Obama's Palestinian Blindness and Unconscious Anti-Semitism

Former Israeli Ambassador to the US and current Kulanu Knesset Member Michael Oren recently wrote a scathing rebuke of President Obama’s actions vis a vis Israel. While he does so politely and goes out of his way to say “Mr. Obama was never anti-Israel” and reminds his readers that “to his credit, he significantly strengthened security cooperation with the Jewish state,” Oren carefully lists how a pattern of actions taken by the US President intentionally created a series of crises between the two countries.

Dr. Oren carefully explained how President Obama held Israel and the Palestinians to completely different standards and by doing so he sabotaged the chance for peace he supposedly championed:

Consequently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted negotiations, reconciled with Hamas and sought statehood in the U.N.—all in violation of his commitments to the U.S.—but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel.

While Obama and his administration will sometimes pay lip-service to demands for Palestinian accountability, it is never followed through with actual consequences. What’s more, while Israel is often singled out in specific statements and with specific demands, the similar statements and demands of the Palestinians are only given in reference to Israeli ones, never on their own (if someone has a link to an article where Obama only makes demands of Palestinians, please send it our way).

The gulf between President Obama’s statements and actions is immense. In the President’s last interview with Jeffery Goldberg, he seemed to understand the necessity of recognizing Israel as the Jewish State:

Do you think that Israel has a right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people, and are you aware of the particular circumstances of Jewish history that might prompt that need and desire? And if your answer is no, if your notion is somehow that that history doesn’t matter, then that’s a problem, in my mind.

And yet, despite acknowledging the necessity (which we fully explain here) he has not only refused to make Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish State a condition for peace, but he has never condemned Mahmoud Abbas or his staff for publicly stating - over and over again! - that they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish State regardless of its borders.

Just listen to what Mahmoud Abbas had to say back in 2009 at the beginning of President Obama’s first term:

The “Jewish state.” What is a “Jewish state?” We call it the “State of Israel.” You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it. And I say this on a live broadcast… It’s not my job to define it, to provide a definition for the state and what it contains. You can call yourselves the Zionist Republic, the Hebrew, the National, the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like. I don’t care.

Here we have Abbas stating unequivocally that he will never accept Israel as a Jewish State. He was never rebuked in public or private, for this or his many other similar statements. In fact, a few months after this, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the first settlement freeze since 1967 in the hopes that “this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” But Obama did not use this as an excuse to pressure Abbas to negotiate. Instead Abbas boycotted the negotiations until the 9th month of the 10 month freeze and insisted Israel extend it for the negotiations to continue. When Netanyahu conditioned an extended freeze on Palestinian recognition of Israel as the Jewish State Abbas refused and the talks collapsed. But instead of blaming Abbas for refusing to compromise or hailing Netanyahu for making significant and unprecedented concessions, President Obama and other world leaders blamed the end of negotiations on Bibi.

Jewish State

President Obama continued in his interview to explain why recognizing the Jewish State is important, especially in regards to persistent anti-Semitism:

If… you acknowledge the justness of the Jewish homeland, you acknowledge the active presence of anti-Semitism—that it’s not just something in the past, but it is current—if you acknowledge that there are people and nations that, if convenient, would do the Jewish people harm because of a warped ideology. If you acknowledge those things, then you should be able to align yourself with Israel where its security is at stake, you should be able to align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not held to a double standard in international fora, you should align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not isolated.”

He says these words but does the opposite. He holds Israel to a double standard and the Palestinians to no standards at all. He makes demands of Israel and none of the Palestinians. He equates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism but never makes a Palestinian rejection of the two a demand.

Jeffery Goldberg summed up his view of the President in this way:

this is my interpretation of his worldview—he holds Israel to a higher standard than he does other countries because of the respect he has for Jewish values and Jewish teachings, and for the role Jewish mentors and teachers have played in his life.

While this may sound all nice and good that Obama recognizes Jewish values, it isn’t up to him to hold the Jews or the Jewish State to double standards. In fact, that is the State Department definition of anti-Semitism!

DOUBLE STANDARD FOR ISRAEL: Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation

Whether President Obama is holding Israel to a double standard “out of the goodness of his heart,” “out of ‘respect’ for Jewish values” or out of sheer ignorance is irrelevant. This is anti-Semitism pure and simple and it is having disastrous consequences.