The Menorah, Jerusalem Israel
Barack Obama's views regarding Israel are reflected in the actions he has taken, the words he has spoken, and the associations he has cultivated throughout the course of his adult life -- and most importantly, throughout his political career. Below are some of the more noteworthy examples, starting in the early 1990s and continuing through the present day:
Obama's longtime association with the anti-Semitic Jeremiah Wright:
For nearly two decades, Barack Obama was a member of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama described Wright as his “spiritual advisor,” his “mentor,” and “one of the greatest preachers in America.” Moreover, Obama contributed large sums of money to Wright's church, and he chose Wright to perform his wedding ceremony and to baptize his two young daughters.
Wright has long been a vocal critic of Israel and Zionism, which he has blamed for inflicting “injustice and … racism” on the Palestinian people. According to Wright, Zionism contains an element of “white racism.” Likening Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to South Africa’s treatment of blacks during the apartheid era, Wright advocates divestment campaigns targeting companies that conduct any business in, or with, Israel. He has referred to Israel as a "dirty word," asserting that "ethnic cleansing [by] the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity."
On December 4, 2007, Wright was named as a member of the Obama presidential campaign's newly created African American Religious Leadership Committee. But Wright was compelled to step down from the Committee three months later, after videotapes of his many hate-filled sermons ignited fierce public debate and criticism. For further information about Wright and his anti-Semitism, click here.
Obama's ties to Rashid Khalidi and the the Arab American Action Network:
During his Illinois state senate years in the mid- to late 1990s, Barack Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, where he became friendly withRashid Khalidi, a professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Obama and his wife were regular dinner guests at Khalidi’s Hyde Park home.
Characterizing Israel as a “racist” state and “basically an apartheid system in creation,” Khalidi during the 1980s so strongly identified with the aims of Yasser Arafat's PLO, which was designated as a terrorist group by the State Department at the time, that he repeatedly referred to himself as “we” when expounding on the PLO’s agenda. In the early 1990s, Khalidi was involved with the PLO's so-called “guidance committee.” In 1995 Khalidi and his wife Mona founded the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), noted for its contention that Israel’s creation in 1948 was a "catastrophe" for Arab people. In 2001 and again in 2002, theWoods Fund of Chicago, with Obama serving on its board, made grants totaling $75,000 to the AAAN.
In 2003 Obama attended a farewell party in Khalidi’s honor when the latter was preparing to leave Chicago to embark on a new position at Columbia University. At this event, Obama paid public tribute to Khalidi as someone whose insights had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.” Khalidi later told the largely pro-Palestinian attendees that Obama deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat, stating: “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances.”
Obama's ties to Ali Abunimah, former vice president of the Arab American Action Network:
Onetime AAAN vice president Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada (a website that, like AAAN, refers to Israel’s creation as a "catastrophe") once told interviewerAmy Goodman: “I knew Barack Obama for many years as my state senator -- when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time. I remember personally introducing him onstage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And that’s just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation.”
In June 2007 Abunimah recalled: “When Obama first ran for the Senate in 2004, the Chicago Jewish News interviewed him on his stance regarding Israel’s security fence. He accused the Bush administration of neglecting the ‘Israeli-Palestinian’ situation and criticized the security fence built by Israel to prevent terror attacks: ‘The creation of a wall dividing the two nations is yet another example of the neglect of this administration in brokering peace,’ Obama was quoted as saying.”
Also in 2007, Abunimah said: “The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing. As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, ‘Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.’ He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and U.S. policy, ‘Keep up the good work!’”
Candidate Obama publicly criticizes Israel's conservative Likud Party:
In February 2008, then-U.S. Senator (and presidential candidate) Barack Obamatold an audience in Cleveland: "There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, that you're anti-Israel." When Obama made that assertion, Likud had already been out of power for two years, and the country was being led by the centrist Kadima government (of Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Shimon Peres) which had been pursuing territorial compromise of unprecedented magnitude. Moreover, as the Wall Street Journalpoints out: "It was under Likud that Israel made its largest territorial compromises—withdrawals from Sinai and Gaza."
Candidate Obama's reluctance to publicly refer to terrorism against Israel:
When running for President, then-Senator Obama referred, in his July 2008 speech in Berlin, to the need to “dismantle the [terrorist] networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York.” He made no mention of Israel.
