Obama’s Behavior Towards Israel Is Not Netanyahu’s Fault
At a conference on Wednesday held by Darkenu — a self-described “grass-roots movement of the Israeli moderate majority” — former Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak blasted incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu for endangering the country’s security. As someone who turned imperiling the Jewish state into an art form, Barak ought to know better.
It was Barak, after all, who made grandiose offers of territory and other concessions to Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat which, had they been accepted, would have done Israel in. It was he who exposed the truth — the one the rest of us knew already — that the Palestinian terror master and Nobel Peace prize laureate was ever-bent on annihilating the Jews in his vicinity.
Indeed, when Barak made his final appeasement offer at Camp David in 2000, Arafat returned the favor by launching a suicide-bombing war against innocent Israelis. Yet Barak proceeded to blame his successors for a lack of a two-state solution.
And let’s not forget Barak’s hightail-it-out-of-there retreat from southern Lebanon that left a vacuum for Iran to fill. Barak’s response since then is to spew more vitriol at Netanyahu than at Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.
But, hey, such is the manner of washed-up has-beens. To stay relevant on the think tank and lecture circuit, they need something to say, and it isn’t “I’m sorry.”
It was thus not surprising that he devoted his talk at the Darkenu conference to what he called Netanyahu’s “lack of judgment” and “fecklessness” regarding Israel’s most pressing and profound security concerns by — get this — destroying the Jewish state’s crucial and previously warm relationship with the United States. Yes, according to Barak, Netanyahu is a fascist who uses fear-mongering about “existential threats” like a nuclear Iran in order to stay in power.
Though Tehran’s ambitions and other issues do indeed pose some danger, Barak conceded, Netanyahu has exaggerated them to the point at which the White House can no longer tolerate him. You know, by doing things like warning Congress not to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Evidence of Netanyahu’s reckless endangerment on this score, he said, lies in the poor U.S. aid package and unfortunate stipulations about spending any of it on Israeli defense industries.
It is legitimate for rivals to attack Netanyahu politically. But not one word of Barak’s tirade was the truth. In order to avoid being challenged about the many false “facts” he presented, he covered his rear by claiming to be privy to “another incident [showing Netanyahu’s] failure to internalize the potential of cooperation with the United States, as well as careless operational behavior, [which] led to a most worrisome exposure of Israel to a key security challenge,” but “due to the matter’s sensitivity,” he was not at liberty to elaborate.
How about we do some elaborating for him?
From the moment that US President Barack Obama took office, he proceeded to implement the intertwined policies of “leading from behind,” reaching out to radical Muslims and emulating Europe. In this context, he could only view Israel as a hindrance. To the new White House and State Department, the Jewish state had to be seen — like America — as an entity at fault for the hostility and belligerence it aroused among “disgruntled” Islamists and other haters.
In addition, perhaps even more importantly, as a country founded on Jewish nationalism, Israel by its very nature was antithetical to Obama’s entire outlook — forged and cultivated by his mentor, Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky. As this new America was doing away with the National Anthem and Christian holiday symbols in public schools and institutions, Israel was maintaining a sense of pride in itself, as well as a shared belief that the values of freedom and democracy are not only worth fighting for, but necessary for survival in a region and a world increasingly moving in the opposite direction.
In other words, Israel appears to the administration in Washington to be like an extension of the Republican Party.
It is the Democrats’ shift away from such basics that has caused Israel no longer to be what Americans call a “bipartisan issue.” Netanyahu has nothing to do with it. And if Barak were to replace him in the Prime Minister’s Office today, he would be given the same treatment by the White House to which Netanyahu has been subjected for the past seven and a half years — merely by attempting to protect Israelis from Palestinian terrorism and Iranian rockets.
Just as global antisemitism is not Israel’s fault, neither is the appalling behavior of the Obama administration toward Netanyahu. It is time for Israeli politicians, especially failed ones, to stop insisting otherwise.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.