The Washington Post’s report on President Obama’s failure in his dealings with Israel and the Palestinians is worth reading in its entirely. But I want to call attention to a statement by Obama that is quoted earlier in the article. As Obama was setting out on his not so excellent adventure, he met with American Jewish leaders. According to the Post, the following exchange occurred:
“If you want Israel to take risks, then its leaders must know that the United States is right next to them,” Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the president. Obama politely but firmly disagreed.
“Look at the past eight years,” he said, referring to the George W. Bush administration’s relationship with Israel. “During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.”
Obama’s response reflects either his usual dishonesty or a stunning ignorance of the previous eight years. During Bush’s second term, thanks in large part to Secretary of State Rice, there certainly was “distance” between Israel and the U.S. Moreover, under the Bush administration, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Whatever the wisdom of that withdrawal, it constitutes more gain for the Palestinians than they have obtained as a result of Obama’s flawed approach to the Middle East.
In fact, those who read the entire Post article will see Obama’s claim about the Bush years exposed as false. The Post points to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza during Bush’s presidency. And Obama himself says that his policy regarding Israeli settlements is the same as the stated policy of the Bush administration.
Given Obama’s willfully ignorant understanding of the Middle East, he was destined to make a fool of himself the minute he injected himself into this area of the world. Unfortunately, the same thing is true about many of his other foreign policy initiatives.