Obama kisses up to foreign leaders who lobbied against his signature achievement

US Politics
on 12 Comments

Last night Barack Obama made an appearance at the Israeli embassy in Washington on Holocaust remembrance day in an event meant to show the unity of Israel and the United States. A few months ago, Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer lobbied against the Iran deal on Capitol Hill. No worries, mate. It was the first time a president has spoken at the Israeli embassy:

To Ambassador and Mrs. Dermer, to Nina Totenberg, our friends from the Israeli Embassy and Yad Vashem — thank you so much for hosting us today. 

So you can lobby against the President’s signature foreign policy initiative, thumb your nose at his policy on two states, and he will still kiss your behind. “[W]e stand up forcefully and proudly in defense of our ally, in defense of our friend, in defense of the Jewish State of Israel,” Obama said.

Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio was there, as was Steven Spielberg. They represent the Israel lobby’s strength: the belief on the part of an empowered generation of American Jews that Israel is a liberation story. That’s who Obama is kissing up to, a domestic constituency among the blue-state elites.

Even the New York Times coverage of the Obama appearance noted his obeisance to people who had worked against him:

Mr. Obama was welcomed warmly by Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, who, with Mr. Netanyahu, spent much of last year working to defeat the president’s highest foreign policy priority. It was the clearest sign to date that both governments are working to heal their relations.

“We know we have no better friend than the United States of America,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a video message. Addressing Mr. Obama, he added, “Your being here reflects the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States.

Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis also notes that Obama once offended Israel supporters in his Cairo speech of 2009 by saying the rationale for Israel’s creation was the Holocaust, thereby rejecting the “Zionist ideals and biblical underpinnings of Israel’s history.”

What about all the people who were offended by Obama’s deference to the lobby last night, to political forces who are supporting Palestinian persecution? Commemorating the Holocaust by reverencing Israel? As Donald Johnson writes, “The way Israel gets to link itself with resistance to the Nazis is such a part of the pro Israel narrative you have to report it, but it is free propaganda for apartheid. I’m trying to think of any other case where this would happen and am failing.”

The event was attended by officials of AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, as well as the Time Warner executive who has written speeches for Netanyahu. Jewish Insider spotted: Gary Ginsberg & Susanna Aaron, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s Bob Cohen, Likud politicianTzachi Hanegbi, Maj. Gen. Yaacov Ayish, Jeffrey Goldberg.

Speaking of using anti-Semitism to justify apartheid, here is Netanyahu saying yesterday that criticism of Israel equals anti-Semitism; and Iran is threatening another Holocaust.

We see anti-semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state. Israel is targeted with the same slurs and the same libels that were leveled against the Jewish people since time immemorial…

Even respected western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The obsession with the Jews, the fixation on the Jewish state defies any other rational explanation….

We are no longer a powerless people, begging others to offer us protection. Today we can speak out against the voices of hatred…

We have changed, and we stand and speak out and we defend ourselves. But where’s Europe? Where’s the rest of civilization?

Thanks to Peter Voskamp and Scott Roth.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

12 Responses

  1. CigarGod
    January 28, 2016, 11:09 am

    Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?

  2. hophmi
    January 28, 2016, 11:48 am

    “So you can lobby against the President’s signature foreign policy initiative, thumb your nose at his policy on two states, and he will still kiss your behind”

    Oh no. Did President Obama just undermine your sky-is-falling negativity? Did he suggest that maybe the vast majority of Democrats aren’t supportive of BDS? Boo-hoo.

    • Krauss
      January 28, 2016, 2:06 pm

      If your definition of “vast majority” is the party/media establishment, sure. Have you been reading the latest polls from Brookings? Absent a 2SS, the democratic base would favor a secular, binational state by crushing margins. This is what the Dennis Ross’ of the world fears; a wake-up among the liberal base, because they know they can’t sell Apartheid.

      This is why the 2SS will always live on, even in a comatose state, because it has to, for the sake of Jewish apartheid.

  3. Krauss
    January 28, 2016, 2:10 pm

    I don’t really understand why the Israel lobby was so nuts against Obama in his early years. He has proven himself a loyal tool of the lobby. Not a total tool like Dubya and Bill Clinton, but more or less pliant. Maybe they have become so arrogant that anything less than complete servility is now seen as hostility?

    Either way, I/P will not become an election issue until 2024. The liberal educated base have already moved on, but its still concentrated among the young. The older folks are still totally shitting their pants about upsetting their Jewish peers. Plus half of them sleep with Jewish spouses and need to keep the house peace.

    Consider it in a way like the Howard Dean movement in 2004. It took slightly over a decade for it to mature into the Sanders movement, now it’s a genuine force. It has continually forced Clinton to the left and will continue to do so as the primary process moves on. Even if Sanders will lose(which isn’t as assured as it was a few months ago), it’s clear of which direction the party base is taking.

    We saw the early rumblings of change during the 2010-2013 years on I/P, especially on campuses. Now it’s a done deal. We need to wait a decade for this to mature. As usual, you’re too optimistic, Phil. But your fundamental instinct is correct, just a matter of being wrong on timing.

  4. Krauss
    January 28, 2016, 2:26 pm

    BTW, a general comment on Obama. I believe Tavis Smiley’s criticism of Obama was basically correct. Obama did nothing for black people, which is ironic, considering how much the GOP right demonized him as somekind of Nation of Islam covert operative.

    But it’s not like Obama has been sucking up to white people either. In the end, he’s mostly comfortable among the coastal Jewish establishment. He even joked a bunch of J Street Jews were his “cabal”. He has said to Axelrod that he’s the closest thing to a Jewish president the country ever got. (Delusional, but still telling of his mindset).

