previous American president has had so strained a relationship with
Israel as Barack Obama. As Israeli
Ambassador Michael Oren said in 2010, “Israel’s ties with the United States are in their
worst crisis since 1975 ... a crisis of historic proportions.”
Author and scholar Dennis Prager concurred,
observers, right or left, pro-Israel or anti-Israel, would agree that
Israeli-American relations are the worst they have been in memory.” In the spring of 2011, David
Parsons, spokesman for the International
Christian Embassy Jerusalem,
“There's a traditional, special relationship between America and
Israel that Obama is basically throwing out the window in a sense.” David
Rubin, a U.S.-born Israeli author and expert on the Middle East, put
it this way:
Obama is very harmful for Israel and very dangerous for the future of
Judeo-Christian civilization.” The author and economist Thomas
that Obama's relationship with Israel had been consistent with the
president's pattern of “selling
out our allies to curry favor with our adversaries.” Political
analyst Charles Krauthammer observed
that Obama had “undermined”
as a result of either his “genuine antipathy” toward the Jewish
state or “the arrogance of a blundering amateur.”
In October 2012, Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon, chairman of Likud’s international outreach branch, said that Obama had “not been a friend of Israel,” and that the President's policies had been “catastrophic.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli populace remained jittery. According
to a 2010 poll
commissioned by The
9 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that the Obama administration is
more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian.
What is the root of these deep concerns about President Obama's relationship with Israel and his commitment to protecting the Jewish state's welfare? These questions are
explored and answered in this report, which lays out Obama's
words, actions, and key affiliations vis à vis Israel not only
during his time in the White House, but during the two decades
preceding his presidency as well.
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 with Rashid 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, the Woods 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 interviewer Amy 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!’”
In February 2008, then-U.S. Senator (and presidential candidate) Barack Obama told 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
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 address at 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 Alikhan as
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.
In early October 2009, Mogahed was interviewed on a British television program hosted 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
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
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
“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
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."
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
"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
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 Journaldescribes what happened next:
"The president launched an unprecedented weeks-long offensive against Israel. Mr. Biden very publicly departed Israel.
"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."
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."
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 euphemistically referred 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 the Mavi 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
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
"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.'"
Obama and the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt:
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
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 reliably pro-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-Eliezer said:
"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
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
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
"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."
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
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.
Moral equivalence regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict:
On November 2, 2011, the Obama administration sharply criticized Israel’s decision to accelerate construction of Israeli housing in various communities in and around Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank. The apartments that PM Benjamin Netanyahu sought to build would not be
on Palestinian land, but rather in suburbs or even neighborhoods of
Jerusalem, none of which were on the agenda for land swaps in a peace
The administration also had some harsh words about Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmud Abbas’ renewal of efforts to wrest recognition for his “Palestinian State” from the UN Security Council, in which endeavor he may have made some progress with UNESCO's October vote to accept “Palestine” as a member. It is important to recall that Mr. Abbas’ maneuvers in the UN were actually part of the PA’s political and propaganda war against Israel, which, as Abbas had told the world back in May 2011, would not stop once the UN recognized the state of “Palestine,” but rather would be ratcheted up for a more effective assault against Israel.
Yet the White House and State Department used identical language to express the President’s disappointment with both Netanyahu and Abbas. The State Department spokesperson went on to chastise Netanyahu for Israel’s temporary suspension of the transfer of millions of tax dollars that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.
By using the same language for both Israel’s housing construction and Abbas’ diplomatic saber rattling, Obama created a moral equivalence between Israel's efforts to accommodate its own population growth, and the PA's efforts to ultimately destroy that population. Further, by demanding that Israel continue to lavish the PA with millions of dollars, the State Department was promoting the absurd notion that the PA leadership and its partners (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc.) would use that money for state-building and economic development.
Israel scholar David Meir-Levi placed the Obama administration's positions in context:
"Dozens of Arab terrorist organizations, includingHamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, the DFLP, the PFLP-GC, Fatah, the PLO, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Ansar al-Islam, Jayyish Allah, Sayyif al-Jihad, al-Jama’a al-Islamiyeh, el-Qaeda and others, all unabashedly proclaim their intentions to destroy Israel, a close, loyal and strong ally of America. In the context of that commitment to Israel’s destruction, they also emphasize their intention to exile or murder all of Israel’s Jews....