President-elect Obama chooses the leader of a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group to recite a prayer during his January 2009 inauguration:
Obama selected Ingrid Mattson -- then-president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group that had previously been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror-funding case -- to recite a prayer during his inauguration ceremonies in January 2009. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is the ideological forebear of both Hamas and al Qaeda, openly promotes the establishment of a worldwide Islamic caliphate and is bitterly hostile towards Israel. Not only did Obama fail to ask Mattson to explain ISNA’s links to the Brotherhood and Hamas, but he sent his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to be the keynote speaker at ISNA’s national convention later that year.
President Obama's first call to a foreign leader was to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas:
Two days after his inauguration, President Obama placed his first phone call to a foreign leader -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas had repeatedly emphasized the importance of "implementing the principles of Yasser Arafat," the most prolific Jew-killer since Adolf Hitler; he had praised the terrorist group Hezbollah as a shining example of "Arab resistance" against alleged Israeli oppression; he had lauded Palestinian terrorists as "strugglers" and "martyrs" whom "Allah loves"; he had steadfastly refused to acknowledge Israel's right to exist; he was the head of the Fatah Party, a movement whose Charter continued to advocate terrorism against, and the annihilation of, Israel; he had authorized lump-sum payments of $2,200 apiece to the surviving family members of Palestinian shahids(martyrs) -- including suicide bombers; and he had exhorted Palestinians to "unite the Hamas and Fatah blood in the struggle against Israel as we did at the beginning of the Intifada."
Obama's ties to the International Crisis Group, and their implications for Israel:
President Obama has long had a high regard for the political acumen of Robert Malley, Mideast Director of the International Crisis Group (ICG). Over the years, Malley has penned numerous articles and op-eds condemning Israel, exonerating Palestinians, urging the U.S. to disengage from Israel to some degree, and recommending that America reach out to negotiate with its traditional Arab enemies such as Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. In 2007 Malley, a Harvard-trained lawyer, became a foreign-policy advisor to the Obama presidential campaign. But in mid-2008, the Obama campaign was forced -- out of political necessity -- to sever its ties with Malley after the Times of London revealed that he had secretly been in regular contact with Hamas leaders as part of his work for ICG.
Notwithstanding Malley's fall from grace, Obama's foreign policies have been, from the outset of his presidency, very much aligned with the recommendations of Malley and the ICG. For one, Obama has often emphasized his willingness to negotiate with even the most unyielding enemies of the United States, and has sought to persuade Israel to take that same approach. Six days after his inauguration, for instance, Obama granted his first television interview as U.S. President to Al Arabiya, a Dubai-based network, where he stated: “[A]ll too often the United States starts by dictating ... and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen.” He subsequently called on Israel to drop its “preconceptions” and to negotiate for peace with Hamas, the terrorist organization whose founding charter remains irrevocably committed to the permanent destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews. Obama further signaled an eagerness to conduct “unconditional talks” on nuclear matters with Iran -- even as as that nation was actively supplying high-tech weaponry to Hamas and Hezbollah, and even after its president had repeatedly declared that "Israel must be wiped off the map."
Obama's ties to J Street:
President Obama has also demonstrated an ideological compatibility with J Street, an organization which believes that peace between Arabs and Israelis depends wholly upon the development of “a new direction for American policy in the Middle East,” a direction that recognizes "the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own”—where Palestine and Israel exist “side-by-side in peace and security." Toward this end, J Street supports “diplomatic solutions over military ones,” “multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution,” and “dialogue over confrontation.” Israel’s partner in such a dialogue would necessarily be Hamas, which holds the reins of political power in Gaza and steadfastly denies Israel’s right to exist. Yet J Street has cautioned Israel not to be too combative against Hamas, on grounds that the latter “has been the government, law and order, and service provider since it won the [Palestinian] elections in January 2006 and especially since June 2007 when it took complete control.” In the final analysis, J Street traces the Mideast conflict chiefly to the notion that “Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories have, for over forty years, been an obstacle to peace.”
The foregoing J Street positions are largely indistinguishable from those of President Obama, who likewise favors a two-state solution whereby Israel and “a sovereign Palestine” would live “side by side—in peace.” To achieve such a resolution, he says, initiatives to construct additional Israeli settlements in the West Bank “have to be stopped.” In October 2009, Obama signaled his support for J Street's agendas when he sent national-security advisor James Jones to deliver the keynote addressat a J Street conference.
