Praise where praise is overdue: Obama on Israel

Those who follow this blog may be forgiven if they were under the impression that I am hostile to President Obama but they would be mistaken. Barack Obama was the first candidate for president for whom I ever voted with enthusiasm. If I have been critical here it is because I expect much and there are issues on which his positions or actions have been troubling.
But there is one area where he deserves special commendation and he isn’t getting enough — his policies toward Israel and Palestine.

I am a strong supporter of Israel and not that many years ago considered moving there, but ever since Nixon I have been aware of a strange phenomenon. Candidates who are touted as “good for Israel” usually aren’t. Such candidates usually encourage Israel’s worst tendencies. I won’t pretend the issues are easy but the American policy for many years of supporting (or at least turning a blind or winking eye toward) Israel’s expansion of the settlements has done Israel much harm. Resolutions of the conflicts that would have been merely difficult years ago have been greatly complicated by Israel’s constant expansion into the West Bank and around Jerusalem. It may be a form of tough love and it may be almost too late but Obama’s clear position on settlement policy is a beath of fresh air after years of stagnation. An interesting recent article on the subject can be found in Thursday’s piece by M.J. Rosenberg in the Israel Policy Forum.

So, thank you President Obama. Perhaps our children will be able to see the day when two states live in peace side by side as a result of your courage (and a lot of hard work and risk on behalf of both Israelis, Palestinians and their neighbors).


2 thoughts on “Praise where praise is overdue: Obama on Israel

  1. Ben

    Perhaps you should reconsider your position. I received this today. It only served to reinforce what I already know about Obama; that he is capable of throwing Israel under the bus in a heartbeat.

    Read on…

    The Sources of Obama’s Anti-Israel Policy
    Submitted by Bishop E. W. Jackson Sr. *

    June 16, 2009

    Like Obama, I am a graduate of Harvard Law School. I too have Muslims in my family.

    I am black, and I was once a leftist Democrat. Since our backgrounds are somewhat similar, I perceive something in Obama’s policy toward Israel which people without that background may not see.

    All my life I have witnessed a strain of anti-Semitism in the black community. It has been fueled by the rise of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan, but it predates that organization.

    We heard it in Jesse Jackson’s “HYMIE town” remark years ago during his presidential campaign.

    We heard it most recently in Jeremiah Wright’s remark about “them Jews” not allowing Obama to speak with him.

    I hear it from my own Muslim family members who see the problem in the Middle East as a “Jew” problem.

    Growing up in a small, predominantly black urban community in Pennsylvania, I heard the comments about Jewish shop owners.

    They were “greedy cheaters” who could not be trusted, according to my family and others in the neighborhood I was too young to understand what it means to be Jewish, or know that I was hearing anti-Semitism.

    These people seemed nice enough to me, but others said they were “evil”.

    Sadly, this bigotry has yet to be eradicated from the black community.

    In Chicago, the anti-Jewish sentiment among black people is even more pronounced because of the direct influence of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Most African Americans are not followers of “The Nation,”
    but many have a quiet respect for its leader because, they say, “he speaks the truth” and “stands up for the black man.”

    What they mean of course is that he viciously attacks the perceived “enemies” of the black community – white people and Jews.

    Even some self-described Christians buy into his demagoguery.

    The question is whether Obama, given his Muslim roots and experience in Farrakhan’s Chicago,
    shares this antipathy for Israel and Jewish people. Is there any evidence that he does. First,
    the President was taught for twenty years by a virulent anti-Semite, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

    In the black community it is called “sitting under.” You don’t merely attend a church,
    you “sit under” a Pastor to be taught and mentored by him. Obama “sat under” Wright for a very long time.

    He was comfortable enough with Farrakhan – Wright’s friend – to attend and help organize his “Million Man March.”

    I was on C-Span the morning of the march arguing that we must never legitimize a racist and anti-Semite, no matter what “good” he claims to be doing. Yet our future President was in the crowd giving Farrakhan his enthusiastic support.

    The classic left wing view is that Israel is the oppressive occupier, and the Palestinians are Israel’s victims.

    Obama is clearly sympathetic to this view. In speaking to the “Muslim World,” he did not address the widespread Islamic hatred of Jews. Instead he attacked Israel over the growth of West Bank settlements. Surely he knows that settlements are not the crux of the problem.

    The absolute refusal of the Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is the insurmountable obstacle.

    That’s where the pressure needs to be placed, but this President sees it differently.

    He also made the preposterous comparison of the Holocaust to Palestinian “dislocation.” Obama clearly has Muslim sensibilities. He sees the world and Israel from a Muslim perspective.

    His construct of “The Muslim World” is unique in modern diplomacy. It is said that only The Muslim Brotherhood and other radical elements of the religion use that concept. It is a call to unify Muslims around the world.

    It is rather odd to hear an American President use it. In doing so he reveals more about his thinking than he intends.

    The dramatic policy reversal of joining the unrelentingly ant-Semitic, anti-Israel and pro-Islamic UN Human Rights Council is in keeping with the President’s truest – albeit undeclared – sensibilities Those who are paying attention and thinking about these issues do not find it unreasonable to consider that President Obama is influenced by a strain of anti-Semitism picked up from the black community, his leftist friends and colleagues,his Muslim associations and his long period of mentorship under Jeremiah Wright.

    If this conclusion is accurate, Israel has some dark days ahead. For the first time in her history, she may find the President of the United States siding
    with her enemies. Those who believe as I do that Israel must be protected had better be ready for the fight. We are.


    * E.W. Jackson is Bishop of Exodus Faith Ministries, an author and retired attorney.


  2. Steve Thomas

    Leonard you’re absolutely correct. I traveled in and through Jerusalem, across the Allenby Bridge to Amman, to Kuwait to see my Daughter the Army Captain, to Cairo and back through Gaza when the borders were wide open in 2004. There was a collective sigh of relief throughout the mid-east in the months after the passing of Chairman Arafat. That’s when the Bush administration should have taken the opportunity to stop Israeli expansion in Jerusalem and should have flown at least the Secretary of State to Cairo to jump start new talks. It was a golden, tragically missed opportunity from an administration that supposedly was “good” for Israel.


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