Obama Unfairly Questions Jewish Critics’ Motives on Iran Deal
President Obama recently blasted critics of the Iran deal for supposedly “suggesting that the other person has bad motives.” He then proceeded to suggest that his opponents have bad motives.
It’s the latest disheartening example of how the president and his camp have resorted to inappropriate tactics in the Iran debate, such as accusing Obama’s critics of insulting him, claiming that opposition to President Obama is racist and asserting that those who are challenging the Iran deal are acting in bad faith.
Remember how this all started? Early this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dared to accept an invitation to address a joint session of Congress. The Obama White House tried to cow Netanyahu into canceling the speech by spreading the idea that Netanyahu had “insulted” President Obama by accepting the invitation.
The president even stooped so low as to use the congressional Black Caucus to make the leap from an “insult” to a “racial insult.” Emerging from a carefully choreographed meeting at the White House, Rep. Hank Johnson said the controversy with Israel’s prime minister actually was “about President Barack Obama being a black man disrespected by a foreign leader.” Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield likewise blasted Israel’s leader for supposedly being “disrespectful.” And Rep. Greg Meeks chimed in that Netanyahu’s decision “is an insult to the president of the United States.”
The irony! If one wants to identify some of the insults that have been leveled in recent American-Israeli contacts, how about the White House distributing a photo of Obama with his feet on his desk, and letting it be known that it was taken while he was talking on the phone to Israel’s prime minister? Or how about Obama getting up in the middle of a meeting with Netanyahu and telling him to wait (for more than an hour) while he went to eat dinner with Michelle and the girls?
And nobody can forget how Obama complained to the president of France, in front of a live microphone, about being burdened by “having to deal with” Netanyahu. Or how his senior aides told journalists that Prime Minister Netanyahu is comparable to chicken excrement. Now, those are genuine insults.
As he was wrapping up the Iran negotiations, the president played victim again. He told The New York Times on April 4 that his disagreement with Israel “has been as hard as anything I do.…It’s been a hard period…It has been personally difficult for me to hear…expressions that somehow…this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest.”
Now President Obama is trotting out the Victim Card yet again. He told The Forward this week that he is “offended” when “members of my administration who themselves are Jewish [are] being attacked.” He compared it to militant African-Americans accusing other blacks of being “not black enough” and “selling out.” That was wrong, he said, because it’s “not fair play” to “suggest that the other person has bad motives.”
And yet that is exactly what President Obama himself had just done. He said that those who criticize Jewish supporters of the Iran deal are accusing them of being “not Jewish enough.” In other words — according to Obama — the critics are not motivated by legitimate concerns about the deal or the trustworthiness of the Tehran regime; they are motivated by extreme Jewish nationalism and parochialism.
This is not the way to conduct a respectful debate in a civilized society. For the president to pretend that he is being unfairly criticized — to accuse his critics of questioning others’ motives — and then to himself question their motives, is unfair and inappropriate. And frankly, it’s unbecoming to the office of the president.
Mr. Korn, chairman of the Philadelphia Religious Zionists, is former executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent and the Miami Jewish Tribune.