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Is Barack Obama the most pro-Israel president in history?

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Amir Mizroch, an ex-editor of the Jerusalem Post and current editor of the right-wing Israel Hayom, recently called President Obama’s UN speech “the most pro-Israel speech [he thinks] anyone has heard at that world forum for a very long time.” Of course, this stands in stark contrast to the various folk who are trying to paint Obama as an Israel-hater. If there was any doubt about where the Obama administration stands, the UN speech should prove that the president is far more concerned with the desires of the Netanyahu government than the rights of the Palestinians people (or the various ways in which Obama’s pro-Israel stance is damaging American credibility.) Could it be wrong to suppose that Obama is one of the more pro-Israel presidents in history (particularly now that election season is approaching)?

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak certainly has nothing but positive things to say with how obsessed Obama is with Israeli security. In an interview on CNN (see video here), Barak effused appreciation for the Obama administration, saying:

I should tell you honestly that the Obama administration is backing the security of Israel — for which I’m responsible in our government — in a way that could hardly be compared to any previous administration… We know that part of it is out of the generosity and the far-sightedness of American presidents including President Obama.

“In a way that could hardly be compared to any previous administration.” Is Barak saying that Obama has done more for Israeli security that any previous American administration? It certainly seems that way, much to the dismay of those who try to paint the President as an enemy of Israel – as well as those who support the right of Palestinians to have their own independent state. (This could be a planned reaction to Israeli Opposition leader Tzipi Livni’s declaration that Netanyahu’s ‘diplomatic stupidity‘ had pushed the US into a corner.)

Obama’s Israeli credentials should now be safe. He stood up in front of the world and marched back from the declarations he made just one year earlier, refused to speak about Palestinian rights, denied any mention of 1967 borders, spoke only of Israeli security and blatantly put the United States on “the wrong side of history.

Unfortunately, according to the Leverett duo, Obama’s professions of dedication to Israel at the UN will do nothing to stop those who seek to try to use the Palestine issue to unseat the president:

Obama advanced a tired argument that American and Israeli elites who have no interest in an Israeli-Palestinian settlement have put forward for at least the past 20 years: that it is up to Israelis and Palestinians, “not us”, to want and find their way to a peace agreement. Obama’s posture completely begs what should be the foremost consideration for any American President: that the United States needs a credible Middle East peace process, which actually leads to a legitimate and sustainable peace, for its own interests. Even though this is what U.S. interests require, Obama is not prepared to do it—and only because Israel, under the Netanyahu government, does not want it…

And, while Obama abjures his responsibilities as the person (nominally) in charge of American foreign policy, for politically craven reasons, he is not even reaping any political benefit from it. Is Prime Minister Netanyahu now going to start telling his American supporters to help get Obama re-elected? Will his approval ratings in Israel or among ardently pro-Israel constituencies in the United States now go up? Will Rick Perry stop running to the right of Obama on Middle East issues?

So, despite Obama’s speech, it is unlikely that the Netanyahu government will move an inch on peace with Palestine (offering negotiations while continuing to colonize Palestinian land doesn’t count) and it would be a stretch to imagine Netanyahu coming out and openly thanking Obama for his support. Moreover, the UN speech will do little to help Obama in his upcoming reelection campaign as it displayed a picture of a president who is out of touch of the will of his people, is beholden to a lobby that pushes a policy that endangers American interests, and is easily pushed around.

Obama just delivered one of the most pro-Israel speeches that the UN had seen in years. Yet how can this possibly benefit President Obama, the United States or Israel/Palestine in any way? In some ways, it seems as if President Obama is in a no-win situation. He is forever marked as hostile to Israel, no matter what he does or says. But don’t feel bad for the president, as he is leading the US, Israel and the entire Middle East further into the rabbit hole. Obama has come a long way from the man who inspired hope for a lasting peace in the region only one year ago. Indeed, Obama has evolved from a president that symbolized hope (remember that peace prize?) into perhaps the most pro-Israel president the US and world has seen.

