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Like it or not, Obama is a liberal Zionist

on 30 Comments

Here is what I hear Obama saying in this interview with Jeffrey Goldberg and his speech to Adas Israel Congregation in Washington on Friday:

1.  America is not a way station on the Diaspora trail. Jewish Americans are Americans exactly like Irish Americans and Polish Americans. They bring their heritage to this land, they are fully part of this land, and we have all benefitted from it. Jewish Americans are of this land, not Eretz Israel.

2.  America has benefitted from Jewish American values. Jewish American values speak for equality and justice for all. Jewish Americans have contributed righteously to the civil rights struggle in this country. Obama says he was personally influenced by these values in his formative years, and that his policies are infused with these values today.

3.  America supports Israel because of these shared values.  America was and is not always true to our ideals. But our founding vision and documents have provided us with a guiding North star that has and is seeing us through. Jewish Americans and their values are helping us in this work. Similarly, Israel’s founding vision, as expressed in its declaration of independence is a vision America shares.  Israel’s declaration of independence states, in part:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will … foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

This commitment to a democracy that will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex … and that will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations… this is our common bond, says Obama. That is what unites us. And just as Jewish Americans have helped the United States in its struggle to live up to its founding vision, Jewish Americans–and the United States as a whole–must assist Israel to live up to its values.

4. “Implementing shared values is hard; that’s why we study,” says Obama. “It’s not just a formula you can apply,” he says.  It allows for differences of views. Obama believes the current Israeli government is not pursuing these shared values; the occupation is not living up to these values; and discrimination against Palestinian Israeli citizens is not living up to these values. We must be able to be critical, and we must be able to be critical in the open. And we must recognize that such criticism is not anti-Israel and is not anti-Semitic.

5. We must recognize the unique history that brought Israel about, and that Israel has the right to exist as a majority Jewish state in light of this history.  Israel has a right not only to exist, says Obama, but to thrive and prosper, and to be secure. This implies no right of return for Palestinians.

6. Everybody has rights and everybody is a child of God, says Obama. We must take the rights of  Palestinian children in Ramallah, Jenin, Jericho, Nabulus, Hebron, and in Gaza (to well-being, education, and opportunities) just as seriously as those of children in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona, and Be’er Sheva. The preservation of a democracy in a Jewish homeland requires a two-state-solution. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be free on their land as well, says Obama.  It is required for Israel to be what it was intended to be.

What Obama outlines in this interview and speech is a principled defense of the liberal Zionist two-state-solution that the United States has endorsed and has been advocating for the past 22 years.

In the meantime, everybody recognizes that the current Israeli polity is not on board with a two-state-solution or the founding vision that Obama champions. Here is Chemi Shalev, the Haaretz Washington correspondent:

Obama’s speech accentuated … the growing gap between the [American liberal community and the Israeli Jewish community]: One is from Venus, the other from Mars. In the eyes of most members of Netanyahu’s new coalition, American lefties, be they Jewish or African American or presidents of the United States, are even worse than Israeli lefties, and we know what they think about them.

Obama realizes this.  By clearly outlining his commitment to the Jewish state, but anchoring this support in a tradition of shared values, Obama is continuing to lay the groundwork for perhaps supporting (soon?) a United Nations resolution to force a two-state solution.

Obama repeated that Netanyahu’s open rejection of the two state-solution, and his race-baiting during the election will have consequences. What those consequences are remains to be seen.

This post appeared in a longer version on Roland Nikles’s blog.

Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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30 Responses

  1. Blownaway on May 24, 2015, 3:33 pm

    Labels in the US don’t matter. Its all pro Israel of any stripe Democrat or Republican liberal or conservative. The US is useless and has no say in the Palestinian side of the Israel/Palestine equation. Obama has failed his promise on all fronts. The institutional bias is impossible to overcome

    • Krauss on May 25, 2015, 5:22 am

      Obama’s comments are indefensible. He is supporting a Dreamcastle Israel which doesn’t not only exist – it has never existed.

      As always, he gives token lip-service to Palestinians but insists on racial purity. What a “liberal”! Are these really “shared values”? Again, the racial hypocrisy here is astounding. He would never support a white colonialist state in Africa, which was artificially created on the backs of the indigenous population.

      Obama belongs to a generation of politicians – and Clinton is of the same mold – whose personal career depends on Jewish money. That’s the blunt truth. His ascent was aided by a bunch of J Street donors. They may be more pleasant at face value than the AIPAC guys, but in the end, like all “liberal” Zionists, they support Apartheid. Just like all of them rushed to Sodastream’s defence when its exploitation of Palestinian labor was under spotlight.

