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Chuck Hagel and the value of antithesis

Caroline Glick agrees with my thesis that if President Obama nominates Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, it will be because he wants to stick it to Israel and its American supporters. Glick also synthesizes a Hagel nomination with a Kerry nomination in a sweeping, and in my view fully justified, critique of the Obama administration’s approach to Israel:

Obama wants to hurt Israel. He does not like Israel. He is appointing anti-Israel advisors and cabinet members not despite their anti-Israel positions, but because of them.

Some commentators said that Susan Rice would be bad because she was anti-Israel and they hoped that Obama would appoint someone pro-Israel. But John Kerry is no friend of Israel. And as far as I was concerned, we would have been better off with Rice on the job.

Unlike Kerry, Rice is politically inept. . . .Can there be any doubt that Sen. Kerry will be able to play the politics of Capitol Hill far more effectively than Rice?

And what reason does anyone have to believe that Assad’s great defender will be any more supportive of Israel than Rice would have been? But with him in the driver’s seat now, instead of having a political incompetent whom no one can stand serving as the spokesman for Obama’s anti-Israel foreign policy, in Kerry we will have a competent, reasonably popular politician on the job.

Is Glick being too harsh in contending that Obama doesn’t like Israel and wants to hurt it? I don’t think so. As I pointed out recently, this is the man who spiritually followed the rabidly anti-Israel Rev. Wright; who gave a tribute to former PLO operative Rashid Khalidi so explosive that it has never seen the light of day; who has never visited Israel during his time in office, despite having been as close as thirty minutes away in Egypt, and managing to go to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq; who told Jewish leaders in July 2009 that he was deliberately adopting a policy of putting daylight between America and Israel; and who snubbed Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington DC and complained to Nicolas Sarkozy about having to deal with the Israeli prime minister.

Moreover, Glick points to the central role Obama played in enabling the Palestinians to get their non-member state status at the UN when he failed to threaten to cut off US funding to the UN in retaliation for such a vote:

Both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush issued such threats during their tenures in office and so prevented the motion from coming to a vote. Given that the Palestinians have had an automatic majority in the General Assembly since at least 1975, the only reason their status was only upgraded in 2012 is because until then, either the PLO didn’t feel like raising the issue or the US threatened to cut off its financial support to the UN if such a motion passed. This year PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas said he wanted to have a vote and Obama responded by not issuing a threat to cut off UN funding. So the Palestinians got their vote and, as expected, it passed overwhelmingly.

Seeing the upgrade as a Palestinian move is a mistake. It was a joint Palestinian-American move.

And now, in the latest manifestation of his hostility towards Israel, Obama is, at a minimum, giving serious consideration to nominating as Secretary of Defense perhaps the most anti-Israel, pro-Iran Senator in recent memory.

But Glick, in the only portion of her column with which I partially disagree, touts the power of antithesis:

Let there be no doubt, Obama will get Hagel in at Defense. And Hagel will place Israel in his crosshairs.

The only way to foil Obama’s ill intentions towards Israel even slightly is to be better at politics than he is. And he’s awfully good.

Moreover, one of his strongest advantages is that Israel’s supporters seem to have never gotten the memo. So here it is: Obama wants to fundamentally transform the US relationship with Israel.

He isn’t playing by the old rules. He doesn’t care about the so-called Israel lobby or the Jewish vote. As he sees it, to paraphrase Jim Baker, “F#&k the Jews, they voted for us anyway.”

As strange as it may sound, I am slightly relieved by Hagel’s appointment, and by my trust that Kerry will be a loyal mouthpiece of Obama’s hostility. The more “in our faces” they are with their hostility, the smaller our ability to deny their hostility or pretend that we can continue to operate as if nothing has changed. As we face four more years of Obama – and four years of Obama unplugged — the most urgent order of business for Israelis is to stop deluding ourselves in thinking that under Obama the US can be trusted.

So welcome aboard Secretary Hagel. Bring it on.

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