Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Obama, Osama and Appeasement

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidates at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s forum blasted President Obama for his policy of pressure on Israel. In particular, Mitt Romney struck a responsive chord when he said Obama was pursuing an “appeasement strategy” toward Palestinians and their supporters throughout the Arab and Muslim world by placing the onus for progress toward peace only on the Jewish state and by failing to effectively oppose Iran’s effort to obtain nuclear weapons.

The president responded today by touting one of the few foreign policy achievements of his administration: killing Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. Obama deserves credit for that, but citing the targeted killings of terrorists begs the question of his approach to Israel. While Obama has fought al- Qaeda, appeasement is the operative term to describe his approach to the Palestinians.

From his first day in office, Obama has sought to distance the United States from Israel and to heighten pressure on the Jewish state to make more concessions to the Palestinians than it already has in order to entice them to return to peace talks. He has picked fights with the Israelis over settlements and most importantly on Jerusalem, where he has done more than any of his predecessors to undermine the Jewish state’s hold on its capital. He became the first president to publicly accede to the Palestinians’ demand that the 1967 lines be the starting point for future negotiations. That his effort to tilt the diplomatic playing field in favor of the Palestinians has utterly failed to revive the peace process is just more proof that, like Obama’s “engagement” of Iran, appeasement usually fails to impress terrorists and tyrants.

It should also be mentioned that in just the last week, members of his administration have launched attacks on Israel blaming it for its isolation (Defense Secretary Leon Panetta), for anti-Semitism in Europe (Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman) and accusing it of being undemocratic and comparable to Iran (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton).

Taken collectively, these actions have shaken the U.S.-Israel alliance, prompting many supporters of Israel to question their willingness to vote for Obama next fall. But, like his Democratic apologists who respond to criticism of his policy toward Israel by discussing abortion, Obama’s only answer is to change the topic. It remains to be seen whether he will continue to get away with this kind of intentional obfuscation of the question.