      I continue to belabour this point: Obama’s foreign policy legacy will be blemished but on the Palestinian issue it will probably be the most poisonous, precisely because he can’t be too much blamed for ISIS and other stuff that happened under Dubya, but he can and did not act on Israel.

      As a nonwhite Democrat, someone who has spoken so much about race, his responsibility for this is massive.

      He’s a sellout. It’s the sad truth. In a way I am relieved: no more illusions. In with the AIPAC-tool Hillary! Accelerate BDS.

      • RockyMissouri on May 26, 2015, 1:09 pm

        I sadly agree… I am broken-hearted.

        ACCELERATE BDS..!!

  2. michelle on May 24, 2015, 4:15 pm

    the POTUS is a wave rider
    while he was elected to be a wave maker
    G-d Bless

  3. michelle on May 24, 2015, 4:21 pm

    the branch becomes a twig at the top of the tree
    the real power is at the base
    if the mana was divided fairly/equally there would be a far greater peace
    G-d Bless

  4. David Doppler on May 24, 2015, 4:59 pm

    Great piece. He’s a politician, a practitioner of the art of the possible. I disagree with those who say 2SS is all over and 1S1V1P is all that is left. 2SS never existed for many of the Israeli right wing extremists, who currently hold onto power, by the narrowest of margins. Obama is clearly campaigning to chip that margin away, until Netanyahu falls.

    I think a 2SS put together against the will of the Israeli right wing, after their power is broken, is the better answer. Chip, chip, chip . . . .

  5. Abuadam on May 24, 2015, 6:00 pm

    Mr. President, message from Malcolm X , stop being the Israeli lobby White House N…..

  6. Boomer on May 24, 2015, 7:02 pm

    You say that perhaps he will force a two state solution. That’s nice. I wonder what kind of state the Palestinians will get. I believe Mr. Netanyahu has already said that the Palestinians can have a state, with certain conditions:

    “His conditions were strict. He said the Palestinians could not form an army or control their own airspace, or sign military agreements with other states. He mentioned a Palestinian state only once and at other times talked only of areas under Palestinian control, saying the Palestinians could have their own “flag, anthem and administration”.

    * * *

    “He noted particularly the rejection of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the refusal to allow east Jerusalem to be a capital for a Palestinian state.”


    • echinococcus on May 24, 2015, 10:25 pm

      Their own flag, anthem and administration, eh? No army, no control of their own airspace, no military agreements, no this no that…
      Fact is, these have been the Zionist requests since the beginning.
      Why don’t the 2-state-agreement supporting people always preface every paragraph by that statement?

  7. Kay24 on May 24, 2015, 8:04 pm

    I have not accessed the entire article, but this one seems interesting. At least that part is right, Obama is indeed a big hypocrite, says one thing, but does another.

    “The way Obama punishes apartheid Israel, I feel like sinning
    With one hand the hypocritical president condemns Israel, and with the other he signs a deal to supply it with arms.”

  8. Citizen on May 24, 2015, 8:24 pm

    June 4, 2009
    Excerpt from Obama’s Cairo Speech:

    “At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

    Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.”

    Nearly seven years later, Israel is still building settlements, on Obama’s watch and Bibi has stated there will be no Palestinian state on his continuing watch. Obama just gave him nearly two billion dollars in military provisions merely to stop him from yelling about the Iran Deal until after it’s signed in a month or so. With promise of another free squadron of F-35s to boot; all this supplementing the usual $8.5M per day, not to mention another half billion in missile defense stuff.

    When Obama leaves office, Israel will still be making more “facts on the ground,” and, if anything, the US will be giving Israel yet more free stuff. Obama will not have had done anything at the UN to pressure Israel towards accountability. The next POTUS will do more to support Israel than even Obama has.

  9. Citizen on May 24, 2015, 10:57 pm

    Who will save Israel from itself? Check out this picture of Netanyahu’s Israel today:

    Note, the writer reluctantly draws an analogy to Hitler’s Germany in its propaganda department, control of media, education, etc.

    • ivri on May 27, 2015, 7:30 am

      Seems more appropriate to ask: Who will save the Arab world from itself? The sheer focus here on what`s wrong with Israel kind of benignly neglects the other side of the equation – but conflicts are inherently between two parties

  10. Steve Macklevore on May 25, 2015, 3:42 am

    Obama is first and foremost an excellent politician.

