Monday, December 12, 2011
How Is Obama's Middle East Policy Endangering Israel? Let Me Count the Ways
Note: This article lists 27 things President Barack Obama has done to damage Israel's security. You are welcome to write me with anything you think I've missed.
By Barry Rubin
Think about this: In the year 2012 the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the Middle East will be governed by radical Islamist regimes that believe in waging jihad on Israel and America, wiping Israel off the map, suppressing Christians, reducing the status of women even more than it is now, and their right as true interpreters of God's will to govern as dictators. (Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey) President Obama does not see this as a problem.
Recently a reader sent me a note from an Obama supporter responding to some of my articles. He says--like the administration--that Obama has not done a single thing to damage Israel's security. I have written this response. The other person's statements are in bold.
.--Obama did cause the Palestinians to drop their U.N. maneuver of obtaining statehood without a negotiated peace.
The PA announced they it was going to do this gambit around October 2010. Obama did nothing until almost a year later. He made no threat nor put any pressure on the PA. He had to take this stand or else veto in which case that would have been costly to him in the Arab world for sure. It is good that he did this but it was the absolute minimum, not some great concession to Israel. In other words, the Palestinian Authority broke all of its commitments to negotiate peace with Israel, the Obama Administration did nothing, blamed Israel, and after a year stopped the PA from formally wrecking everything so that we all went back to the previous situation. And this is proof of great support for Israel?
--If Obama was so anti-Israel why did he do that?
Answer above. For goodness sakes one doesn't have to be pro-Israel to stop the PA from blowing up the peace process chances forever and messing up U.S. interests. And of course this is about the only thing that Obama has done "for Israel" on a diplomatic level in three years which is why people keep citing it. Indeed, by mentioning this action by Obama his supporters in an indirect way announce how little he has done, that only the most minimal steps can be expected.
It doesn't matter whether Obama likes Israel or not but only what is his policy and the effects it has. President Richard Nixon did not like Israel but his policy very much supported Israel's security. Nor is this a matter of whether Obama doesn't like the Likud or Prime Minister Netanyahu. Nor of whether or not he visits Israel. I don't think Obama is a Muslim or an antisemite. He simply has policy beliefs that endanger Israel but also all of the moderate people in the Middle East and U.S. interests there.
Basically, the Obama Administration has taken a European-type stand. There are more Muslims than Jews so it is more important to keep the larger group happy. If the U.S. distances itself from Israel they will like America better. There will be no more September11 type incidents. Fewer people will join radical and terrorist groups and will focus more on making their countries better. They are Muslim countries so why should Islamists rule? For women to wear a veil isn't an imposition on freedom but merely a local custom. Even Hillary does it when she's there. And so on. The problem with this policy isn't that it is objectively anti-Israel for example but that it misunderstands the situation, won't work, and will make things worse.
It will not make radicals into moderates or reduce radical recruitment (quite the opposite as we see in Egypt and Tunisia). In fact, it makes radicals more powerful and popular, thus putting Israel into danger, and lots of others, too. It's as if Russian revolutionaries a century ago were occasionally waging terror attacks on America and the U.S. response was: Let them take over Russia and they'll stop bothering us. And it will be good for Poland, too!
--I do believe that the Muslim issue is not just Israel v. the rest of the world as you see it. The United States fears that Muslims around the world will look at the United States as the enemy of Islam thereby causing more terrorist attacks. By showing that the United States believes that Islam is simply another great religion of the world, Obama hopes that Islam terrorist will not strike as often. Making the American Muslims feel at home in America is a great way to forward this policy.
If this were the issue then there would be no problem. But there are different Muslims--Islamists and anti-Islamists. Obama doesn't just make gestures to Muslims--which would be fine--but to Islamists which is not only against Israel but against most Muslims.
Let me put it this way
Man 1: I want to kill you!
Man 2: Suppose I put down my gun, tell you how much I like you, and I'm no longer friends with Man 3 who is your enemy?
Man 1: I still don't like you and want to kill you but now it's easier. I know you are a coward and believe I'm certain to win. I can pick up your gun and use it against you. I am sure of success. Oh, and it will also be easier for me to kill Man 3 since I see you don't like him and thus won't defend him so well.
Let's remember what Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Badi said in October 2010 in a speech that signalled the start of the real "Arab Spring." Remember, Obama was president at that time:
The United States is “experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise....Allah said: ‘The hosts will all be routed and will turn and flee [Koran 54:45].’ This verse is a promise to the believers that they shall defeat their enemies, and [that the enemies] shall withdraw. The Companions of the Prophet received this Koranic promise in Mecca, when they were weak… and a little more than nine years [later], Allah fulfilled his promise in the Battle of Badr…. The United States cannot impose an agreement upon the Palestinians, despite all the means and power at its disposal. [It isn't even trying to do so--BR] it is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and wounded, and it is also on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan. [All] its warplanes, missiles and modern military technology were defeated by the will of the peoples, as long as [these peoples] insisted on resistance–and [this is proven by] the wars of Lebanon and Gaza."
Does this sound like a man who will be won over with kindness and concessions? Like a man who will be mellowed by power? No, he and his colleagues will be convinced by power and mass support at the voting booth that victory is near. Thus, as Brotherhood number-one ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi said to a million people in Tahrir Square: On to Jerusalem!
--Because Rubin assume[s] that every overture to Muslims is an anti-Semitic blow, you have no idea what I am talking about.
That's ridiculous and insulting and anyone who reads my work knows so. Of course, being nice to Muslims is not a zero-sum game for Israel. The problem is being nice to radical Muslims. Incidentally the Saudi and Jordanian and Gulf Arab governments plus the real democratic oppositions in Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and other countries--almost all Muslims themselves--are horrified about what the Obama administration is doing and I have had dozens of conversations to that effect with a wide variety of people.
I will add that Americans still don't understand the implications of Obama's Cairo speech. The problem was not that it was "pro-Islam" but that it was pro-Islamist and anti-Arab nationalist. He told Muslims that Islam should be their primary identity. You must understand how this came off in the Arab world. Why would, for example, the Egyptian government be horrified by a "pro-Muslim" speech? They were horrified because they understood--especially when Obama invited Muslim Brotherhood leaders--that Obama was (whether he knew it or not) challenging the whole basis of the Arab regional order.
--Your entire view that Israel is in trouble because of Obama has never been explained by Rubin. What specific policy of the current presidency is endangering Israel?
I have written about this dozens of times. The problem is that there are people who just don't want to hear. The only way they can maintain their beliefs is to pretend there is no evidence against them. But here's a list:
1. His support for the overthrow of the entire Egyptian system, thus inevitably bringing about a situation in which the Egyptians had a government dedicated to Israel's destruction and to supporting anti-Israel terrorism. He rejected State Department advice to try to limit the damage by changing the leadership and not the entire regime. The idea that the U.S. government didn't control events is correct; the idea that it couldn't and didn't influence them is nonsense....
Posted by Rubin Center at 1:03 PM