If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard from practically every person who expresses passionate disdain for Barack Obama: I don’t have a problem with his race, its his policies I disagree with. And while no doubt it is possible to not be a racist and disagree with this progressive, humanistic President, the vitriol directed at him is usually disproportionate to whatever the policy disagreement is all about. Why?
Kudos to Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev for preparing this informative story which reminds us that one of most beloved saints of American conservative politics, Ronald Reagan, was incredibly tough in his dealings with Israel. (Daddy Bush also played hardball with Israel. I remember attending a national Jewish conference in the early 1990’s at which everyone was livid that Bush was refusing to give Israel loan guarantees because of the non-stop building of new settlements on the West Bank.)
If you’re one of those people who is convinced that President Barack Obama -who has increased military aid to Israel, provided Israel with the latest military equipment, supported it at every turn at the UN, challenged Arab leaders to put an end to cultural anti-Semitism, accept and make peace with the Jewish State -has been the “worst President ever” for Israel, you need to read this piece and reconsider.
If Obama treated Israel like Reagan did, he’d be impeached
Former President Ronald Reagan’s confrontations with Israel were harsh and personal, yet Republican conservatives revere him and the Jews remember him as a great friend.
Imagine if Israel would launch a successful preemptive strike against a country that is building a nuclear bomb that threatens its very existence, and the American president would describe it as “a tragedy”.
And then, not only would the U.S. administration fail to “stand by its ally”, as Republicans pledged this week, but it would actually lend its hand to a UN Security Council decision that condemns Israel, calls on it to place its nuclear facilities under international supervision and demands that it pay reparations (!) for the damage it had wrought.
And then, to add insult to injury, the U.S. president would impose an embargo on further sales of F-16 aircraft because Israel had “violated its commitment to use the planes only in self-defense”.
Can you imagine the uproar? Can you contemplate the brouhaha? I mean, if Mitt Romney believes that President Obama “threw Israel under the bus” just for suggesting that a peace settlement with Israel be based on the 1967 borders – what would he say about a president who actually turns his back on Israel in its greatest time of need? That he hurled Israel over the cliff with a live grenade in its pocket and into a burning volcano?
And what if that very same president, only a few months later, would decide to sell truly game-changing sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia, an Arab country that is a sworn enemy of Israel? And not only would this president dismiss Israeli objections that these weapons endanger its security, but he would actually warn, in a manner that sent shivers down the spines of American Jews, that “it is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy”. And his Secretary of State would mince no words, just in case Walt or Mearsheimer hadn’t heard the first time, saying ominously that if the deal would be blocked by Israeli influence, there would be “serious implications on all American policies in the Middle East… I’ll just leave it there.” And then the two of them would extend the abovementioned arms embargo, just to twist Israel’s arm a little bit more.
I mean, what words would be left to describe such behavior, after the entire thesaurus’ arsenal of synonyms for “insult” “perfidy” and “knife in the back” have been exhausted to describe the official White House photo of President Obama talking to Prime Minister Netanyahu with his shoes on the table?
And what if this same president – you know who I’m talking about by now, but let’s keep up the charade – what if this same president, time after time after time, not only failed to exercise the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to block anti-Israeli resolutions, but actually joined Muslim and Communist and other heathen countries in supporting Security Council decisions that condemned Israel for assassinating well-known terrorists; for annexing territories that Michele Bachman has clearly stated belong only to Israel; for killing violent jihadist students at Bir Zeit University; for waging war against the enemies of Western civilization in Lebanon; and even for “Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.” Denying the human rights of Palestinians? Who wrote that? Judge Goldstone? Khaled Meshal?
But because Newt Gingrich is already on record as saying of the Obama Administration that “this one-sided, continuing pressure that says it’s always the Israelis’ fault no matter how bad the other side is has got to stop,” we have no doubt that he would say much worse things about this president we’re talking about, don’t we?
Especially when that president called for a settlement freeze that “more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks”; when he threatened a reluctant Israeli prime minister in an official letter that “the relationship between our two countries is at stake”; when the same Israeli prime minister – that this president couldn’t stand, by the way – is forced to ask why the US is treating Israel as if it was a “banana republic”; when this Administration’s secretary of defense doesn’t veil his criticism of Israel before a pro-Israeli crowd at the Saban Forum, like Leon Panetta did this week, but actually tells Congress in open session that the Israeli leader “is not a moderate”; or when the White House spokesman – Marlin Fitzwater, for God’s sake – says that the Israeli “occupation” actually “damages the self-respect and world opinion of the Israeli people.”
I mean, if Ambassador Gutman should be tarred, feathered and sacked for saying that the Middle East conflict fuels Muslim anti-Semitism, what should one do with a White House that is openly providing ammunition to the boycotters and the delegitimizers? And what would all the piqued pundits and bristling bloggers who scribed this week that the words of Panetta and Gutman along with Hillary Clinton’s off-the-record concern for Israel’s democracy prove the Obama Administration’s animosity towards Israel – what would they have to say about an Administration that often spoke to Israel with all the subtlety of Tony Soprano holding a sledgehammer in his hand?
And finally – and this is where we really enter the Twilight Zone, I admit – imagine if this president not only never once visited Israel, despite being eight years in office, but he even balked at visiting a concentration camp, as Obama did after his speech in Cairo. You want to know why? Because – take a deep breath – because the Germans “feel that they have a guilt feeling that’s been imposed upon them.” Poor things.
But wait, I’m not finished yet. So where does this president insist on going, despite overwhelming Jewish objections and an emotional last-minute appeal by Elie Wiesel in the name of Holocaust survivors? To lay a wreath at a ceremony commemorating the memory of the soldiers of the Waffen SS, a Nazi unit designated as a criminal organization at the Nuremberg trials, whose soldiers committed countless war crimes, including the razing of the Warsaw Ghetto, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Jews. And what does this president, this American idol of Republican conservatives, this righteous gentile of right-wing Jews, what does he have to say about these Nazi war criminals? That “they were victims just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”
NOW, SERIOUSLY, can you even begin to imagine what mayhem would break out if Obama would say such an insensitive, obtuse and borderline Holocaust-denying sentence? Can you picture the earthquake of rage and the tsunami of venom that would spontaneously and simultaneously erupt and sweep forth all the way from Fox News through Newt Gingrich to Pamela Geller? Is it far-fetched to imagine that America would actually grind to a halt as Republicans frantically sought a constitutional offence with which to impeach Obama and angry multitudes gathered before the White House lawn?
Ah, but Ronald Reagan, obviously, was not Obama, notwithstanding what some of Obama’s advisers once wanted you to believe. Reagan was the Gipper, the Great Communicator, the father of Reaganomics, the scourge of the Evil Empire, the great conservative revivalist who, in retrospect at least, can do no wrong. And he was a mensch, the Jews will add, because no matter what he did to Israel and how often he did it, his heart was always in the right place.
And Obama? I mean, perhaps he’s failed in other matters, but by all accounts he’s been a great help to Israel in many security -related areas, he’s supported Israel in countless international forums, and even if he has made some bad mistakes, in comparison to Reagan’s often roughshod treatment of Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, he’s a Zionist-loving pussycat, no?
That’s when your interlocutor will look you in the eye and sigh with a mix of scorn and pity. Yes, well, he’s a kalter Fisch, you know, a cold fish, he doesn’t “feel” for Israel like Reagan did, he didn’t want a photo-op with Bibi, he bowed his head before the Saudi king, his middle name is Hussein and, well, you know. We don’t have to spell it out.