President Obama was helped greatly by the many Jewish voters and supporters who supported him.

Obama’s relationship with Israel since coming to office has been troubling, to say the least, and has pushed Israel into a corner where it should not have been pushed by creating both expectations and demands that weakened Israel’s position and negotiating stance dramatically. It is true that his White House has not been friendly to the Goldstone Report, but it did join the UNHRC and has still not left despite the obvious bias against Israel exhibited there even since America’s joining. One could easily believe that the cold shoulder to Goldstone has less to do with Israel and more to do with America’s wars and ensuring that the US doesn’t support measures that could be used against the US army and political leadership.

Today, I believe, Obama has sent messages that can’t be ignored. After treating Netanyahu, the democratically elected PM of Israel, like dirt for the first several months of his tenure, Obama has possibly agreed to give Netanyahu a short evening meeting after delaying a decision to meet him for weeks. This can be contrasted with the handsome treatment accorded to Arab heads of state such as Jordan and Egypt, countries whose human rights records are objectionable on the best of days. Apparently they get plenty of face time in the middle of the day with Obama.

That, however, isn’t the real slap on the face. That would be the cancellation of Obama’s talk at the The Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly. While the reason is more than reasonable – he is attending the memorial for the murdered Fort Hood soldiers – the GA is taking place in DC over 3 days and one can’t escape the impression that Obama could have found a way to fulfill his commitment to attend, even if briefly and without giving the keynote address. Emanuel Rahm will attend instead, probably serving as pacifier to those whiny, demanding Jews an ambassador to the Jewish community.

We can be certain that Emanuel Rahm will say all the right things about this Administration’s support for Israel. He will make a few funny one-liners, including a couple of self-deprecating ones. He’ll talk about the strong bonds between the two countries and how the US is adamant about pursuing peace in the Middle East.

It won’t matter. It has been made clear that this Administration prefers dictators who control their media and have no compunction about torturing people, to the Israeli leadership; that an audience filled with members who strongly supported Obama’s presidential campaign can be treated with nonchalance. In the meantime, Hillary goes around bending knees to dictators and undemocratic regimes in the Muslim and Arab worlds with Israel as the centerpiece of her commentary. Even mild praise for Israel is rescinded and tendentious statements about illegal settlements in east Jerusalem roll off tongues as if their implications aren’t extremely troubling and meaningful. To remind the Obama Administration, east Jerusalem had no Jews living in it from 1949-1967 because that’s how the Jordanians wanted it. It is not “Arab east Jerusalem” but the part of Jerusalem that holds the virtual heart of the Jewish people. Rahm knows this, of course, but it’s time to inform his boss in great detail.

On the Jewish voter end, it is time to acknowledge what has been obvious but hard to acknowledge for months now: Obama and his Administration are often working against Israel’s best interests, against Israel’s just claims and together with those who would harm Israel in a heartbeat if they could. And let me be clear that these actions are not necessarily in America’s best interests, or they would be far more understandable.

There is no reason for the Jewish community to permanently turn away from Obama, but a strong case can be made that we probably shouldn’t be as supportive of him or the Democratic party either in the short run. Perhaps it’s time to stand on the sidelines for a while and maybe even do so for the 2010 elections. There are some elections where the Jewish vote can be the difference between victory and loss, and there are also some where Jewish fundraising is critical. Why then let ourselves be taken for granted?

The problem isn’t that the Jewish community hasn’t done enough, it’s that for the Democrats the Jewish vote and fundraising are counted on automatically. The leadership, including Jewish Administration members David Axelrod and Emanuel Rahm, knows that there’s a lot of bandwidth between their treatment of the Jewish community or Israel and the point where the Jewish Democrat-vote and even financial support is endangered. That’s a problem that actually takes away the little leverage the community has, and the treatment of the GA and Netanyahu reflect this.

Mahmoud Abbas can throw fits, act all pouty, threaten to leave and then enjoy the benefit of being courted again. Why not the Jewish community? Why not create an incentive for the Democrats to fight for the Jewish vote? Make them sweat a bit. Then, maybe, just maybe, the President will think about us differently and hopefully without taking Jewish votes or donors for granted.

About the author

themiddle

20 Comments

  • OMG – I actually agree with a Middle post.
    Can Moshiach be far behind?

