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The Last, Desperate Defense of Obama on Israel Just Evaporated

There is much to say about the latest Wall Street Journal report, noted earlier by our John Podhoretz, on the further deterioration of U.S.-Israel relations under President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu–and it’s worth noting that the Journal has really been owning this ongoing story lately. But there’s one aspect in particular that stands out. And that is the fact that if the basic structure of arms transfers from the U.S. to Israel is described accurately in the story–and it appears it is–the last refuge of Barack Obama’s defenders on his attitude toward Israel has evaporated.

Obama never hid his contempt for the Israeli government, its political class, or the majority of Israel’s voters. Even as a candidate in 2008 he let loose, ranting about Likud in a way that showed his lack of understanding of the basics of Israeli political life as well as his desire to push back on Israel’s supporters in the U.S. When he became president, only the most dedicated leftists were surprised when he, in entirely predictable fashion, picked silly fights with Israel and tried to collapse its elected governing coalition. (Though it can also be argued that those leftists were cheered by this course of action.)

There was always, however, one defense Obama’s fanboys in the media would fall back on: at least he is dedicated to ensuring Israel has what it needs to defend itself. This was generally thought to be a fair point, though never as compelling as they hoped it would be. After all, “Obama hasn’t abandoned Israel to a bloody genocide at the hands of its neighbors” is quite a low bar to clear. But the Journal story takes apart the idea that Obama has always had Israel’s back when the chips were down:

White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

The munitions surprise and previously unreported U.S. response added to a string of slights and arguments that have bubbled behind the scenes during the Gaza conflict, according to events related by senior American, Palestinian and Israeli officials involved.

So the essential resupply was not approved by Obama, because it didn’t have to be. It’s simply the default setting: the two countries’ defense departments have military cooperation on autopilot. But when Obama found out, he put a stop to the automatic resupply. In other words, Obama sought to downgrade the U.S.-Israel military relationship.

A general defense of Obama on Israel’s security goes something like this, from Obama’s dedicated press ally Jeffrey Goldberg: “On matters of genuine security, Obama has been a reliable ally, encouraging close military cooperation, helping maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge over its regional rivals and, most important, promising that he won’t allow Iran to cross the nuclear-weapons threshold.”

You tend to hear some variation on that theme from time to time, usually when Obama is busy picking fights with Israeli leaders. Diplomatically, he may be consistently harsh on Israel, so the thinking goes, but at least he’s absolutely committed to Israel’s security. (The Iran part of that Goldberg quote, by the way, is also up in the air, considering the president’s consistent attempts to water down or derail sanctions on Iran and his desperation for a deal that lets Iran drag out the process.)

But even that case has imploded. As the Journal explains:

On July 20, Israel’s defense ministry asked the U.S. military for a range of munitions, including 120-mm mortar shells and 40-mm illuminating rounds, which were already kept stored at a pre-positioned weapons stockpile in Israel.

The request was approved through military channels three days later but not made public. Under the terms of the deal, the Israelis used U.S. financing to pay for $3 million in tank rounds. No presidential approval or signoff by the secretary of state was required or sought, according to officials.

A U.S. defense official said the standard review process was properly followed.

Now, if that were all there was to the story, it would only partially demolish the flimsy case for Obama’s supposed dedication to Israel’s security. After all, just because Obama wasn’t involved in the resupply doesn’t mean he opposed it.

But then we come back around to the Journal story’s larger revelation, in which Obama sought to put the brakes on the process. Obama’s defenders have always had an uphill climb because the president’s diplomatic hostility is not unconnected to Israel’s security. But now we know that the president is not fully committed to Israel’s security–and, since the general process of how Israel procures ammunition goes around the president, the public is left to wonder if he ever was.

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5 Responses to “The Last, Desperate Defense of Obama on Israel Just Evaporated”

  1. E B TRAININ says:

    Obama’s Jewish supporters probably still don’t get it but it has been clear from day one!!

  2. ALLAN GRANT says:

    “…the public is left to wonder if he ever was.”

    Nope. He never was.

  3. EMILE TUBIANA says:

    What is the big deal? After all, the US is not the only country that produces weaponry. When Israel had created its own planes, the “Lavi” the US made it stop the production by offering Israel better conditions for purchasing American planes. Israel is fully capable of creating and producing its own weapons. They created the Iron Dome and various drones. Too many eggs for an omelet. Let’s say it openly, Obama and Netanyahu do not understand each other. Let’s just wait two more years, and things will work out. The US needs Israel, even if it does not want to recognize it. It needs Israel’s inventions and creative spirit.

    • A COHN says:

      If America had an ally in the Middle East that could militarily protect itself, was democratic, and would vote with America in the UN, all of the time, America would jump for joy. Well it does, Israel! Then, why is the Obama administration giving Israel such a hard time?

  4. MARTIN GRAY says:

    Resurrect the Lavi; it’s probably the equal of the F – 35 which has been plagued by cost overruns and constant mechanical breakdowns. Elbit already manufactures a superior smart bomb that can circle the target using enhanced imaging and targeting technology. Make deals with the Chinese, Indians, South Koreans, Vietnamese and Japanese for co-manufacturing rights. They pay hard cash without the need to put up with Obama’s obvious hostility towards Israel. Use some of the cash earned from gas export to build manufacturing plants in Israel for necessary equipment and ammunition required by the IDF. As long as Obama is in office and Kerry in the State Department and the EU countries are exhibiting their traditional Jew hatred, time for Israel to resurrect an alternative means of defense supply. The countries of the East will be happy to cooperate. Big markets. Same problems with Islamic terrorists and no sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood as is exhibited by the current US administration.

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