in jeopardy. Prime Minister Netanyahu clearly agrees with you on this, as is indicated by his public endorsement in 2009 in a speech at Bar-Ilan University. Prior to his election in March, he acknowledged that this would not happen during his tenure, given the realities on the ground. After the elections, due to pressure from you and others, he said that he would resume negotiating with the PA, albeit with caveats. What about this position is problematic? Has the PA done anything to cause you to disagree with Netanyahu’s assessments?
- Mr. President, everyone is aware of the pressure you have been applying on Israel to bring about peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians. Can you give a single example of pressure on the PA? For example, have you addressed any mosques in America and appealed to congregants about the commemoration in the PA of Nakba Day, mourning the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948? Have you insisted that Palestinian television cease teaching young children to take up arms against Jews?
- Mr. President, you have said that “all options are on the table” where a nuclearizing Iran is concerned. Yet now you are claiming that there is no military solution. Meanwhile, Iran denies the clauses of the framework agreement, signed in Lausanne in April, which is to be finalized at the end of this month. Furthermore, its stockpile of nuclear fuel has increased by 20% over the last 18 months; the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have taken at least four Americans prisoner; women’s rights activist Atena Farghadani was just sentenced to 14 years in prison for posting a cartoon on Facebook, mocking Iranian politicians who supported an anti-contraception bill; a trial has begun against Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian for espionage and “disseminating propaganda against the Islamic republic.” Rezaian, an American citizen, has been held in Iran’s torturous Evin Prison, mostly in solitary confinement, and subjected to fierce interrogations, while being denied medical treatment for his deteriorating health. Are you still planning on going ahead with the deal?
- Mr. President, you always show great concern for “the children” of the world. For instance, you say that children in Ramallah should have the same opportunities for a bright future as children in Israel. Do you feel the same way about children in Iran? If so, why did you refrain from helping the Green Movement when it attempted to overthrow the mullah-led regime in 2009? Why did you say it was not your place to intervene on their behalf?
- Finally, Mr. President, you have categorized Netanyahu and his friends in the U.S. Republican Party as forging foreign policy based on fear, rather than hope. Can you give a single example of a hope-based policy that has panned out since you took office?
Ruthie Blum is the web editor of Voice of Israel talk radio (voiceofisrael.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.