"The endless Arab diatribe of destruction and relentless rhetoric of annihilation (thoroughly documented during decades of Arab hate-speech and hate-preach here and here) have gone on unimpeded and unabashed, broadcast throughout much of the Arab and Muslim world since before the creation of the State of Israel. And Arab deeds have matched their words for almost seventy-five years, with equally relentless terrorism punctuated by full-scale wars when Arab leaders thought they would easily win.
"Countless times, Arab confrontation states and their terrorist proxies have violated international law, the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, with terror attacks on Israeli women and children, mistreatment, torture and slaughter of Israeli prisoners, and incitement to genocide.
"On the other hand, every action by Israel to seek a peaceful resolution, thirty one attempts since 1937, has been rebuffed by the Arab side with war or terrorism or vociferous threats of the same....
"One should not have much trouble recognizing the moral differences between the two parties in the Arab-Israel conflict. But our State Department wants Israel to provide the PA with millions of dollars, even as the PA continues its incitement and rejects every invitation to negotiate a peaceful settlement, even as the PA’s partner, Hamas, continues shooting qassam rockets into Israeli schools, synagogues, busses and homes."
Obama is caught on live microphone, blasting Israeli PM Netanyahu:
On November 3, 2011, President Obama conducted what he thought was a private conversation
about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with French President
Nicolas Sarkozy in the aftermath of a G20 summit. However, the
microphones which the two men were wearing from their earlier press
conference had not been turned off. What ensued was a major public
embarrassment after both Obama and Sarkozy disparaged Netanyahu. In the exchange, Sarkozy
told Obama: “I cannot stand him [Netanyahu]. He is a liar.” Obama
replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every
Obama administration reveals Israel's secret relationship with Azerbaijan:
In March 2012, Foreign Policy magazine reported that "several high-level sources" in the Obama administration had made public information regarding Israel's secret relationship with Azerbaijan, where Israeli planes would be able to refuel on their way to or from an air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. Those Obama sources revealed this information because the administration feared "the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran" and thus sought to undermine such a measure. As Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell puts it, "This leak was one of the historic and unconscionable betrayals of an ally whose very existence is threatened."
Obama Overrides Congress to Fund the Palestinian Authority:
On April 28, 2012, Andrew McCarthy reported that President Obama had decided to waive the Palestinian
Accountability Act's freeze on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA). That freeze had been imposed after PA president
Mahmoud Abbas attempted, in September 2011, to unilaterally declare Palestinian statehood -- in violation of the PA’s treaty commitments. This move by Obama would provide $192 million to the PA. Wrote McCarthy:
"White House spinmeister Tommy Vietor stated that President Obama made
the decision to pour American taxpayer dollars into Palestinian coffers
in order to ensure 'the continued viability of the moderate PA
government.' He added the claim that, as the report puts it, 'the PA had
fulfilled all its major obligations, such as recognizing Israel’s right
to exist, renouncing violence and accepting the Road Map for Peace.'
"In the real world,
the very immoderate PA has reneged on all its commitments. In addition
to violating its obligations by unilaterally declaring statehood, the PA
has also agreed to form a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist
organization that is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The PA continues to endorse terrorism against Israel as 'resistance.'
Moreover, the PA most certainly does not recognize Israel’s right to
exist. Back in November, for example, Adil Sadeq, a PA official writing
in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, declared that ... 'this state [Israel], based on a fabricated [Zionist]
enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist…'"
State Department official refuses to identify Jerusalem as the undispiuted capital of Israel:
In June 2012, Obama State
Department official Victoria Nuland refused to say that Jerusalem, which had been the capital of Israel since 1967, was even a part of Israel. When asked whether it was "the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel," she replied: "You know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed ….
With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent-status issue. It’s
got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties."
A follow-up question was: "Is it the view of the United States that Jerusalem
is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the
embassy -- the location of the U.S. embassy?" Nuland replied: "We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem."
"[This] position actually undercuts Israel’s ability to
negotiate. Land-for-peace negotiations have been a dismal failure -- the
last twenty years have proved that the Oslo strategy of appeasement was
destined for disaster from the start. But if land-for-peace were going to work, as Los Angeles Jewish Journal publisher
David Suissa has pointed out, the Arabs would have to see Israel as
making valuable concessions, not disowning territory to which they never
had a right....
"Leaving aside the practicalities of why the United States should
acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is the moral
imperative here. Israel’s legitimacy did not spring from a UN resolution
(rejected by the Arabs, accepted by the Jews); it did not come from the
British Mandate (which allowed settlements throughout Israel, Judea and
Samaria, and even Jordan). It came from the Jews’ eternal ties to the
land of Israel. If Jerusalem is not a part of Israel, neither is Haifa
or Tel Aviv.