Obama appoints a DHS official with ties to Islamic extremists:
In April 2009, President Obama appointed Los Angeles deputy mayor Arif Alikhanas assistant secretary for policy development at the Department of Homeland Security. Two weeks before he received this appointment, Alikhan (who once called the jihadist terror group Hezbollah a “liberation movement”) had participated in a fundraiser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which, like ISNA, is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama appoints a pro-Sharia adviser:
Also during the early part of his presidency, Obama appointed Dalia Mogahed -- a pro-Sharia Muslim -- as his chief adviser on Islamic affairs.
Together with such luminaries as Feisal Abdul Rauf, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and diplomat Dennis Ross, Mogahed was a leading voice in theLeadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement, which in September 2008 had issued a 154-page recommendation paper -- a number of whose suggestions (on how to improve America's relationship with Muslims globally) were eventuallyadopted by the Obama administration. The paper specifically called on the U.S. to engage opposition parties (including the Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, and to use intermediaries to engage Hamas -- in hopes of moderating the terror group.
In early October 2009, Mogahed was interviewed on a British television programhosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party, which seeks to facilitate the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of a worldwide Islamic state governed by Sharia Law. Bsis and another guest (also a member of Hizb ut Tahrir) stated that Sharia should be “the source of legislation” for all nations in the world; they also repeatedly condemned the “man-made law” and the “lethal cocktail of liberty and capitalism” that existed in Western societies. Mogahed did not dispute any of their assertions. Instead she stated that the Western view of Sharia was "oversimplified," and that the majority of Muslim women around the world associated Islamic Law with "gender justice." "I think the reason so many women support Sharia is because they have a very different understanding of Sharia than the common perception in Western media,” she said.
Obama goes to Cairo to address the Muslim world:
On June 4, 2009, President Obama went to Cairo, Egypt to deliver a much-anticipated address to the Muslim world. During the weeks prior to the speech, he made sure to invite Muslim Brotherhood leaders to attend. During the speech itself, the President stated that "anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust." But he made no mention of the Arab anti-Semitism of the World War II era (and beyond), even though he was speaking in the very country that had made a national hero of Grand Mufti Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, who spent the war years in Berlin as Hitler's guest, helping the fuehrer facilitate the Final Solution. Nor did Obama once mention the word "terrorism."
Drawing a moral equivalence between the historical experiences of the Jews and Middle Eastern Arabs, Obama said: "The Jewish people were persecuted.… [A]nti-Semitism … culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust…. Six million Jews were killed…. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."
Obama also made reference to the “pain” of the “dislocation” experienced by some 600,000 Arabs during the 1948 war -- a war that began when five Arab armies united to attack Israel in an effort to destroy the nascent Jewish state on the very day of its birth. But he said nothing of the 900,000 Jewish refugees who were forcibly expelled from regions all over the Arab Middle East, where they and their ancestors had lived for hundreds, even thousands, of years.
“There has been a stalemate,” Obama elaborated. “Two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history…. It's easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks."
Professor and Hudson Institute fellow Anne Bayefsky observed:
“Calling the Israeli-Arab conflict a ‘stalemate’ represents an abysmal failure to acknowledge historical reality. The modern state of Israel emerged after an internationally approved partition plan of November 1947 that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab; this plan was accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs. One people has always been prepared to live in peace, and the other has chosen war in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 1973 and 1982, and renewed terrorism after its every loss.”Added Bayefsky:
“Obama [in the Cairo speech] analogized Palestinian ‘daily humiliations …that come with occupation’ to the ‘humiliation of segregation’ of black slaves in America and the ‘moral authority’ of ‘people from South Africa.’ His Arab audience understood that the president of the United States had just given a nod to the single most potent defamation of the Jewish state today — the allegation that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.”Obama urges Jewish leaders to put "daylight" between the U.S. and Israel:
In July 2009, President Obama hosted American Jewish leaders at the White House and informed them that he sought to put "daylight" between America and Israel. "For eight years [i.e., during the Bush administration], there was no light between the United States and Israel, and nothing got accomplished," Obama said. In that same meeting, the President told those in attendance that Israel would need "to engage in serious self-reflection."
Obama's first address to the UN General Assembly:
In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009, President Obama devoted five paragraphs to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In his remarks, Obama boasted that under his administration, the U.S. had already joined the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). He did not mention that, as of that point in time, the UNHRC had adopted more resolutions and decisions against Israel than against all the other 191 UN member states combined.