    He adjusts his message to meet the needs and expectations of his audience. Also, he’s mindful that to get elected in the USA, you need literally tons of money.

    A major source of this money is the American Jewish community. As a good Democratic team player, the speech (with it’s coded criticisms of Netanyahu) was about as far as Obama could go.

    Privately I suspect that Obama hates and despises Israel, and that there will be an entire chapter in his memoirs along the lines of “Gee, I wish I’d done more for those downtrodden Palestinian folks!” But as always with American leaders, the Lobby has tied him down tightly whilst in office.

    • DaBakr on May 27, 2015, 9:48 am

      there is no evidence to support you idea that Obama “hates and despises Israel”. While there is ample evidence he does not like Netanyahu and probably wanted an Israeli leader that was willing to take bolder action-therbye allowing Obama to take credit for moving the ‘supposed’ peace process forward. Its not likely that O thought that peace would come in his admin. but moving forward in the i/p conflict is a legacy better then other presidents.
      You seem to have an exaggerated idea of how much money comes from wealthy Zionist donors into the DNC. Many wealthy Jewish donors are left to far-left and surely support the DNC but other wealthy pro-Israel donors would rather be dead then contribute to a Democratic president.

      Big Insurance, Big Pharma Big Health and Big Lawyers are where the bulk of the money pours into DNC coffers. Aipac is relatively small in comparison.

      Anyway-it would be interesting to hear the evidence you have that suggests Obama “hates” Israel? As a pro-Zionist Israeli I admit thatObama is not very popular with Israelis but there is nothing to support any returned hatred by O. People may read too much into Obama’s relation to Israel. Perhaps the most obvious is the closest to the truth: He loves Israel but disagrees strongly with its policies regarding the Palestinians and its view of the geo-politics of the gulf region.* Period. And this is pretty much what the man has said.

      * and honestly-even the most cynical of Zionists, Saudis and other gulf Arabs and egyptians now must accept the deal is signed and the money will be released to Iran.** what Iran chooses to do with that money and wether it pumps it not spreading its regional aspirations with military support and expansion into other surrounding nations remains to be seen. While I personally do not think (or at least I havn’t read a good explanation of why) O and his cab. thinks this will work out in the interest in world peace there is a chance that O may be correct and his gamble pay off with will lead to a lot of huffing and puffing and ‘told-you-so’s in a few years-but if it works out-it will be worth it. If one thing the so called Arab Spring has taught is that very little is predictable in the ME except for conflict.

      ** it was never about the actual nukes that Netanyahu raved about. Nobody thats reasonably sane really thinks Iran will launch an unprovoked nuke onto Israel central (destroying Jerusalem and millions of Palestinians as well) It was always about the release of billions to Iran and how Iran will use that to increase its influence over its own back yard but also in Israels neighborhood as well. Iranians have been funding Hamas missiles for years and will most likely continue with much more vigor with released sanction funds. Netanyahu would seem foolish complaining to the UN that Israel is ‘afraid’ of Iran growing more powerful so the ‘nuke’ meme is a better way to convey the apprehension some Israelis feel. Personally I think a direct war with Iran is very unlikely.

  11. Bornajoo on May 25, 2015, 4:58 am

    “By clearly outlining his commitment to the Jewish state, but anchoring this support in a tradition of shared values, Obama is continuing to lay the groundwork for perhaps supporting (soon?) a United Nations resolution to force a two-state solution.”

    I admit that Obama had me fooled. I should have known better. Unfortunately from everything we’ve seen so far from this man, this is extremely wishful thinking.

    Once again, I’d love to be wrong!