    Two points:
    1) Israel is a non-issue for most Americans of Jewish descent. They are largely unaffiliated Jewishly, and have never visited Israel. Being Jewish is for them an increasingly vestigal ethnic label.

    Their religion is that True-Believing Liberalism which fervently awaits The Second Coming of Socialism. Obama’s their man, pushing an agenda that makes left-wing intellectuals’ mouths water.

    Considering that they willingly, enthusiastically vote against their own financial self-interest – it’s unrealistic to expect them to pull support based on the tenuous, distant topic of Israel.

    2) I don’t think Bibi is all that worried about the reception he will get – after all the Obama White House:

    – has shown itself to be weak, dithering, and disloyal to allies.

    – hasn’t fixed the economy.

    – has a lot of antsy congressional Dems ready to bolt (as evidenced by the incredibly close vote on Saturday). Not many people in Congress are going to go along with any anti-Israel measures.

    In short, the White House has largely emasculated itself.

    Despite their unpopularity among some American Jews, Bibi and Liberman have – like real grownups – been working carefully behind the scenes to make the best of a bad situation.

    They are building anti-terror consensus among the “little countries” that the US dissed – who are now worrying about defending themselves in a way they didn’t when the US was the “sheriff of the world”.

    The fickle US abandonment of missile defense in Europe is opening many ears to Liberman’s thoughts about Muslim terror, and Iran.

  • Wow, looks like I found someone else who wants to kill my mother because she lacks adequate health care and has congenital emphysema (as opposed to smoking-induced). What makes you think we’re voting against our best economic interests rather than for them? Yeah, Obama has disappointed me vis-a-vis Israel, but to say that McCain had my parents’ best economic interests in mind would be idiotic.

  • Interesting that one of the few (only?) leaders Obama will meet with only after preconditions are met, is the Israeli PM.

    There’s zero chance the Republicans will capture a significant share of the Jewish vote. We’ve been here over and over again. It won’t happen. Besides, there’s a signficant latent constituency for a J Street approach. I know it’s anecdotal, but I discuss politics and foreign affairs with a wide variety of Jews and gentiles, and you’ll only hear the former criticize Israel, often vituperatively.

    Unless and until Obama’s presidency fails (for domestic or other, non-Middle East-related reasons), Jewish voters will follow him, Pied Piper-like, wherever he chooses to take them.

    What should Israel do? If I were Bibi, I’d try to coopt Obama by advertising my openness to a final settlement, even privately signalling what I’d be willing to accept. The problem, I suppose, is that Taba or anything like it is anathema to Bibi and not something he’s politically able to endorse in any event.

    A strategy of simply playing 3 or 7 years of defense is dangerous for Israel, despite Bibi’s success with it thus far.

    I believe Obama is prepared to take radical, unprecedented steps toward creation of a Palestinian state.

  • Excuse me, Joshua?

    I want to kill your mother? You may wish to talk to Senator Lieberman about that, not me. All I’m proposing is that as we approach the next elections, the Jewish voters and fundraisers take a short break. By then, the senate will have voted on their health care bill and it might or might not wash with congress and might or might not go to Obama. Either way, my suggestion does not affect your mother.

    Oh, and as for voting against our best economic interests, you’ll excuse me but as Paul Krugman keeps pointing out, the Obama attempts to repair banking and the economy have been too small in size and all the waffling and catering to Republicans early on in the Administration, which is one of the key reasons the stimulus and other plans are smaller than they needed to be, is what led us here. This misjudgment by Obama is similar to his misjudgments about Iran and about how to deal with Israel and the Palestinians. When you make mistakes and you’re a politician, the best way for the public to inform you that you’re making mistakes is by withholding dollars and votes. If you do that, Josh, maybe Obama will change strategies on a number of fronts and not only will your mother get better health care, but your pocketbook will be fatter and the PM of a democratic ally of the US won’t be treated like a second rate house assistant.

  • I guess I’m killing Joshua’s mother too because I’m thoroughly against ObamaCare. Sorry Joshua. I wasn’t aware I was doing so. And I’m sorry for what you and your family are going through but it doesn’t change my position.

    For Jews to just sit on the sidelines and not do anything is a terrible idea. Jews should show the Democratic party and their anti-Semitic pals that they are thoroughly opposed to Obama’s treatment of Israel and the Jews for that matter and vote against the Dems, whether it be for Repubs, Independents, etc.

