When Air Force One touches down in Israel for meetings this week, President Barack Obama has his hands full. Iran is about a year away from developing a nuclear weapon, and Obama must convince Israel he is trustworthy before he can suggest to anyone that taking a preemptive strike against Iran is a lousy idea.
Obama has a terrible track record when it comes to Israel. In fact, a recent survey done by algemeiner.com shows most Israelis don’t like him. Of those surveyed, just 10 percent held a favorable opinion of Obama, 17 percent held highly unfavorable regard, 19 percent unfavorable, and 32 percent said they respect him (but don’t necessary like him. )
But, who could blame them? Obama is the first American president in history to demonstrate indifference toward them with both words and deeds. Israelis didn’t just wake up one morning and decide they don’t like our president. Actions have consequences. Israelis listened when Obama made disparaging remarks about their prime minister to the French president. They were offended when, according to The White House Watch, Obama rudely walked out of a meeting and left Prime Minister Netanyahu “to his own devices” to eat alone. They’ve watched when Obama repeatedly fanned the flame of animosity between Israelis and Palestinians by swelling settlement issues. Most recently, they were taken aback by Obama’s choice of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who many label as anti-Semitic.
When it comes to settlement issues, one would like to feel empathy for the pitiful predicament the Palestinian people find themselves in nowadays; but it is vital to separate feelings from facts. After all, Israel is a miniscule speck on the map about the same size as Houston, Texas, hemmed in by those who refuse to acknowledge her statehood and habitually threaten her.
There is not, nor has there ever been, a country of Palestine. Technically speaking, both the West Bank and Gaza Strip lack the criteria recognized by the international community defining a state. No matter how vociferously they shout, or how sorry we feel for them, it is wrong to give the Palestinian people something that is not theirs to begin with.
Also, Israel is not the warmongering state some make her out to be. As I’ve written before, prior to the infamous 1967 Six Day War, Israel made every effort to avoid conflict by attempting negotiations with its hostile neighbors only to be met with threats, taunts, and harassment.
In 1963, the Arab League organized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), whose charter called for Israel’s destruction. The PLO’s guerrillas attacked Israeli citizens 35 times in 1965, 41 in 1966, and 37 in the first quarter of 1967, infiltrating Israel from Jordan, the Gaza Strip, and Lebanon.
Shedding light on the motivation for the attacks, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser explained, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel,” promising Arabs would enter Palestine “with its soil saturated in blood.” From 3000 feet above Galilee atop the Golan Heights, Syria joined the attacks by shelling Israeli farms and villages, forcing women and children to live in bomb shelters. With threats of “soil saturated in blood,” the UN’s refusal to intervene, and America’s decision to remain neutral, Israel was forced to go it alone. In the end, Israel brilliantly captured the Sinai, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights, finally uniting Jerusalem.
Now, every action taken by Israel in self-defense is twisted to conform to, as one of my friends describes it, “the legitimacy of the emotional and hysterical Muslim view of the world, which bears no resemblance to historical or political reality.”
If Obama’s goal is peace in the Middle East, he must begin with his emphatic and unwavering support for our longtime friend and ally, Israel.
Photo credit: terrellaftermath