This was the very first meeting with Jewish community’s leaders. Earlier requests for an audience with major Jewish organizations had reportedly been ignored. Six months after taking office the president finally got around to issuing an invitation to stop the bleeding. Increasing numbers of Jews even among the overwhelming number who voted for Obama have been voicing serious concern about his real agenda.
The meeting, however, did not showcase the president’s trademark engagement and dialogue routine. Instead, he decided to cherry pick his Jewish audience to include pro-Obama newcomers with little support in the mainstream Jewish world, such as J Street, while blackballing the Zionist Organization of America. The oldest pro-Israel group in the United States, with a Washington office second in size only to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was not a voice Obama wanted to hear. This leaves the president willing to engage Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but not ZOA President Mort Klein.
But there is no papering over the distressing reality that emerged. The president told his listeners that he preferred putting daylight between the United States and Israel. His reported justification: “there was no light between the US and Israeli positions for the last eight years, and no progress was made.”
Evidently, unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, 21 settlements and 9,000 residents counts for nothing. The Palestinian terrorist leadership and street have refused to accept a Jewish state for the past eight years (and the previous 53) because the United States did not add sufficiently to Israel’s isolation.
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The president promoted his strategy of putting hard public “pressure” on Israel as a means to build more credibility with Arab states. He must have meant the kind of credibility that comes from his policy of leaving an “open door” to Iran after its discredited election.
Obama then claimed that the widespread perception of an anti-Israel agenda was all the media’s fault because the media is only interested in a “man-bites-dog” story. When an administration sends a US ambassador back to Syria though it is still listed as a key state sponsor of terrorism, hosts terrorist kingpins pursuing Israel’s annihilation, and was caught trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the story is far-fetched alright, but true.
The president joked that Al-Jazeera often airs pictures of him wearing a yarmulke at the Western Wall. Except the photo-op during the election campaign had been intended to fool a Jewish audience that is no longer amused.
There is no doubt that the pressure on Israel from the Obama administration is going to get a lot worse, as the President told the group “there is a narrow window of opportunity for advancing the peace process.” Everyone understood the threat. The narrow window is Obama’s self-defined political ambitions bearing no relationship to the realities of the Middle East or the welfare of either Israel or the United States.