Chris Keeler is a freelance writer who covers the Middle East at the blog Notes From a Medinah. You can follow NFAM on Twitter @onthemiddleeast or Facebook.

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14 Responses

  1. Citizen
    September 23, 2011, 9:28 am

    Well, yes Mr Keeler. That’s why he just made the cover of this hi-tempo Israeli magazine as Captain Israel (with an appropriate A on his forehead):

    All the POTUS wannabees deeply desire they get to wear that costume next (except Ron Paul); like Beiden recently said there’s no sky between US & Israel, those asked last night in Orlando (including the front runner Romney), said there’s no space between US & Israel. Perry & Bachmann are Christian fundi-Zionists at heart. Santorum’s strictly hasbara & he’s sticking to it. Cain got his less wordy hasbara on his trip to Israel.

    • Chu
      September 23, 2011, 10:13 am

      Didn’t the Israelis hate his ass for since he’s been in office?
      I smell desperation in Israel, their agenda is all mixed up.
      They should be working on repairing relations in the arab world
      and Turkey.

  2. Dan Crowther
    September 23, 2011, 9:38 am

    Great post. I hate to be the “eleven dimensional chess guy” – but something has struck me the last couple of days, since O’s speech: it’s perfectly acceptable now, to talk of his “cravenness” in cow-towing to “domestic lobbies.” Almost every article I have seen talks of this. A new development, to be sure. You can say “but, what about Tom Friedman”- and I would agree – but Obama’s speech was so confounding, it had to be explained in full. And it’s not just the media –

    I dont think Clinton would be so bold as to break down the divisions and groups in Israeli society like this before Obama’s speech.

    I dont want to claim this as Obama’s intention – but one thing I have noticed is the pattern of “Hopeful speech/claim by Obama, Obama doing a 180 and totally screwing the “hopeful” over, the “hopeful” getting really pissed off and start to take action”

    It’s Obama’s hypocrisy, ineptitude and brazen neo-liberal policies that have laid bare the full extent of elite corruption – this guy is best they have to offer.
    So, in a strange way, Obama really is a “radical” and not the “pro-israel” or “closet conservative” president we all think he is – he’s actually effectively removed the US from the issue, he’s created another vaccuum. Just like in the US and around the world, where Obama has made it crystal clear that the ruling class in the United States has nothing to offer them, prompting them to take action. What will fill the newly made vaccuum?

    • eee
      September 23, 2011, 10:01 am

      What will fill the newly made vaccuum?
      Perry or Romney. And the Democrats will hold their nose and vote for Obama.

      • Dan Crowther
        September 23, 2011, 10:47 am


        I was referring to the vaccuum created by the president in the I/P conflict. The vaccuum created by the US.

    • Charon
      September 23, 2011, 11:33 am

      Interesting Dan. The ME speech Obama delivered back in May gave me the impression that he was giving up on the US role as a mediator. One of the things he said (and repeated verbatim at AIPAC) that stuck out was “…Israel must be able to defend itself — by itself — against any threat”

      The “by itself” I took to mean as “you’re on your own” and even though it he was referring to security, in the context of what he was saying I felt he was throwing in the towel. Making Dennis Ross the ‘peace envoy’ or whatever afterwards supports this.

      His Zionist speech silenced the Ziocon Republican candidates who had bad mouthed him that same week regarding Israel. It also ticked off the Palestinians and everybody who cares about resolving the conflict. People are talking about it and asking questions. Even John Stewart brought it up. That even those in the MSM are discussing the influence of the lobby is going to make it become more well known as time goes on.

  3. seafoid
    September 23, 2011, 11:29 am

    There was a BBC (UK ) Question Time debate on the Palestinian statehood vote from last night – you can watch it here
    from about 39 minutes in.

  4. Charon
    September 23, 2011, 11:45 am

    John Stewart brought it up on the Daily Show yesterday:

    He says a few humorous things. Don’t agree with the 6,000 year dispute comment, but that seems to be something a lot of Americans believe. When I was a teen, my dad used to tell me (trying to explain it) that the two sides have been fighting for thousands of years. This conflict has only gone on for 70 or so years. 130 years at the most going back to the first aliyah. The Palestinians are not anyone’s biblical mortal enemies nor does the Crusades have anything to do with this either (well besides that conspiracy theory about real Zionists being Freemasons who are really the Templars trying to re-build the temple). The thousands of years thing is a myth.

