Obama and Israel

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The over reaction of President Barack Obama to some of the political pronouncements made by Binyamin Netanyahu during the last days priorto the elections in Israel, uncovers his deep negative sentiments with regard to Netanyahu, the Jewish People and above all to the State of Israel.

At least, it appears so superficially. Immediately after assuming the presidency, Obama made it a point to travel to Egypt and pronounce a friendly message to the Arab nations, while he avoided a personal visit to Israel, minutes away from Cairo.

It can be argued, on the other hand, that President Obama responded positively to Israel’s defense needs in the recent past and he should,therefore, be commended for it. Yet it is not possible to set aside what is surely a stern and excessively severe judgment of the statements madebyNetanyahu in the heat of a political campaign for his survival, that according to some sources included direct interference by foreign advisorswhose main purpose was the unseating of the Prime Minister.

It is as if by his victory, Netanyahu dared again to defy the personal wishes of the President, who incidentally, may have also felt more than an ounce of jealousy because of the thunderous reception that Congress gave Bibi when he spoke at the invitation of John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.

These are mere conjectures and should not obscure the real confrontational reaction of Obama to the affirmations of Netanyahu. It would seem that Obama is more offended by the words than the actions of Netanyahu. For instance, the sound of alarm that Netanyahu made to hispotential voters: “the Arabs are coming out to vote in droves”, could also have been interpreted as a show of democracy in a country where Arabs can freely exercise their voting rights, a condition that is largely absent in other nations of the area.

Why has the United States been a staunch ally of Israel? First: because Israel’s value system coincides with the American political and social system. When compared to Europe, the United States is a relatively new country and can, therefore, sympathize with the pioneering spirit of Israel.

This is also, because Israel is the only democracy in the entire region. And what does democracy mean? It means that the people of Israel are the ones that determine its destiny. Its rulers govern by the consent of the Second: as a democracy, Israel will always defend the United States, in a region that questions USA intentions, where the religious and political leadership of Iran, the strongest power broker of the area, calls the United States “the big Satan”, and points to it as the main culprit in undermining the values of Islam. Israel, on the other hand, is an unconditional ally of the Third: the Jewish People have gained the sympathy and admiration of the American public at large because they fought against the terrible odds of illness and lack of water, and converted a deserted corner into a flourishing garden, created a vibrant and free society in the midst of tyranny and despotism. Even the pilgrims identified with the Jewish people when they equated the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to the Hebrews Red Sea crossing while escaping Egyptian slavery in biblical times.

The American People recognize the right of the Jewish People to return, en masse, to their ancestral home. A process that began hundreds of years ago and culminated in 1947 when the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution that recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States. It is of course unfortunate that after Israel declared its independence in 1948, the Arabs failed to do so likewise, namely proclaim the establishment of an independent Arab State and remained under the rule of Jordan until 1967.

Obama called for the overthrow of the President of Syria, because he considers him a despot, a ruler who is willing to sacrifice his own people,hundreds of thousands of them, in order to stay in power. Obama even set a “red marker”, a line in the sand, namely the use of chemical weapons that would trigger an immediate USA response. Bashar used chemical weapons and no such thing happened. Obama did not make good his admonition and, thereby, put in doubt the credibility of the States in the region. We are told that a military response is not off the table should the negotiations between Iran and the Western powers fail. That eventuality, after the non-response to the Syrian chemical weapons, is probably not taken seriously neither by the Iranians nor the American public.

Iran is now the practical ruler of several Arab capitals. Its military presence in Irak cannot be underestimated. Its direct influence is felt in Syria, Irak,Yemen, Libya. All this is happening without Iran possessing as yet nuclear capability. One can only surmise what the hegemony of Iran will be once it possesses a nuclear arsenal.

Yet, President Obama seems to be obsessed with the Israeli Palestinian peace process, as if it were the source of all the turmoil in the Middle East.

The Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, the high probability of a nuclear Iran that will surely move countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt to pursue nuclear capabilities, have nothing to do with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Neither the Iranian Ayatolahs, nor Nouri al-Maliki, the strongman of Irak, nor Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria is challenged the wayNetanyahu is constantly under Obama’s loop.