Regarding the Mideast conflict, the President drew a moral equivalence between the suffering of the Israelis and of the Palestinians. Most notably, he rejected the legitimacy of Israeli "settlements" and he referred to Israel as an "occup[ier]" of Palestinian territory:
- "We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel. And we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
- "The time has come to relaunch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues, security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security; a Jewish state of Israel with true security for all Israelis and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."
- "The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security."
Obama laments that Israel has been unwilling to make any "bold gestures" for peace:
In a January 2010 interview, President Obama said -- despite Israel’s acceptance-in-principle of a Palestinian state, its readiness to negotiate, and its commitment to an unprecedented ten-month Jewish construction freeze in Judea and Samaria -- that Israel theretofore had made no “bold gestures” for peace.
Obama opposes Israel's plan to build houses in a settlement near Jerusalem:
In November 2009, President Obama expressed displeasure over Israel's approval of a plan to build 900 new homes in Gilo, a settlement of 40,000 Israelis situated in a part of the West Bank that Israel had captured in 1967 and annexed to Jerusalem. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to limit new construction in West Bank settlements, he stated that the Jerusalem municipality would be excluded from any settlement limits sought by Washington. Said Obama: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbours. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous."
The Obama administration again criticizes Israeli settlements:
During Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel in March 2010, a Jerusalem municipal office announced plans to build some 1,600 housing units for Jews in a section of that city. In response, Biden reportedly told Prime Minister Netanyahu: “This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.” The Wall Street Journal describes what happened next:
"The president launched an unprecedented weeks-long offensive against Israel. Mr. Biden very publicly departed Israel.Washington Post columnist and Middl East expert Jackson Diehl wrote that "Netanyahu is being treated [by Obama] as if he were an unsavory Third World dictator."
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton berated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a now-infamous 45-minute phone call, telling him that Israel had 'harmed the bilateral relationship.' (The State Department triumphantly shared details of the call with the press.) The Israeli ambassador was dressed-down at the State Department, Mr. Obama's Middle East envoy canceled his trip to Israel, and the U.S. joined the European condemnation of Israel.
"Moments after Mr. Biden concluded his visit to the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority held a ceremony to honor Dalal Mughrabi, who led one of the deadliest Palestinian terror attacks in history: the so-called Coastal Road Massacre that killed 38, including 13 children and an American. The Obama administration was silent. But that same day, on ABC, [Obama adviser David] Axelrod called Israel's planned construction of apartments in its own capital an 'insult' and an 'affront' to the United States. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs went on Fox News to accuse Mr. Netanyahu of 'weakening trust' between the two countries.
"Ten days later, Mr. Netanyahu traveled to Washington to mend fences but was snubbed at a White House meeting with President Obama—no photo op, no joint statement, and he was sent out through a side door."
Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, received “the same message of American disapproval and outrage” from Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg—it being clear by now that the anger was being “managed” from the top, that is, by President Obama himself. Ambassador Oren called the incident “the worst [for Israel] with the U.S. in 35 years.”
It should be noted that, contrary to the Obama administration’s insistence that Israel was jeopardizing peace by encroaching on negotiable terrain, the construction site in Jerusalem was anything but disputed territory. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and the construction site was in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood where housing construction had been underway since the early 1990s. By its insistence that Israel cease all building in East Jerusalem, it was the Obama administration, and not Israel, that was breaking with precedent.
Obama refuses to intervene in an Israeli dispute with Turkey and Egypt:
In April 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu withdrew from an Obama-sponsored Washington summit on nuclear proliferation after it became apparent that Turkey and Egypt intended to use the occasion to denounce Israel's nuclear program; Obama chose not to intervene in this dispute.
Obama chooses not to explicitly make reference to an act of murderous Islamic terrorism against an American:
In May 2010, when President Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, he did not mention that Pearl, the late Wall Street Journal reporter, had been beheaded by Islamist terrorists because he was a Jew. Nor did the President mention that Pearl, in the video recorded of his gruesome murder, had been forced to state specifically that he was an American Jew. Instead, Obama euphemisticallyreferred only to Pearl’s “loss.”
The Obama administration's response to Israel's interception of a terrorist-laden flotilla headed for Gaza:
In early 2010, a Turkish organization known as the IHH -- which has known ties to Hamas, al Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood -- collaborated with the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) to organize a six-ship flotilla of Muslim and anti-Israel activists who would sail (from various points in the Mediterranean region) to Gaza for the purpose of breaking Israel's naval blockade (which had been established to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry from Iran and other allies abroad).
