Washington Post Notices the Obvious That Most Jews Strive to Ignore
Jonathan Tobin - 07.30.2009 - 3:19 PM
Jennifer is right about the significance of today’s Washington Post editorial, which points out that “one of the more striking results of the Obama administration’s first six months is that only one country has worse relations with the United States than it did in January: Israel.”
But isn’t it curious that the Post would, today of all days, choose to note what a great many American Jews have been working overtime trying to ignore: the hostility of the Obama administration toward the State of Israel. In the Hebrew calendar, today is the ninth of Av, or Tisha b’Av, the date on which Jews commemorate some of the worst disasters in their history. The First and Second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on this date. The expulsion of Jews from Spain was made official on Tisha b’Av, and subsequent persecutors of Jews, including the Nazis, also delighted in inaugurating new horrors on this day.
Many American Jews and other partisan Democrats have adopted a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to the president’s signals, which indicate that he views the Jewish state as an obstacle to his ambition of improving relations with the Arab and Islamic world. Indeed, as the Post explains, Obama hoped that making public his disagreements with Israel would buy him credibility with Arab governments.
While not enthralled with the Israelis’ electing a right-of-center government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu a few months after Americans chose Mr. Obama, the Post observes something Jewish Democrats have been in denial about: Obama’s one-sided pressure has only increased the appetite of Palestinian and Arab leaders for more Israeli concessions and made them less likely to reciprocate. This is a familiar pattern. So long as the Arabs can rely on Americans to pressure Israel, they feel no need to make concessions themselves or take any proactive steps (such as halting terrorism and stopping anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement in their official media) to advance the cause of peace.
As Mahmoud Abbas, the supposedly moderate head of the Palestinian Authority, recently told the Washington Post, he has no intention of dealing with Israel. Instead, he will sit back and wait for Obama to keep applying the screws to America’s only democratic ally in the region.
By putting all the public pressure on Israel and none on the Palestinians, Obama has ensured that there will be no progress toward a two-state solution — a solution the Israelis desire more fervently than the Palestinians. Polls show that Israelis understand that the president is not to be trusted. His equivocal stance on the existential threat Israel faces from Iran further undermines their faith in Washington’s goodwill and reliability. As for the Palestinians, who are ruled by a feckless Fatah in the West Bank and an Islamist Hamas in Gaza, Obama’s distancing himself from Israel has only decreased their willingness to accept an independent state, which Israel has been offering them for a decade. Why should they give up their dreams of destroying Israel and accept half a loaf when Obama’s attitude toward Israel makes them think they can do better by standing pat?
Obama’s poorly conceived diplomatic endeavors are not a harbinger of a new Holocaust, and the rift between the two countries should not be exaggerated. Indeed, while the destroyed temples are mourned today, it should be remembered that contemporary Jewry has much to celebrate. But the threats to Israel’s existence presented by a nuclear Iran and the rise of a new anti-Semitic wave around the world, whose primary characteristic is hostility toward the right of Jews to live in peace in their historic homeland, are disturbing trends that should not be ignored. If even the Washington Post can realize that this administration has singled out Israel for ill treatment, it does not behoove American Jewry to ignore it. That is especially true on a day when the calendar compels us to remember past disasters.
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