"And yet the State Department maintains that Jerusalem isn’t a
part of Israel. Which means that, effectively speaking, Israel has no
claim to any part of the land. If Israel is a creation of the UN, it can
be uncreated; if Israel is a holdover of colonial British
administration, the left’s hatred of colonialism demands Israel’s
"President Obama seems to buy into this. That’s why in Cairo, he
suggested that Israel had been created because of the Holocaust -- a
leftist and Arabist conceit that implies that Israel’s creation is
artificial, a pity party for the Jews."
White House spokesman Jay Carney likewise refuses to identify Jerusalem as the undispiuted capital of Israel:
At a July 26, 2012 press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to state directly which city is the capital of Israel. In response to a female reporter's question asking whether the Obama administration considered Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to be Israel’s capital, Carney replied, haltingly: "I haven’t had that question in a while. Our position has not changed." The reporter then repeated, "What’s the capital?" Carney responded, "You know our position." The exchange grew more tense when World Net Daily’s Lester Kinsolving, who was also in attendance, interjected: "She doesn’t know, that’s why she asked…she does not know, she just said she doesn’t know — I don’t know! ... Tel Aviv or Jerusalem? ... Could you just give us an answer ...?" Carney, however, would not elaborate any further. "You know the answer ... Our position hasn’t changed," he repeated again. For video of this exchange, click here.
Pro-Israel language is removed from the Democratic Party platform:
Several pro-Israel sections of the 2008 Democratic Party platform have been removed from the 2012 platform—on Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Hamas. The new platform represents another shift by the Obama Democrats toward the Palestinian position on key issues in the peace process.
For Jerusalem, the new platform has been brought into line with the Obama administration’s policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and supporting its division. Jerusalem is unmentioned in the 2012 document, whereas the 2008 and 2004 Democratic Party platforms declared “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel…It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.” The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem has been a point of significant controversy in recent months.
On the issue of Palestinian refugees, the new document has removed language from the 2004 and 2008 platforms specifying that Palestinian “refugees” should be settled in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel.
The 2004 platform: “The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”
The 2008 platform: The peace process “should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel.”
The 2012 platform contains no language on the matter.
Previously, Obama has incorporated the Palestinian positions on Jerusalem and borders into his administration’s policies. It appears that with his party’s new platform, he is also doing so with refugees.
Gone as well is the language from 2008 on the terrorist group Hamas, which currently controls the Gaza Strip. That platform declared, “The United States and its Quartet partners should continue to isolate Hamas until it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and abides by past agreements.”
The 2012 platform contains no mention of Hamas.
Previous platforms also contained promises to maintain Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region. The 2008 platform, for example, spoke of a “commitment which requires us to ensure that Israel retains a qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense.” The 2012 platform mentions only that “[t]he administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region,” with no commitment to doing so in the future.
Democrats reinstate mentions of Israel and God in party platform, after public outcry:
September 5, 2012, following much public criticism of the fact that the
Democratic Party platform had failed to identify Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel, Democrats amended
the platform to restore the reference to Jerusalem. Party
delegates meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, approved the
amendment after three voice votes and over the objections of many
people on the convention floor. The passage of the amendments required a
two-thirds majority. But each of the three voice votes seemed to
indicate that the two sides were about evenly split, perhaps even that
those opposed to the amendment outnumbered those in favor. The lack of a
clear two-thirds majority was what caused the Democratic Convention
chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to call for the second
and third voice votes. In each instance, it was clear that a two-thirds
majority did not exist. Nonetheless, following the third voice vote
Villaraigosa announced that the amendment had been passed. (Click here for video of the vote.)
Obama administration refuses to draw "red line" on Iran:
In response to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement that the
U.S. would set no deadlines for negotiations with the Iranian government regarding its nuclear ambitions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the following on September 11, 2012: "The world tells Israel: ‘Wait. There’s still time.’ And I say: ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."
Obama says he will not meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in New York:
On September 11, 2012, the White House announced that President Obama would not be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the latter's visit to New York later in the month for the UN General Assembly session. According to an official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu's office had sent the White House a message stating that the Prime Minister would be willing to travel to the Washington, DC to meet with Obama, so as to accommodate the President's schedule. However, said the official, the White House had rejected the request and had indicated that Obama's schedule would not allow for a meeting. On the same day Obama indicated that he would not be meeting with Netanyahu, he announced that he would be appearing on the late-night David Letterman Show the following week. At the time, concerns about Iran's nuclear-weapons ambitions were at an all-time high.