  12. MHughes976 on May 25, 2015, 4:59 am

    I think that it will take a lot more than another UN resolution to enforce a 2ss. Obama is certainly a liberal Zionist and 2ss believer.
    We do see clearly how O-style Zionism is absolutely not based on equal rights, despite its sentimentalism over sweet little children of all races and religions. The Israeli children have the right to the protection of a sovereign state, the Palestinian children have not: this is not spelled out by O, I accept, but it is surely conveyed. The Netanyahu conditions of no defence, control of airspace (he would surely add no effective control of borders) and no alliances are not challenged.
    A State in this degree of vassalage would not really be a State, since it would by design open at every point of space and time to the violent attentions of a neighbour. In this condition it could not speak freely on the international scene, could not apply educational policies of its own choosing and could not in any serious degree dissociate itself economically from the people who constantly have them and their sweet little children under the gun. Perhaps there would be fewer checkpoints but in a sense even they could not go away. There would have, one way and another, have to be as much security as there is now against militants and malcontents. You may say that all these problems would be swept away by a wave of prosperity, but that is quite a gamble.
    I do in a sense see the point made by the Israeli hardliners. Without all these restrictions an independent Palestine would start and would continue, little by little, to erode the current Israeli military superiority and to render the much-cherished nukes useless, since you can’t use the things at close quarters. A period of calm produced by economic growth, even it really happened, would in the longer term be as dangerous as immediately fierce antagonism. It would give the Palestinians self-confidence, money to bargain with and an ever- increasing sense of entitlement to be there, ie to scorn the Zionist claim to unique rights in the Holy Land. And that is simply not compatible with Israeli security. The only acceptable Palestine is one formed of enclaves (what George Bush called Swiss cheese) which could, if there was serious trouble, be cleared.
    I would even accept the Israeli hardline claims that they have not withheld 2ss out of malice – it’s not that they positively want anyone to suffer – but out of the logic of the situation. As a long-term arrangement the 2ss is hardly possible – it is an illusion based on distance from the situation and on mere sentimentality. The short term is another matter.

    • Bornajoo on May 25, 2015, 5:37 am

      “I would even accept the Israeli hardline claims that they have not withheld 2ss out of malice – it’s not that they positively want anyone to suffer – but out of the logic of the situation”

      Couldn’t disagree more Mhughes976.

      When I spent time in israel in the late 70s, early 80s, the word Hamas did not exist. The number of ‘militants’ was small, radicalisation was not widespread. At that point israel chose expansion instead of justice and peace because they thought they could get away with it. And that policy has continued which is why we have hundreds of illegal settlements and as many as 750k settlers living in those settlements

      It was so damned obvious that these criminal and illegal actions would cause a reaction in terms of creating radicals and militants as well as irreversibly changing the facts on the ground (intentional from the start in my opinion) to totally sabotage any real chance of a 2ss

      And now, after creating these problems, they are being used as excuses to continue to deny the Palestinians their basic human rights. Incredible. In other words we have fucked these people over so badly that we simply can’t allow them to live next to us in ‘real’ freedom in a ‘real’ state because in the end they will eventually get their revenge on us and do what they’ve always wanted to do.

      I’m afraid that this is a standard zionist argument which in itself is extremely racist and derogatory; you can’t really trust them! We need to keep our boots on their throats because otherwise they’ll rise up and murder us all.

      The vast majority of Palestinians just yearn to live a normal life with dignity. I certainly believe that once they get that basic right, any radical minorities that try and sabotage that will be eventually challenged and rooted out from within.

      Their freedom and dignity is far more important than revenge. But it has to be real freedom and not just a reworked model of what we have now.

      I have no sympathy whatsoever with those hardliners.

      • bintbiba on May 25, 2015, 6:08 am

        Thank you, Bornajoo . +1 on wheels !!

        “And now, after creating these problems, they are being used as excuses to continue to deny the Palestinians their basic human rights. Incredible. In other words we have fucked these people over so badly that we simply can’t allow them to live next to us in ‘real’ freedom in a ‘real’ state because in the end they will eventually get their revenge on us and do what they’ve always wanted to do.”

        – See more at:

      • eljay on May 25, 2015, 7:16 am

        || Bornajoo @ May 25, 2015, 5:37 am ||
        || bintbiba: Thank you, Bornajoo . +1 on wheels !! ||


      • amigo on May 25, 2015, 2:39 pm

        “Their freedom and dignity is far more important than revenge. But it has to be real freedom and not just a reworked model of what we have now. “.Bornajoo.

        This is true of South Africa and Northern Ireland.The Irish government has not sued GB for one penny as a result of what Irish people suffered over centuries of British oppression and brutality.Our ancestors just got on with the business of running their own nation .I think the same can be said mostly about SA , I am not aware of Blacks running amok and carrying wholesale slaughter of White South Africans.

        But Israel,s right wing zealots and bigots have no intention of making peace with Palestinians.They never did and never will unless someone puts the appropriate pressure on them.I do not see that pressure coming from inside Israel because the Israeli Government is afraid of the Illegal Settlers.Remember Rabin.

        Economic pressure is the only way to stop Israel .Take away the money and you take away the oxygen that keeps the whole enterprise going.

