Ethics & Public Policy Center

Obama’s Attack on Israel

Published in Real Clear Politics on December 28, 2016


That Barack Obama would exit his presidency with one final betrayal of Israel is a shameful act by the most relentlessly anti-Israeli president in American history.

The particular form this betrayal took was the United States not only abstaining  from voting on an anti-Israeli U.N. resolution,  but, according to the Israelis, helping to craft and push it. (The administration has denied playing any such role, but it seems highly unlikely that Israel would make such an accusation if it couldn’t back  up the assertion.)

Resolution 2334, a reversal of decades of American policy, assists the Palestinians in their diplomatic and legal war against Israel. It allows them to avoid direct negotiations with Israel and internationalizes the conflict by supporting boycotts and sanctions against Israel. And it makes a resolution between the adversaries less, not more, likely, reinforcing Palestinian intransigence. As for how radical and offensive the resolution is, consider just this: It declares that the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian territory and that Jews living in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem are residing there illegally. (Alan Dershowitz points out that Obama placed a note in the Western Wall, which, based on the resolution, was an illegal act.)

The fact that this malicious U.N. action has the support of Barack Obama is hardly a surprise. He has expressed scathing contempt for Benjamin Netanyahu, to the point that his administration attempted to intervene  in Israel’s election in an effort to defeat the prime minister. But what is going on here goes far beyond conflicting personalities.

Obama, a man of the left, has shown time and time again anti-Israeli reflexes that are the product of deep anti-Israeli sentiments. He seems to delight in applying pressure to Israel even as he overlooks or downplays the malevolence of its enemies. (This is true of nations such as Iran and terrorist organizations including Hamas.) Obama acts publicly as though he feels more loathing toward Benjamin Netanyahu than Bashar al-Assad – and more anger toward Israel for its settlement policies than toward Syria for its mass atrocities.

It is an extraordinary moral inversion being undertaken by a lame duck U.S. president: On behalf of the United States he has directed antipathy against not only one of America’s most loyal allies but a nation that is among history’s most estimable and admirable. In a sea of tyranny, Israel is democratic, pluralistic, self-critical, and respectful of individual rights, human rights and minority rights. It is bone-weary of war and has made enormous sacrifices for peace. Yet to its critics it seems to matter not at all that Israel has repeatedly shown its willingness to sacrifice “land for peace” or that the Palestinians have repeatedly walked away from generous deals that would grant them statehood. Obama and those on the left keep pushing a tired old anti-Israeli narrative, one not rooted in reality. Distortions to truth are acceptable so long as they are done in an effort to undermine the world’s only Jewish state.

The U.N. has long been an anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic institution. What the United States has almost always done is to stand with Israel against its enemies. With the Obama presidency, the United States has joined them. It is a moment that is as squalid as it was predictable.

Peter Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Previously he worked in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

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