Obama excludes Israel from counterterrorism group:
Recently, a high-level conference on the Victims of Terrorism was held in Madrid. The sponsoring organization, the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) is the brainchild of the Obama administration and one of its “signature initiatives” on counterterrorism. Its purported purpose is to increase global cooperation in fighting terrorism worldwide. Yet, despite Israel’s interest in joining the alliance, the GCTF, under the leadership of the Obama administration, has excluded Israel from all participation.
The GCTF is intended to “provide a multilateral platform to identify civilian counterterrorism needs, mobilize the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and to enhance global cooperation,” according to its website. Its mission is to help countries defend themselves against threats within their borders and to deny terrorist groups new recruits. However, the forum is applying none of this to Israel, America’s closest friend and ally in the fight against terrorism.
Israel fought hard to become involved with the GCTF. Nevertheless, it was precluded from joining as a founding member, and it has been denied the opportunity to attend or participate in any of its three conferences held thus far. Obama administration officials even have omitted Israel from mention during conference speeches when listing countries affected by terrorism. It’s as though Israel is nonexistent....
A glimpse into the forum’s membership might provide insight into the reason for its rejection of Israel. The GCTF is co-chaired by the United States and Turkey. It has 29 members, 11 of them also members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt.
Reports indicate that the United States excluded Israel in capitulation to Turkey, which also recently pushed to keep Israel out of NATO. Apparently, the Obama administration has decided to turn a blind eye to the fact that Turkey supports Hamas, a state-designated terrorist organization that seeks to wipe Israel off the map.
Indeed, the OIC countries are united in their hatred of Israel and share a common vision of a world where Israel does not exist. In fact, all of the countries subscribe to the 1999 OIC Convention on Combating International Terrorism. This document states that armed struggle against “foreign occupation, aggression, colonialism and hegemony, aimed at liberation and self-determination shall not be considered a terrorist crime.” The OIC’s definition of terrorism is aimed at exempting terrorism against Israel and recasting it as “resistance” or “liberation.” Not surprisingly, all member countries support both Hamas and Hezbollah.
The OIC countries are also the reason the United Nations has been unsuccessful in achieving an anti-terrorism convention. The 56 OIC member countries refuse to define terrorism in any way that provides protection to Israel, instead legitimizing terrorism against it....
After Barack Obama's November 2012 re-election as U.S. President, Likud Party member Danny Danon, deputy speaker of Israel’s Knesset, said the following: “Obama’s victory demonstrates that the state of Israel must take care of its own interests. We cannot rely on anyone but ourselves. Obama has hurt the United States by his naïve leadership in foreign policy, which prefers the Arab world over the Western world, along with Israel. The state of Israel will not capitulate before Obama. ”
Hamas and Syria Step up Attacks against Israel Shortly after Obama Re-election:
On November 6, 2012, Barack Obama was re-elected as U.S. President. Four days later, Hamas began a new wave of rocket attacks on Israel’s southern cities in a new wave. The day after that, Syria began shelling Israeli positions in the north. And on November 13, the Palestinian Authority announced its plan to make another bid for statehood at the United Nations.
Administration Criticizes Israel's Dealings with Palestinians:
at a forum at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC
on December 7, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “... I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis,
or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes
hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the
Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the
pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out,
within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can
Clinton also criticized
Israel’s newly announced plan to build 3,000 new housing units in east
Jerusalem and the West Bank: “In light of today’s announcement, let me
reiterate that this administration — like previous administrations — has
been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of
a negotiated peace.”
Obama Says Israeli Settlement Policies Are Leading Towards “Near-Total Isolation”:
January 2013, President Obama stated
that Israel's expansion of settlements
was driving the Jewish state towards “near-total isolation,”
adding: “Israel doesn’t know what its own interests are.”
response to those remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said: “No one decides for the citizens of Israel. I think that
President Obama knows that the ones determining Israel’s vital
interests are the citizens of Israel, and they will be the ones to
choose who will protect those interests in the best possible way.”
Former Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas said the following about Obama's remarks: "Barack Obama said, simply and clearly, what he thinks about Israel's prime minister and where he is leading Israel. These are grave, alarming statements, which are without precedent."
