US President Barack Obama claims to be a big fan of telling the truth. In
media interviews ahead of his trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and during his
big speech in Cairo on Thursday, he claimed that the centerpiece of his
Middle East policy is his willingness to tell people hard truths. Indeed,
Obama made three references to the need to tell the truth in his so-called
address to the Muslim world.
Unfortunately, for a speech billed as an exercise in truth telling, Obama's
address fell short. Far from reflecting hard truths, Obama's speech
reflected political convenience.
Obama's so-called hard truths for the Islamic world included statements
about the need to fight so-called extremists; give equal rights to women;
provide freedom of religion; and foster democracy. Unfortunately, all of his
statements on these issues were nothing more than abstract, theoretical
declarations devoid of policy prescriptions.
He spoke of the need to fight Islamic terrorists without mentioning that
their intellectual, political and monetary foundations and support come from
the very mosques, politicians and regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt that
Obama extols as moderate and responsible.
He spoke of the need to grant equality to women without making mention of
common Islamic practices like so-called honor killings, and female genital
mutilation. He ignored the fact that throughout the lands of Islam women are
denied basic legal and human rights. And then he qualified his statement by
mendaciously claiming that women in the US similarly suffer from an equality
deficit. In so discussing this issue, Obama sent the message that he
couldn't care less about the plight of women in the Islamic world.
So too, Obama spoke about the need for religious freedom but ignored Saudi
Arabian religious apartheid. He talked about the blessings of democracy but
ignored the problems of tyranny.
In short, Obama's "straight talk" to the Arab world, which began with his
disingenuous claim that like America, Islam is committed to "justice and
progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings," was consciously
and fundamentally fraudulent. And this fraud was advanced to facilitate his
goal of placing the Islamic world on equal moral footing with the free
In a like manner, Obama's tough "truths" about Israel were marked by factual
and moral dishonesty in the service of political ends.
On the surface Obama seemed to scold the Muslim world for its all-pervasive
Holocaust denial and craven Jew hatred. By asserting that Holocaust denial
and anti-Semitism are wrong, he seemed to be upholding his earlier claim
that America's ties to Israel are "unbreakable."
Unfortunately, a careful study of his statements shows that Obama was
actually accepting the Arab view that Israel is a foreign and therefore
unjustifiable intruder in the Arab world. Indeed, far from attacking their
rejection of Israel, Obama legitimized it.
The basic Arab argument against Israel is that the only reason Israel was
established was to sooth the guilty consciences of Europeans who were
embarrassed about the Holocaust. By their telling, the Jews have no legal,
historic or moral rights to the Land of Israel.
This argument is completely false. The international community recognized
the legal, historic and moral rights of the Jewish people to the Land of
Israel long before anyone had ever heard of Adolf Hitler. In 1922, the
League of Nations mandated the "reconstitution" not the creation -- of the
Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel in its historic borders on both
sides of the Jordan River.
But in his self-described exercise in truth telling, Obama ignored this
basic truth in favor of the Arab lie. He gave credence to this lie by
stating wrongly that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a
tragic history." He then explicitly tied Israel's establishment to the
Holocaust by moving to a self-serving history lesson about the genocide of
Even worse than his willful blindness to the historic, legal, and moral
justifications for Israel's rebirth, was Obama's characterization of Israel
itself. Obama blithely, falsely and obnoxiously compared Israel's treatment
of Palestinians to white American slave owners' treatment of their black
slaves. He similarly cast Palestinian terrorists in the same morally pure
category as slaves. Perhaps most repulsively, Obama elevated Palestinian
terrorism to the moral heights of slave rebellions and the civil rights
movement by referring to it by its Arab euphemism, "resistance."
But as disappointing and frankly obscene as Obama's rhetoric was, the
policies he outlined were much worse. While prattling about how Islam and
America are two sides of the same coin, Obama managed to spell out two clear
policies. First he announced that he will compel Israel to completely end
all building for Jews in Judea, Samaria, and eastern, northern and southern
Jerusalem. Second he said that he will strive to convince Iran to substitute
its nuclear weapons program with a nuclear energy program.
Obama argued that the first policy will facilitate peace and the second
policy will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Upon reflection
however, it is clear that neither of his policies can possibly achieve his
stated aims. Indeed, their inability to accomplish the ends he claims he has
adopted them to advance is so obvious, that it is worth considering what his
actual rationale for adopting them may be.