Netanyahu is correct when he affirms that he sees no immediate possibility for the establishment of a Palestinian independent state. For twoindependent states to live side-by-side, it is absolutely indispensable that the parts in the conflict recognize the right of existence of each other, without any reservation whatsoever. It requires putting a stop to the demonizing of the partner of a future peace deal. The Palestinian school children and young people have to be taught a totally revised message as to the nature of the Jewish State and its right to exist side-by-side with a new independent Palestinian State.

For Israel to contemplate this independent Palestinian State, after being targeted with thousands of rockets fired from Gaza, there must be a clear and unambiguous statement from Hamas that it no longer, or will in the future, question the right of existence of the State of Israel.

Peace is the unequivocal desire of the People of Israel. Israel has shown that the number of square kilometers under its control is not directly proportional to the development of a society. “Start up Nation” is the story of a society that proves that brain power is paramount in today’s world and not the size of the territory under its control.

Of course there are groups that argue for a Greater Israel, a Biblical Israel that includes Judea and Samaria, but they are a minority, and Israel is a democratic State where the majority determines national policy.

It would seem that the present political and social turmoil does not provide the adequate background for the resolution of the Israeli Arab conflict. Yet, the ball is in the Palestinian court. Netanyahu has clarified his position: for the peace process to go further, the Arabs have to recognize Israel as a Jewish State and renounce all violence.

Why doesn’t Mahmoud Abbas call Bibi’s bluff. Let him come out with a clear statement and let us see the Israeli reaction. If an independent ArabState is of paramount importance for the Palestinian people, such a pronouncement looms like a small contribution for such a high purpose.

Let us return to Barack Obama who will not run for the presidency again and, therefore, probably no longer feels the need of the Jewish vote or its advisors, and can now bare his inner feelings toward the Jewish people.

And these feelings seem to bear resentment and dislike for Jews in general. While these are mere assumptions, no one has looked into the President’s heart, his words and actions seem to lead to such a conclusion. Europe’s left, manifests senseless animosity toward the State of Israel that can only be explained as a modern version of good old anti-Semitism that has proven to be a light sleeper. How else can we explain that an avant guard left sides with regimes that do not offer equal rights to women, persecute those that have different sexual orientation and perpetuate royal families at their helm. As is the case of Saudi Arabia, a country that bears the name of a family that rules it.

It should be pointed out that in all the wars with the Arab nations, from the Israeli point of view, Israeli blood was spilled. There were no American boots on the ground to defend Israel. On the other hand, one cannot overemphasize the crucial and decisive importance of American concrete military help in all its aspects. But let us repeat it, the Israeli foot soldiers and pilots, truck and tank drivers were the ones that fell victims to their Reading recent history, we come across the feeble reaction of the American Jewish Community in face of the atrocities that were happening in Europe and Nazi Germany during the Second World War period. Their protests would have had more backbone and energy had there been then an independent Jewish State. There is no doubt that the existence of the State of Israel has given back a sense of pride to the Jewish People and American Jewry needs to take cognizance of this fact. Especially, for those whose liberal ideals are in conflict with some of Israel’s policies. Nazi Germany did not distinguish between liberals and conservatives.

The USA is not in the wildest imagination comparable to the Europe of those days. Yet, it is impossible to assess the real meaning and impact of an independent Jewish State in those days. Many believe, including the writer of these notes, that the course of events would have been different had there been a State of Israel at the time of the Second World War.

Sixty years ago, I applied to be an apprentice actuary in a small life insurance company. I did not know then, that the position of actuary was closed to Jews at that time. I did not receive the appointment when my interviewer learned I graduated from Yeshiva College, even though I had a Master’s degree from Columbia University in Mathematical Statistics. I had passed the written test given prior to the interview, but when my interviewer learned of the Jewish nature of the College I had attended, he went into another room and after a couple of minutes came back with news: the position had already been filled.

Medicine is by tradition a very desirable profession for Jews. Yet, many a medical school imposed quotas for the number of Jews in its student body.  Discrimination still exists in some sectors of society against Jews, though not formally as in the past. Of course, Jews are not the only ones to be discriminated. Blacks can bear testimony to discrimination and racial profiling, as recent events testify.

The American Jewish community should remember these facts that do not belong to a distant past. While History may not repeat itself, it is constantly on the brink of doing so.

From my personal point of view, the existence of the State of Israel with its many accomplishments in science and technology, including militarydefense, has given renewed honor, respect and dignity to the Jewish

People. We dare not place it in danger and should do our utmost to insure its vitality and permanence in the concert of nations of the world.

I hope you agree.