Obama Alludes to the "Legitimate Frustration" of Palestinians:
In March 2013, President Obama expressed his personal frustration over the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. According to one source, he said: "The only people more frustrated than me [are the] Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza—it’s a legitimate frustration."
Obama says Palestinians "deserve a state of their own":
During his March 2013 visit to Israel, President Obama said: “I’ve been clear with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli leadership. We do not consider continued [Israeli] settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace.” He added that the Palestinians deserved an end to Israeli “occupation” and the “daily indignities that come with it.” And he declared that the “Palestinians deserve a state of their own.”
Obama pressures Israel to apologize to Turkey
Before departing Israel for Jordan on the last leg of his March 2013 trip to the Middle East, President Obama arranged for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to submit to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's demand for an apology regarding the deaths of eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American citizen resulting from Israel’s interdiction of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was part of an anti-Israel activist flotilla attempting to break Israel’s lawful naval blockade of Gaza in 2010. Israel also agreed to pay several million dollars in compensation to the victims’ families.
“In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors,” said an Israeli government statement issued following the apology, “Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.” In reality, the violence was instigated entirely by several dozen Turkish jihadis aboard the Mavi Marmara, who refused to allow Israel to inspect their Gaza-bound cargo.
Prime Minister Erdogan accepted the Israeli apology on behalf of the Turkish nation. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Netanyahu’s apology, and his offer of compensation and to further ease restrictions along the Gaza border with Israel, satisfied all of Turkey’s demands. Erdogan himself, in a call to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, reportedly delivered the message that Israel had acceded to his conditions.
But Erdogan did not wait long to draw back from his reciprocal promises to restore normal diplomatic relations and put an end to the legal proceedings against the Israeli soldiers who took part in the 2010 operation (which Ergodan himself helped precipitate) involving the Mavi Mamara. Just a day after receiving Netanyahu’s apology, Erdogan told Turkish reporters that it was too early to talk about dropping the Mavi Marmara case against the Israeli soldiers, and that normalizing diplomatic relations would come gradually. “We will see what will be put into practice during the process. If they move forward in a promising way, we will make our contribution. Then, there would be an exchange of ambassadors,” Erdogan said.
Moreover, Erdogan failed to offer any apology of his own for his recent speech at a United Nations-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations conference in Vienna, where he equated Zionism with fascism and characterized Jews’ quest for their own nation in their historic homeland as a “crime against humanity.” In fact, just days before Netanyahu’s apology, Erdogan had declared that he stood by his remarks in Vienna, although he claimed they had been misunderstood.
Secret Negotiations with Iran: Israel Is Outraged
early November 2013, it was reported
that the Obama
administration had begun softening U.S. sanctions against Iran (vis a vis the latter's
nuclear program) soon after the election, five months earlier, of that country's new
president, Hassan Rouhani. This move set the stage, in turn, for the United States -- in conjunction with Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- to propose
a short-term “first
step agreement” with
a November meeting in Geneva. The deal, which sought to
freeze Iran’s nuclear program for approximately six months in order
to create an opportunity for a more comprehensive and lasting bargain to
be negotiated, included four
key provisions, as outlined by the London Telegraph:
Iran would stop enriching uranium to the 20 per cent level that is
close to weapons-grade – and turn its existing stockpile of this
material into harmless oxide.
Iran would continue enrichment to the 3.5 per cent purity needed for
nuclear power stations – but agree to limit the number of
centrifuges being used for this purpose. There would, however, be no
requirement to remove or disable any other centrifuges.
Iran would agree not to activate its plutonium reactor at Arak, which
could provide another route to a nuclear weapons capability, during
the six-month period. Iran may, however, continue working on the
Iran would agree not to use its more advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which
can enrich uranium between three and five times faster than the older
return,” said the Telegraph,
“America would ease
sanctions, possibly by releasing some Iranian foreign exchange
reserves currently held in frozen accounts. In addition, some
restrictions affecting Iran’s petrochemical, motor and precious
metals industries could be relaxed.”
November 8, 2013, the Israeli government, which the Obama administration had not informed of the negotiations, was stunned to learn
of the seemingly imminent deal with Iran. According to The
DailyBeast.com, news of the agreement led to the canceling
of a joint media appearance between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, “and prompted,
instead, a bitter exchange between them before Kerry headed off to
the Swiss city” to take part in the multinational talks.