      • MHughes976 on May 25, 2015, 4:45 pm

        It cannot be assumed of any rational person that (s)he will honour an agreement accepted under extreme duress and perpetuating suffering and radical unfairness.
        I didn’t say that I sympathised with the Israeli hard men: they speak for cruelty and injustice. I just think that they are right to say that there is no easy way out based on an agreement extracted from the Palestinians under extreme duress, permitting the fruits of injustice (or at least what must seem to the Palestinians to be injustice) to be enjoyed for ever and sanctifying permanent inequality of rights. Do you for your part really see this as a foundation of peace?

      • Bornajoo on May 25, 2015, 6:13 pm

        “Do you for your part really see this as a foundation of peace?”

        No. Definitely not. Anything half baked forced upon the Palestinians will never work. It will disintegrate from within and will become a failed state in no time. Only a true and just agreement could ever hope to satisfy all the various Palestinian factions

        Unless the agreement is real, full and proper it can never work. If Obama really is going to try and make this happen (which I now believe is fairy tale stuff) he simply must understand that Palestine has to be a made into a full and proper state with all the usual components along with a signed peace treaty with israel on day one. They must be free to run their own affairs and answer to no one

        Let’s put the settlement/refugee issues to one side for the moment and assume there is a way to solve those massive problems

        The Israelis continually say that any future Palestinian state has to be demilitarised. Oh, okay so what do they do when the likes of ISIS show up? Or any other potential future enemy? It means they have to rely on the Jordanians in the East, the Egyptians in the south and the Israelis everywhere else. Just this demand alone makes the whole proposition ridiculous.

        Israel and the USA cannot demand the terms. Either it has to be everything or it can’t work. And this is why the 2ss is dead because what really needs to happen will never be allowed and anything less is doomed to fail.

        What needs to happen is for the USA, the enabler of the occupation, to withdraw the veto, get out of the way and leave it to the UN. The greatest legacy Obama could ever leave behind is to stop protecting israel at the UN in order to force them to finally comply with international law.

      • just on May 25, 2015, 6:25 pm

        Great comments, Bornajoo.

        Thank you.

      • MHughes976 on May 27, 2015, 2:34 pm

        I think that difference of opinion with you guys is that I think that a Palestine able to assert itself even within narrow boundaries would slowly nibble away at Israeli power and would necessarily have the objective of reunification and increasing means to achieve it. The nukes would not be the trump they are supposed to be now. This is just the opposite of Israeli plans to nibble away at a nominally independent Palestine.

  13. Kay24 on May 25, 2015, 7:28 am

    Punishing their own for speaking the truth. Silencing those who dare to criticize their own behavior….and they call themselves a democracy.

    “How telling the truth gets an Israeli soldier thrown in jail
    Cpl. Shachar Berrin, 19, told of his personal experience of the occupation in a show for German TV, and was promptly tried and jailed by the IDF.

    What makes a country good isn’t whether it is happy or not, it’s the ethics and morality of the country. When soldiers are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people and consider other human beings as less than human, I think that seeps in, and I think that when the soldiers go home … they bring that back with them.” Those words – precise, pained, obvious – are from Cpl. Shachar Berrin, 19, a lone soldier who wears a knitted skullcap and serves as a combat soldier in the Home Front Command rescue unit in the Jordan Valley.”

  14. eljay on May 25, 2015, 7:42 am

    America has benefitted from Jewish American values.

    Which values are “Jewish American values”? And how are they different from “non-Jewish American values”?

    Jewish American values speak for equality and justice for all.

    Two problems with this statement:
    1. Jewish Americans are not the only ones whose values speak for equality and justice for all.
    2. We are told that most Jewish Americans support Jewish supremacism in/and a supremacist “Jewish State”. This indicates that:
    – Jewish American values are not consistent with equality and justice for all; and/or
    – most Jewish Americans are hypocrites.

    5. We must recognize the unique history that brought Israel about, and that Israel has the right to exist as a majority Jewish state in light of this history.

    The solution to acts of injustice and immorality suffered by Jewish and other citizens of European countries was justice, accountability and equality, universally and consistently applied.

    The solution was not a new set of acts of injustice and immorality against the indigenous population of Palestine for the purpose of establishing a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in that region.

    Israel does not have a right to exist as a supremacist “Jewish State”. No state has a right to exist as a supremacist state.

  15. just on May 25, 2015, 5:58 pm

    I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as “liberal Zionism”, except as a great example of an oxymoron.

    You are either a Zionist, or you are not.

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