IHH owned and operated the Mavi Marmara, the flotilla's lead ship. The flotilla embarked on its journey toward Gaza in late May of 2010. For several days, Israel issued warnings that the ships would not be permitted to dock in Gaza without first submitting to an inspection of their cargoes. But the crews of the vessels refused to comply; thus Israeli commandos intercepted the flotilla in the early morning hours of May 31. The IHH-affiliated activists responded violently, attacking the commandos with knives, clubs and pistol fire. In the melee that ensued, nine activists were killed and seven Israeli soldiers were wounded. (For comprehensive details pertaining to FGM's agendas and the flotilla incident, click here.)
In the wake of the flotilla incident, MSNBC reported that the Obama administration "wants to see a new approach that would allow more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area while guaranteeing Israel's security"; that there was "a growing consensus within the administration that U.S. and Israeli policy toward Gaza must change"; that "White House officials said they had warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to use 'caution and restraint' before the raid on the aid convoy"; that Vice President Joe Biden was in favor of putting "as much pressure and as much cajoling on Israel as we can to allow [the Palestinians] to get building materials and other designated humanitarian aid into Gaza"; and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported a Security Council statement condemning the "acts" that had cost the lives of the activists aboard theMavi Marmara.
$400 Million in aid for Palestinians:
In an effort to contain the political fallout from the Mavi Marmara incident (see above), in June 2010 President Obama offered to send an extra $400 million in “humanitarian aid” to the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (This was to be above and beyond the $600+ million in aid which the U.S. was already sending to the Palestinian Authority each year.) In remarks he made during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Obama urged Israel to put a stop to its settlement activity and called on the Palestinians to avoid inciting further confrontation. He also called on Israel to reassess its blockade on Gaza, while conceding that "[t]here should be means by which we will be able to stop flow of arms that endanger Israel’s security." Added Obama: "If we can get a new conceptual framework, we should be able to take what is a tragedy [the recent flotilla incident] and create an opportunity so the lives of people of Gaza are improved. But in the long run, the way to solve this problem is creation of the Palestinian state and ensuring Israel’s security."
The Obama administration allows the Palestinian flag to fly at the PLO office in DC:On July 25, 2010, JTA News reported that "[t]he Obama administration will allow the PLO office in Washington to fly the Palestinian flag and assume the title of 'delegation'"; that this decision had "symbolic value" but had "no meaning under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations"; and that the White House "suggested the [measure] would help spur the Palestinians toward direct peace talks with Israel."
A stark contrast between Obama's holiday messages to Jews and to Muslims:
In his Rosh Hashanah message in 2010, President Obama only once referred to "Jews"; made no reference at all to "Judaism'; promoted the creation of a Palestinian state; and never mentioned the monumental contributions Jews had made to the United States.
By contrast, in his August 2010 Ramadan Message, Obama referred to "Muslims" six times and to "Islam" twice; he stated that “American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country”; and he praised “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings … a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.” Moreover, the President made no reference to what Muslims might need to do differently in order to achieve peace with Israel.
Obama criticizes Israeli settlements yet again:
On November 9, 2010, The New York Times issued the following report regarding the increasingly strained relations between the U.S. and Israel:
"President Obama’s criticism of new Israeli housing plans for East Jerusalem, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s even sharper retort, have thrown the Middle East peace talks into jeopardy, with the dispute over Jewish settlements looming as a seemingly insuperable hurdle.... [T]he brusque exchange between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu reflected again the gulf between Israel and the United States over settlements — an issue Mr. Obama initially made the centerpiece of his Middle East diplomacy....Obama and the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt:
"When asked about Israel’s plans for 1,000 housing units [in] a contested part of East Jerusalem, Mr. Obama said, 'This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.' ... A few hours later, Mr. Netanyahu’s office responded with a statement, saying that 'Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.'"
In early 2011, as masses of Egyptian protesters forced their longtime president Hosni Mubarak to step down from power, Barack Obama declared that all opposition groups in Egypt should have some representation in the country's next government. He made no mention of the fact that such a development would essentially ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood -- Egypt's largest opposition group -- would be in a position to steer the new regime toward adopting Sharia Law and increasing its hostility toward the U.S. and Israel.
