Ed Koch finds the Obami’s treatment of Israel “outrageous and a breach of trust” and concludes that the “relations will never be the same again. Humpty Dumpty has been broken and the absolute trust needed between allies is no longer there. How sad it is for the supporters of Israel who put their trust in President Obama.” Those Israel supporters who put their trust in Obama have a lot to answer for, but I do not believe that the rift between the countries is permanent or that the U.S.-Israel relationship is irretrievably damaged. Israel’s relationship with this administration may be marred, but Obama, as we have seen this week, is unique, even within his own party, in his fondness for Israel-bashing and disdain for the elected government of the Jewish state.
The overwhelming opposition of Republicans to the Obami Israel offensive suggests that its party nominee in 2012 will be genuinely and avowedly pro-Israel. An e-mail from Eric Cantor’s office this morning began — even though health care was seemingly at the top of the agenda — with this:
Yesterday, the Prime Minister from one of America’s closest and most strategic allies visited the White House. But did anyone know it? Nope. For the second time in a row, the White House apparently didn’t want the President to be seen with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Was he trying to avoid difficult questions from the press? Did he not want the photo to appear on newspapers across the world? Was he sending a message to our allies or our enemies? Surely the White House made the strategic decision to keep the meeting closed for a reason, but doesn’t feel it necessary to explain why. One thing is clear — President Obama missed an opportunity to show the world that the special relationship between Israel and the United States remains strong.
The flip side, however, is that we may regrettably be reaching the point at which there is a distinct partisan difference — despite American Jews’ unflinching loyalty to the Democratic party — on Israel policy. As the Washington Times reports, most Democrats remain obsessed with domestic issues. Daniel Levy of the leftist New America Foundation in essence concedes that Democrats really don’t care all that much about Israel: “The vast majority of American Jewish voters in November won’t be basing their vote on this spat. … A small minority [of] Jewish Democrats will raise it, and part of the Republican base will use it as one of many mobilizing vehicles, but those voters will be mobilized anyway — though, on margins, it could raise money for certain candidates.” Well, at least in 2012, voters will have a choice between Obama and a candidate sharply critical of and willing to reverse the administration’s Israel policy.
Nevertheless, we should not be so pollyannaish to believe that much of what the Obami are up to won’t have long-lasting consequences, even if a more pro-Israel president enters the White House in two and a half years. The Obami are of course reinforcing the well-known predilection of Palestinian rejectionists to hold out for more unilateral concessions. The goal of a two-state solution is therefore being undermined by the administration, which is straining so hard to champion the peace process. Even more dangerous, the administration’s behavior signals to those whose aim it is to delegitimize Israel that the U.S. might not leap to Israel’s defense. If we’ve had a plethora of Israel-bashing from international institutions lately, be prepared for more. And then let’s not forget the most permanent damage that the Obami might leave behind: a revolutionary Islamic state with nuclear weapons. That truly is irreversible, and calamitous.
The bottom line then: the U.S.-Israel relationship may recover, but not before much harm is done to Israel and ultimately to our own security. That is the price for electing the most openly anti-Israel president in history.