In mid-July, the President gave his first interview with Israel's Channel 2 news, and he was asked to explain why he thinks he has only a single digit approval rating in Israel. He suggested that some of the animosity towards him was because his middle name is "Hussein," inferring some anti-Muslim bigotry on the part of the Israelis. Truth is, he was initially quite popular in Israel prior to his election, as July 2008 polls indicate, so the issue of Israeli religious bias against him is a non-starter. Could it possibly be that the Israelis have serious disagreements with his policies, or are we to believe that they suddenly woke up one morning, discovered his middle name was Hussein, and decided to distrust him? If the man is polling in the single digits in Israel, could it possibly be because other issues might be bothering them?
As candidate Obama, he stated unequivocally that Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of the Jewish state, yet almost from the get-go, he has demanded that East Jerusalem be the capital of a new Palestinian state.
Further, the Israelis perceive that he has a fundamentally different view of the world and world affairs, including the Arab narrative, than previous U.S. presidents, and that he is determined to change U.S. foreign policy in ways detrimental to Israel's security.
Obama's first interview as President was with Al-Arabiya TV, and his first phone call was to Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.
He pledged to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on June 3rd, 2009, that the United States would force Israel to withdraw from East Jerusalem and the entire West Bank by 2012 in exchange for King Abdullah's help in arranging for an end to the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan –- a pledge undertaking made despite the April 2004 letter of understanding between President Bush and then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- and overwhelmingly agreed to by both houses of Congress -- stating that the issue of final borders and major Jewish population centers on the West Bank (including Jerusalem) would be the subject of final status talks with the Palestinians -- as opposed to being dictated by the U.S. –- all of which implies that concessions made by Israel are to be considered permanent, but concessions made to Israel by the U.S. can be withdrawn at any time.
In Obama's Cairo speech, delivered the day after he met with King Abdullah, he failed to mention the four-thousand year Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, suggesting instead that Israel was a consolation prize given by the Europeans because of Holocaust guilt (confirming the myth pervasive in the Arab world that Israelis are merely colonial invaders with no history to the Land). Obama instead focused on his plan to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, and empathized with Palestinian suffering (which he compared to Jewish suffering under the Nazis) without making one reference to the suffering of the Israelis who have endured years of Palestinian missile attacks, and who have buried more than a thousand men, women and children who died as a result of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Obama then supported the so-called 2002 "Arab Peace Initiative," which demands that Israel return to the pre-1967 borders, give up half of Jerusalem, and permit Arab refugees and their millions of descendants to move to Israel -- effectively making Jews a minority in their own country.
Despite pledges to the contrary, Obama rejected virtually every Israeli request for U.S. weapons platforms; delayed decisions by the former Bush administration to deliver attack helicopters, air transports, and Hellfire air-to-ground missiles; imposed an embargo on equipment needed in Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor, and diverted promised bunker-buster bombs from Israel to a military base in Diego Garcia to insure that Israel would not attack Iran's nuclear facilities without his blessing –- something not likely to be given.
Obama went on to spend the past year-and-a-half dithering with Israel's arch-enemy, Iran, over inspection procedures for its nuclear weapons program (despite covert efforts to delay it through sabotage), meanwhile allowing critical deadlines to pass without any serious consequences –- this, to a regime that threatens to annihilate Israel; establish a Middle East Shiite caliphate; committed absolutely to replacing the U.S. as the new hegemon in the Middle East; and which is on the brink of achieving a nuclear bomb despite recently imposed sanctions.
The Israelis view his overtures to Iran's messianic, apocalyptic regime as not only naïve, but dangerous: it has created the perception of American weakness among our enemies and our friends. They also view it as a betrayal of the Iranian people's struggle for freedom.
They further question the wisdom of an administration determined to make terrorism a law enforcement issue, and try enemy combatants like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorists in civilian courts as opposed to military tribunals for crimes relating to a jihadist war against the West.
Obama has also been constantly coddling Syria by appointing a new U.S. ambassador to a country that not only arms Hezbollah and trains and exports terrorists to Iraq, but that also allows foreign terrorist organizations to set up shop in Damascus; snuffs out Lebanon's embryonic democratic revolution; assassinates its pro-democracy leaders, and establishes a military alliance with Iran.
It then took three visits to the White House by Israel's Prime Minister before he condescended (under pressure from Democratic Congressmen and Senators, who fear being decimated in the upcoming November elections) to "make nice" to Netanyahu after humiliating him on his previous visits.
Moreover, in the immediate aftermath of the flotilla incident, according to the Globes News Service, Netanyahu was instructed by the President's officials not to come to Washington for his scheduled visit with the President because they did not want Netanyahu to use the White House as a stage upon which to present Israel's side of the flotilla story lest it interfere with Obama's engagement efforts with the Muslim world.
The Israelis simply might not trust a man who is so concerned about political correctness that, rather than trying to delegitimize Islamic extremism by empowering moderate Islamic voices and contesting extremist narratives, he hedges or ignores the problem by issuing an internal gag order directing his Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano to refer to it as "man-caused disasters" and directing his Attorney General, Eric Holder, to skirt around the words "radical Islam" or "jihad" at a House Judiciary Committee hearing (when referring to the Fort Hood massacre, and the Christmas Day and Time's Square bombing attempts) for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities. In both in the Feb. 1, 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, "terrorism" and "violent extremism" are mentioned, but no mention is made in any context of radical Islam as a motivating factor.