Throughout the weeks of Egyptian rioting, the Obama administration repeatedly shifted its posture, initially expressing confidence in Mubarak's government, later threatening to withhold U.S. aid to that regime, and finally pressing Mubarak to loosen his grip on power. "We want to see free, fair and credible elections," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on February 2. "The sooner that can happen, the better."
Obama and his administration took the foregoing positions even though the Muslim Brotherhood had made it explicitly clear that it favored the dissolution of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel; even though the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef, had stated that his organization would never recognize Israel's legitimate right to exist; and even though Muhammad Ghannem, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, had told the Iranian news network Al-Alam that "the people [of Egypt] should be prepared for war against Israel."
On February 3, 2011, Israeli lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who until recently had been a cabinet minister, criticized President Obama for having called on Mubarak to allow open elections in Egypt, a prospect that undoubtedly would spell the end of Mubarak's long reign -- a reign which, despite all its faults, was reliablypro-West and reasonably friendly toward Israel. Stating that Obama was repeating the mistakes of predecessors whose calls for human rights and democracy in the Middle East had backfired by bringing anti-West regimes to power, Ben-Eliezersaid:
"I don't think the Americans understand yet the disaster they have pushed the Middle East into. If there are elections like the Americans want, I wouldn't be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood didn't win a majority, it would win half of the seats in parliament. It will be a new Middle East, extremist radical Islam."Three decades earlier, President Jimmy Carter had urged another staunch American ally -- the Shah of Iran -- to loosen his own grip on power, only to see the Shah's autocratic regime replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Republic. More recently, U.S.-supported elections had strengthened such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and anti-American radicals in Iran. "Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as 'the president who lost Iran,'" analyst Aluf Benn wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz. "Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who 'lost' Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled."
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu similarly warned that "if extremist forces [in Egypt] are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals -- as has happened in Iran and elsewhere -- the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy."
Obama expresses his belief that the Palestinians sincerely want peace with Israel:In a March 2011 meeting with Jewish leaders, Obama contended -- against all historical evidence -- that “Israel’s [Palestinian] partner is sincere in wanting a peaceful settlement.” Meanwhile, he asked his Jewish interlocutors to “speak to your Israeli friends and relatives and search your souls to determine how badly do you really want peace … Israelis think this peace process is overrated.”
Implying that Jerusalem is not part of Israel:
In May 2011, the Obama State Department issued a press release declaring that its No. 2 official, James Steinberg, would be visiting "Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank" -- thereby implying that Jerusalem was not part of Israel.
Obama calls for an Arab-Israeli land swap based on pre-1967 borders:
On May 19, 2011 -- just a few hours before Prime Minister Netanyahu flew from Israel to Washington -- President Obama delivered his "Arab Spring" speech at the State Department. After saying that “Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist,” he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state -- even though neither Hamas nor Fatah had ever acknowledged Israel’s right to exist; nor did Obama make such an acknowledgment a precondition of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Obama also urged Israel to understand that it would never be able to achieve genuine peace if it persisted in seeking "permanent occupation."
In issuing his call for the existence of “two states,” Obama said that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.” He was referring to the borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
Obama was not calling for a return to the 1967 borders per se; rather, he advocated the creation of a “sovereign and contiguous state” for the Palestinian Arabs -- not precisely along the 1967 lines, but along new borders "based on" those lines. But as Islam scholar Robert Spencer pointed out:
"There were ... no 1967 lines in which Palestinian Arab territory was contiguous. For the territory of Palestine to be contiguous, that of Israel will have to be substantially reduced. Israel’s 1967 borders were indefensible, and Obama is calling for Israel to be reduced even further so that a contiguous Palestinian state can be established.In response to Obama's speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that a Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967 would leave the Jewish state "indefensible." "The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel's existence," the Israeli leader said.
"What’s more, Obama specified that the new Palestinian state should have 'borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt,' while Israel should have 'borders with Palestine.' The implication was that Israel, in Obama’s vision, will border on neither Jordan nor Egypt — only on 'Palestine.' Yet currently Israel has substantial borders with both Jordan and Egypt. Obama was implying that his contiguous Palestine would comprise not just Gaza and Judea and Samaria, but large expanses of Israeli territory bordering on those two states."
Obama chooses not to make public reference to terrorism directed against Israel:
In early September 2011, the Obama administration issued talking points for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In those talking points, the administration referred to terrorism's many victims around the world, “whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.” Conspicuously absent from the President's remarks was any mention of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or Sderot, which had been hit by Islamist terrorists innumerable times