    • MHughes976
      September 24, 2011, 3:02 am

      People are saying that Obama spoke as if the Palestinians were the occupiers – and I suppose that to those who read the Bible as a story of mortal combat that is just what they are.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    September 23, 2011, 5:58 pm

    RE: “the Obama administration is backing the security of Israel…in a way that could hardly be compared to any previous administration…” ~ Ehud Barak

    FOR INSTANCE: U.S. sold bunker-busting bombs to Israel: report ~ Agence France-Presse, 9/23/11

    (excerpt) WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama secretly authorized the sale of 55 powerful bunker-busting bombs to Israel, Newsweek magazine reported Friday.
    Israel first asked to buy deep-penetrating GBU-28 bombs in 2005, but were rebuffed by then-president George W. Bush. At the time the Pentagon had frozen joint US-Israeli defense projects, fearful that Israel was transferring advanced military technology to China, Newsweek said.
    However in 2007 Bush informed then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that the bombs would be ready for delivery in 2009 or 2010, even though the Israelis wanted them immediately.
    Obama released the bombs in 2009, the magazine reports, citing unnamed officials familiar with the still-secret decision…

    SOURCE –

  6. DICKERSON3870
    September 23, 2011, 6:16 pm

    RE: “If there was any doubt about where the Obama administration stands, the UN speech should prove that the president is far more concerned with the desires of the Netanyahu government than the rights of the Palestinians people…” ~ Keeler

    MY COMMENT: Avigdor Lieberman & Co. were very upset by Obama’s having referred to the Holocaust, etc. as justifying Israel’s existence in his June 2009 Cairo speech. For instance, see this rant by Melanie Phillips on 6/04/09. –
    I have spent a lot of time wondering why they were so upset by Obama’s referring to the Holocaust, etc. Apparently it is because the Holocaust, etc. might well justify the existence of Israel, but they fear it does not necessarily justify Israel’s absorption of “Judea and Samaria” [a/k/a the “disputed” West Bank (f/k/a the occupied West Bank)]. Consequently, they want the “Biblical narrative” used to justify Israel’s existence because they see it as being more specific to “Judea and Samaria”.
    By referring to Israel as the ‘historic homeland’ of ‘the Jewish people’, Obama has – for the settlers in the West Bank and their supporters – acknowledged that “Judea and Samaria” are a legitimate part of Israel.

  7. Patrick
    September 23, 2011, 6:19 pm

    “Is Barack Obama the most pro-Israel president in history?”

    A better question, in my opinion, would be: Is Obama the most craven, least principaled president in US history?

  8. Jeffrey Blankfort
    September 24, 2011, 1:41 am

    I predicted before his election that Obama would turn out to be one of the worst presidents in our history but he also has clearly been one of the most despicable. Reading the Newsweek article about Obama’s agreeing to send bunker busting bombs to Israel in 2009, something that Dubya had refused to do, and after both ,listening and reading his speech to the UN, it suddenly occurred to me that Israel and the Israel Lobby’s attacks on Obama have been merely a game which provided the president with the necessary cover for providing Israel not only with protection at the UN but with more sophisticated military hardware than any of his predecessors.
    In sum, he has been as much Israel’s Manchurian candidate as he has been Wall Streets.

    Before his election Obama’s social milieu was not Chicago’s black community but the city’s Jewish elite whose approval he coveted to the point that a week before the 2008 vote, Abner Mikvah, a former lawyer in the Clinton administration, predicted that Obama would be “the first Jewish president.”

    Would I have preferred McCain. At this point the answer is a loud, “Yes!” Had McCain been elected we would not have had the T-Party; the bailout of Wall Street would have been opposed by the Democrats as well as the Republican base; and we would have had a visible anti-war movement as well as an energized labor movement. Now we have neither. ABO in 2012!

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