Israeli official was quoted
saying that “the Americans capitulated to Iranian
maneuvering.... Kerry wants a deal at all costs and the Iranians are
leading the Americans by the nose.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu, outraged at the prospect of this agreement with Iran, said: "I understand that the Iranians are walking around
very satisfied in Geneva, as well they should be, because they got
everything, and paid nothing, they wanted. They wanted relief from
sanctions after years of a gruelling sanctions regime.” Added
“The deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is
a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take
apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is
relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran
gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And
this is when Iran is under severe pressure. I urge Secretary Kerry
not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But
this is a bad deal--a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a
century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and
the international community."
"Israel utterly rejects it [the deal]," Netanyahu emphasized, "and what
I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they
express that publicly.... Israel
is not obliged by this agreement and Israel will do everything it
needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people."
When Iran ultimately broke off negotiations on November 10,
office issued a press
the weekend I spoke with President Obama, with [Russian] President Putin, with
[French] President Hollande, with [German] Chancellor Merkel and with British Prime
Minister Cameron. I told them that according to all the information
reaching Israel, the impending deal is bad and dangerous.
is not only dangerous to us; it is dangerous for them, too. It is
dangerous for the peace of the world because in one fell swoop it
lowers the pressure of the sanctions which took years to build, and
conversely, Iran essentially preserves its nuclear uranium enrichment
capabilities as well as the ability to advance on the plutonium
asked all the leaders what the rush is. And I suggested that they
wait…. It is good that this was ultimately the choice that was made
but I am not fooling myself—there is a strong desire to strike a
A number of days later, the U.S.—along
France, Russia, China, and Germany—resumed negotiations with Iran.
And on November 24th an interim agreement
was reached, wherein Iran agreed
that for six months it would:
place a 5% ceiling on its uranium
reduce to 7,000 kilograms the amount of
already-enriched uranium in its possession;
allow the International
Atomic Energy Agency to conduct daily inspections of acknowledged
enrichment sites in Natanz and Fordo; and
suspend all work on its
unfinished plutonium plant in Arak.
exchange, the U.S. and its bargaining partners assured Iran that
for the same six-month period:
United Nations and the European Union would impose no new sanctions
related to Iran's nuclear program, and would cease efforts to further limit Iran’s oil exports;
on insurance services for transport to Iran would be suspended, along
with additional restrictions on the sale of gold and other valuables;
new “financial channel” would permit Iran to access banking
services for “humanitarian commerce”—e.g., the import of food,
pharmaceuticals, and medical treatments;
U.S. sanctions would be suspended; and
would allow the sale of some spare parts for Iran’s Boeing
gave Russia, a staunch ally of Iran, the right to oversee whatever future actions the
Western powers might wish to take regarding Iran.
Moreover, the deal kept sensitive sites such as the Iranian military base at
Parchin, where researchers were busy weaponizing enriched uranium,
off-limits to inpectors. And the same immunity from inspections would
apply also to any new nuclear sites that Iran might open up subsequent to
the signing of the accord.
By John Kerry's telling: “The deal is the beginning and first step. It leads us
into the negotiation—so that we guarantee that while we are
negotiating for the dismantling, while we are negotiating for the
tougher positions, they will not grow their program and their
capacity to threaten Israel. Israel will actually gain a larger
breathing space in terms of the breakout capacity of Iran. It’s
Obama was equally optimistic, saying
the agreement would ensure that “Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon”—an
assertion that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described as “a
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was deeply disturbed by news of the
agreement with Iran. The day after the deal had been finalized, he
was agreed last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a
historic mistake. Today the world has become a much more dangerous
place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a
significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the
Netanyahu lamented that for the first time, the world's leading
powers had agreed to permit uranium enrichment in Iran while
suspending effective sanctions -- in exchange for merely “cosmetic Iranian
concessions that are possible to do away with in a matter of weeks.”
Declaring, further, that “Iran is committed to Israel’s destruction,”
Netanyahu emphasized that his country “has the right and the obligation
to defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” and thus “is
bound by this agreement.” “It becomes [increasingly] clear,” he added, “how bad and dangerous the agreement is
to the world, the region and Israel.”
Israeli Foreign Minister
Avigdor Liberman, who likewise condemned the accord, said:
“We are in a new reality that is different from yesterday, and it
requires us to reevaluate the situation with good judgment,
responsibly and with determination. We will do what we must and will
not hesitate for a minute—and there is no need to add another
Yet another Israeli official stated
that his government was particulary upset by the fact that the
U.S. had not even informed Israel that the negotiations were taking place.