    Lastly, Paul Krugman is a liar and has spread many lies throughout his career. Only hard-core communists should listen to what that idiot preaches. He’s yet another dumb Jew.

  • Lieberman insists on speaking truth to power, Middle, for example in dismissing WH/MSM political correctness over the terror attack at Ft. Hood.

  • Morrisey:
    What should Israel do? If I were Bibi, Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขd try to coopt Obama by advertising my openness to a final settlement, even privately signalling what Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขd be willing to accept.
    – – – – – – – – –
    … which is nothing – not because Bibi finds peace agreements “anathema”, but because practically there is no one to talk to – and the Israel that elected Bibi knows this.

    Not-particularly-right-wing Israelis have seen Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, and now know that it was a game of salami-slicing for the Palis all along. Our lefie elite was wrong, the magic is gone, and behind Abbas stretches a line of ever more openly radical Islamicists.

    Any land ceded to them will be used to stage further attacks – most Israelis know this now in our bones, whether or not the settlers say “I told you so”.

    We’ve seen the maps showing the range of various missiles – and mentally calculated the striking distance from the Green Line.

    Any solution involving 2 states east of the Jordan is a non-starter for most Israelis.

    Bibi and Liberman (the Israeli one!) are laying the groundwork to move the discussion beyond the land-for-peace, 2-state framework of Oslo.

    Bibi’s demand that the Palis recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland is one example of this – a masterful gambit that cannot be challenged without coming off sounding like a racist, and underscores the Pali’s true intentions and intransigence.

    Bibi also handled the White House’s demand for a settlement freeze very nicely – bobbing and weaving like a boxer, deploying hard-liners in the coalition in a good cop/bad cop routine. Look at what Hillary wound up saying… it’s no longer a precondition.

    Bibi and Liberman have been very circumspect – sucking it up on the Gaza border instead of finishing the job Barak (the Israeli one!) left unfinished.

    Wait until after decisive action is taken on Iran. You may see less retraint from Israel after that die is cast.

  • Ben-David, I hope Israel takes decisive action on Iran, because it won’t come from this White House.

  • TM I am skipping the comments – you are right on the money.

    I just left the GA and everything you said was spot on. Rahm made his jokes, talked forever and ever about Obama’s domestic and international agenda, and then hit the middle east.

    here were they’re was no mistaking that their words and actions just do not line up.

    No matter how much he said that Israel is their BFF, it belies their actions.

    Rahm mentioned a contiguous Palistate, how great peace will be for the future, that the Palestinians need to renounce violence, and teaching hate.

    But there was ZERO incentive for them to do any of that.

    I never thought I would see the day that I agree more with Bibi than with what passes for democratic leadership.

    Also – a major National Jewish Democratic leader told me he pulled out of AIPAC.

    Yup.

    Hasnt cast his vote yet with Jstreet – but that he dropped AIPAC.

    That was the huge news.

    One might think after the speech that Rahmbo gave that two sovereign countries were discussing a peace deal, and that all that was left to do was sit and discuss things.

    Alas.

    I am very skeptical about the Obama team’s ability to make peace happen any day soon.

  • So nothing has really changed since the Samantha Powers video, the ‘throw Israel under the bus’ editorial, and the official White House picture of Obama talking to Bibi with his shoe soles to the camera except that more people are accepting reality of a radical change in attitude at the White House and ‘a pharaoh that does not know Joseph’. I don’t agree with most of what middle wrote but rather am happy that he is finally agreeing with me. Sorry for being antagonistic, but the ending is so poor: ‘let’s make the Jewish voice worth something’. Truly amazing that the administration could not care less and the main reason is that Rahm knows it too. Imaging what he is saying to the clueless goyim in the government about us. They finally have an inside man.

  • I have to agree with Josh on this one. Obama’s plans for Israel are as predictable today as they were when he insulted the Likud during his campaign. Knowing Haaretz’s penchants for rumors, I wasn’t taking it seriously when I read last week that Obama may up and declare a Palestinian state, but this is looking very likely as the days go on. I also full expect he will say out loud in a short period of time that East Jerusalem is “Arab” and “occupied.” He has already made the decisions and is just waiting for the right time to implement them. He doesn’t want to rock the boat now during this healthcare debate, but as soon as healthcare is settled, Israel is on the chopping block.

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