The administration's policy towards Jewish building in Israel's heartland
and capital city expose a massive level of hostility towards Israel. Not
only does it fly in the face of explicit US commitments to Israel undertaken
by the Bush administration, it contradicts a longstanding agreement between
successive Israeli and American governments not to embarrass each other.
Moreover, the fact that the administration cannot stop attacking Israel
about Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, but has nothing
to say about Hizbullah's projected democratic takeover of Lebanon next week,
Hamas's genocidal political platform, Fatah's involvement in terrorism, or
North Korean ties to Iran and Syria, has egregious consequences for the
prospects for peace in the region.
As Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas made clear in his interview last week with the
Washington Post, in light of the administration's hostility towards
Israel, the Palestinian Authority no longer feels it is necessary to make
any concessions whatsoever to Israel. It needn't accept Israel's identity as
a Jewish state. It needn't minimize in any way its demand that Israel commit
demographic suicide by accepting millions of foreign, hostile Arabs as full
citizens. And it needn't curtail its territorial demand that Israel contract
to within indefensible borders.
In short, by attacking Israel and claiming that Israel is responsible for
the absence of peace, the administration is encouraging the Palestinians and
the Arab world as a whole to continue to reject Israel and to refuse to make
peace with the Jewish state.
The Netanyahu government reportedly fears that Obama and his advisors have
made such an issue of settlements because they seek to overthrow Israel's
government and replace it with the more pliable Kadima party. Government
sources note that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel played a central
role in destabilizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's first government
in 1999, when he served as an advisor to then president Bill Clinton. They
also note that Emmanuel is currently working with leftist Israelis and
American Jews associated with Kadima and the Democratic Party to discredit
While there is little reason to doubt that the Obama administration would
prefer a leftist government in Jerusalem, it is unlikely that the White
House is attacking Israel primarily to advance this aim. This is first of
all the case because today there is little danger that Netanyahu's coalition
partners will abandon him.
Moreover, the Americans have no reason to believe that prospects for a peace
deal would improve with a leftist government at the helm in Jerusalem. After
all, despite its best efforts, the Kadima government was unable to make
peace with the Palestinians as was the Labor government before it. What the
Palestinians have shown consistently since the failed 2000 Camp David summit
is that there is no deal that Israel can offer them that they are willing to
So if the aim of the administration in attacking Israel is neither to foster
peace nor to bring down the Netanyahu government, what can explain its
The only reasonable explanation is that the administration is baiting Israel
because it wishes to abandon the Jewish state as an ally in favor of warmer
ties with the Arabs. It has chosen to attack Israel on the issue of Jewish
construction because it believes that by concentrating on this issue, it
will minimize the political price it will be forced to pay at home for
jettisoning America's alliance with Israel. By claiming that he is only
pressuring Israel in order to enable a peaceful "two-state solution," Obama
assumes that he will be able to maintain his support base among American
Jews who will overlook the underlying hostility his "pro-peace" stance
Obama's policy towards Iran is a logical complement of his policy towards
Israel. Just as there is no chance that he will bring Middle East peace
closer by attacking Israel, so he will not prevent Iran from acquiring
nuclear weapons by offering the mullahs nuclear energy. The deal Obama is
now proposing has been on the table since 2003 when Iran's nuclear program
was first exposed. Over the past six years, the Iranians have repeatedly
rejected it. Indeed, just last week they again announced that they reject
Here too, to understand the President's actual goal it is necessary to
search for the answers closer to home. Since Obama's policy has no chance of
preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is apparent that he has
come to terms with the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. In light of this,
the most rational explanation for his policy of engaging Iran is that he
wishes to avoid being blamed when Iran emerges as a nuclear power in the
In reckoning with the Obama administration, it is imperative that the
Netanyahu government and the public alike understand what the true goals of
its current policies are. Happily, consistent polling data show that the
overwhelming majority of Israelis realize that the White House is deeply
hostile towards Israel. The data also show that the public approves of
Netanyahu's handling of our relations with Washington.
Moving forward, the government must sustain this public awareness and
support. By his words as well as by his deeds, not only has Obama shown that
he is not a friend of Israel. He has shown that there is nothing that Israel
can do to make him change his mind.