When the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Extremist Lexicon listed Jewish extremism and various forms of Christian extremism as threats, the report made not one mention of any form of Muslim extremism, leaving the Israelis to ponder how the U.S. intends to defeat an enemy it is afraid to identify.
They are further concerned when the President sends U.S. generals to train and build a Palestinian army, which may very well turn their weapons against Israeli soldiers... and civilians.
Moreover, Obama has travelled to Berlin, Toronto, Paris, Ankara, Cairo and other Arab capitals, but has yet to visit Israel as President, and hesitates to do so until after November, although he was invited by Prime Minister Netanyahu on July 6th.
Obama also ended the U.S. boycott of the U.N. Human Rights Council, that has spent 95% of its time vilifying Israel, perhaps in the naïve belief that he can moderate the Council's positions -– a pipe dream, given that it is controlled by dictators, despots and tyrants whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the U.S. and the West, as well as Israel.
The President then apparently abandoned a 40-year understanding between the U.S. and Israel over maintaining Israel's ambiguity about its reported nuclear arsenal by failing to veto an Egyptian proposal last May during the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) review conference in New York –- a proposal that calls for a General Conference in September on a "nuclear-free Middle East" that is expected to single-out Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that its nuclear facilities can be exposed -- regardless of the fact that signatories like Iran, North Korea and Syria have reneged on their own NPT obligations and, in the case of North Korea, proliferated nuclear technology around the Middle East.
Israel might also fear that the President will force Israel into making nuclear concessions as part of any deal the U.S. might strike with Iran on its nuclear program, or worse, will blame Israel for rejecting such a deal when Iran goes nuclear.
When in Saudi Arabia last spring, the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia –- a greeting viewed in the Arab world as an act of fealty to the king of a nation that treats women like chattel; forbids the public practice of any religion other than Islam; permits flogging, amputations, and executions by beheading and stoning; imposes imprisonment or death on homosexuals, in accordance with strict Islamic law and has spent an estimated $100B in petro-dollars over the past 25 years spreading a radical Islamic doctrine globally–- not to mention having educated 15 of the 19 September 11th terrorists at Saudi-funded Islamist universities and madrasses in Saudi Arabia and around the world.
Obama has been constantly blaming Israel for the lack of progress in bringing peace to the Middle East, despite the fact that the Palestinians have been offered statehood by the last five Israeli Prime Ministers –- and have rejected each offer –- apart from the Palestinians' not having kept one single promise they made since the Oslo Accords, and having rejected every compromise that would have required them to accept Israel's right to exist.
Obama's chief national security advisor for counter-terrorism, John Brennan, is holding not-so-secret meetings with Hamas and Hezbollah to lay the foundations for a new policy the President is expected to initiate after the November elections (unsurprisingly) that would remove Hamas and Hezbollah from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list and open the door to an Iranian base of operations, first in Gaza, then on the West Bank.
Obama has also made an endless series of demands for more and more concessions from Israel -- demands which carry serious consequences should Israel object -- while there are never consequences or penalties for Israel's enemies when they break their commitments, such as their promises to end the incitement of hatred against Jews and Israel, or to stop promoting terrorism.
Obama even called Mahmoud Abbas on July 9th and thanked him for his "strong support," and his "commitment to peace," after Abbas had told an Arab League Summit in Libya in March: "If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor," and after Abbas stated directly to the President on his June visit to the White House: "I say in front of you, Mr. President, we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we are not doing that." Not only can ongoing incitement be viewed on www.MEMRI.org and www.pmw.org, but Abbas continues to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist, supports "armed resistance" against Israel, but he allows his Palestinian Authority (despite signed agreements in the Oslo Accords) to spew anti-Semitic blood-libels; glorify terrorism by honoring murderers as martyrs in Palestinian schools, mosques and public squares; create children's television programs that praise the religious war against Israel; use Palestinian textbooks to teach Palestinian children that Tel Aviv and Haifa are part of Palestine; have maps designed that do not even show an entity called Israel; and actively promote a boycott of Israeli goods on the West Bank. So far as Israelis are concerned, the key test of the Palestinian commitment to peace is not what Abbas and his colleagues say to Americans in English, but what they say to Palestinians in Arabic -- about Israel, about terrorism and about desiring a real peace.
To cap it off, the President made a pledge of $400M in aid, a significant part of which will be used in Hamas-controlled Gaza –- and the effect of which will be to empower Hamas; legitimize its position; assist in its recruitment and fundraising efforts; facilitate its ultimate takeover of the West Bank; and solidify its control over Gaza without regard to the fact that it's a genocidal Islamist terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction (and, unofficially, to supplanting the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank) and which serves as Iran's proxy in the Middle East.
The President may think that his single-digit approval ratings in Israel are simply because his middle name is "Hussein," but he is wrong. The Israelis have plenty of reasons to distrust the man and his promise of an "unbreakable bond" between our two countries because, from their perspective, he has been doing everything possible for the past year and a half to break that bond. His middle name could have been "Smith" and the Israelis would still distrust him because his actions have spoken louder than his words; no charm offensive or eloquence can change that perception. For them, it is the substance and the results of his policies that count, not his name; by that standard, he has come up short on the issue of trust.