    With hindsight, it shouldn’t be so strange after all. He even complained to past girlfriends that he doesn’t have a single black bone in his body. The Jewish community is still a monolithically white community, but since it is a liberal, urban and highly educated one, it is easier for Obama to fit in. And then you have the religious/ethnic minority factor.

    Even if American anti-Semitism is a fiction at this stage, which is why the ADL is all about Israel(they lose a purpose to exist otherwise), it nevertheless give some contact of reference for someone like Obama.

    He can go back to his white roots, the community he was raised in, but still seperate himself within an ethnic minority community.

    You saw this during the 2011-2012 years when the black community was devasted. Obama just kept lecturing black people to “take off their slippers” and other stuff a white republican president would never get away with. Although I’m grateful for the ACA and the less-atrocious foreign policy than would have happened under a McCain or a Romney, Obama in so many ways was never really a change candidate in the same way that Sanders is. And as many pointed out, the actual difference between him and Clinton were never really large, which is why it makes sense he has essentially endorsed her.

    • Boomer
      January 28, 2016, 8:22 pm

      Your analysis of Obama may be right. He certainly doesn’t seem to be concerned about the Palestinians, who are oppressed with U.S. support. (Note the contrast between his recent comments and Ban Ki-moon’s, as reported by Philip.) You might expect him, as an African American, to see things more from the oppressed’s perspective. Of course, he is a product of elite schools, from high school onward, not personally the victim of oppression, but he has at least rubbed shoulders with such victims, and he appealed to them for votes.

      As for timing, I think you also are being too optimistic. Based on what I read here, I would guess that the current generation of Israelis that Philip has described will need to pass from the scene before Israelis are ready to live with Palestinians as equals. And even that may be too optimistic. I don’t expect to live to see that day. But it appears that the U.S. will continue to support Israel regardless of what it does.

      • Kay24
        January 28, 2016, 9:41 pm

        Obama is a huge disappointment. The Presidents of the US have to keep pretending that Israel is working towards a 2SS while they keep killing, stealing lands, and building illegal settlements, which have been condemned by the rest of the world. There is no doubt the US is complicit in all these crimes, and even hands over the ammunition to the Israeli murderers, to kill more unarmed civilians. After all the insults, interference, and trouble making by the zionists, towards Obama and his efforts to achieve peace with Iran, it seems Obama has no hesitation kissing up to those who tried to sabotage his policies. No wonder the zionists think they control us.

  5. bryan
    January 28, 2016, 3:18 pm

    Surely anti-Semitism was never “directed against individual Jews”? At one time it was directed against a whole religion by bigoted Christians. After the Enlightenment slowly changed these modes of thought, (chiefly by undermining all religion) it was directed at supposedly powerful cliques that supposedly controlled banking, and even the entire capitalist system, or alternatively at the socialism that sought to undermine capitalism. Yet here we have Netanyahu proclaiming the power of Israel, which he foolishly equates with the Jewish people as a whole. Do we see Obama scuttling round European embassies on St. Patrick’s Day, or St. George’s Day or Bastille Day? Perhaps he should, because then he would meet friends who, for the most part, share key American values and do not dream of interfering in American electoral politics, much as we despise many of its candidates.

  6. JWalters
    January 28, 2016, 4:20 pm

    I watched the speech last night, and it was disturbing. However, from about 1:08:00 onward he drew general lessons from the Holocaust, and applied them to ALL people and religions, at 1:17:00 specifically saying “Israeli or Palestinian”.

    I saw a therapist, emphasizing how deeply and honestly he understood the patient’s fears, and laying the groundwork for some reality therapy to come.

    The disturbing thing is that even the U.S. President is so constrained by the Big Money behind the Nakba and its continuing crimes. Yes, the Holocaust was horrible. But it in no way can justify the Nakba. The fact that the Nakba is NEVER mentioned in the Establishment Media, NEVER, is solid evidence that America’s free speech is under lockdown, that America is in fact living under a tyranny so strong that even the President needs to step gingerly.

    • Boomer
      January 28, 2016, 8:35 pm

      re “the Nakba is NEVER mentioned in the Establishment Media”

      If not literally true, it is true practically speaking. Any few exceptions simply prove the rule. It would be interesting to see a study comparing the ratio of references in the MSM to the Nakba and to the Holocaust.

      During the most recent of Israel’s rampages in Gaza, Scott Pelley, on the CBS Evening News, parenthetically observed that many of the residents of Gaza were refugees who originally lived in what is now Israel. He didn’t use the word Nakba, but it was, I thought, a brave bit of honesty from him, inspired by the terror Israel was inflicting on helpless civilians.

  7. James Michie
    January 29, 2016, 8:31 am

    Could it be that this “kiss-and-make-up” meeting with Zionist Israel’s Ambassador is meant for the benefit of Barack Obama’s chosen presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton? After all, she is in an unexpected tight race with Bernie Sanders and has stated that she will be a “better friend to Israel” than anyone else. So much for that “kiss-up”–for Hillary and Zionist Israel!

    • Rusty Pipes
      January 29, 2016, 3:06 pm

      Obama is not going to endorse Hillary. Initially, his holding back may have been interpreted as giving Biden space to decide whether he would jump into the race (not only are Presidents presumed to support their vice-presidents, but Obama and Biden are close). But, if Obama has not endorsed Clinton at this point, he won’t unless the primaries are decided in her favor.

      He still may be bending over backwards to prove to establishment Dems that he is not trying to sabotage their fundraising efforts with Zionist donors. But he’s not even doing as much of that as he used to.

      Hillary has managed to strong-arm and curry favor with a lot of superdelegates to line up their endorsements as part of her strategy of appearing the inevitable candidate (thus scaring off most of her potential rivals). She left the Obama administration four years ago with good reason. Obama has been gracious in describing her service, but his perspective on their differences over foreign policy occasionally slip through.

Leave a Reply