The Conspiracy

Obama is the best friend Israel has ever had [Decent Dissent]

Editor’s note: This post was written in response to an op-ed we recently published by Eliana Glogauer, an American Orthodox Jew currently in Israel for a gap year program. Neither her op-ed nor this response to it is anything but the opinion of their respective authors.

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House | Photo by Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States) [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House | Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Eliana Glogauer’s op-ed “Obama – Iran, not Israel, is your enemy” got me thinking, so I’d like to offer my thoughts here (read her piece first).  Toward the beginning of her op-ed, she writes:

While American college freshmen learn how to read and analyze articles about weapons and warfare, 18-year-old Israeli soldiers are trained in how to protect their families and friends. It is not fair for the rest of the world to judge Israel for doing what it takes to survive.

I agree with Eliana that there’s a huge difference between my life and those of my Israeli peers, with whom I just spent 10 days on Birthright.  But I’m frustrated with the notion that that difference prevents me from voicing my opinion on the conflict.  An analogy: I argue about Chinese trade policy, European austerity, and labor intimidation in South America.  I haven’t been to most of these countries, haven’t met peers who live there, and don’t study their societies in depth.  Yet I have strong opinions on many things that they do.

Now, when I meet someone who has real experiences with one of these countries, I try my best to be forthcoming about what I don’t understand and to learn from that person’s experiences.  But I’m not going to sit on my hands until that happens.  I’m going to try to educate myself and continue to advocate for what I believe is right.  I doubt that Eliana would be pleased if asked to govern all her other political conversations by the rules she prescribes here.

Eliana is also concerned that a) Iran is about to acquire a nuclear weapon; b) Barack Obama doesn’t care, is doing nothing to prevent it from happening, and is condemning Israel more strongly than previous presidents and c) that Israel must therefore carry out a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.  Eliana claims that the IAEA’s November 18th report [PDF] states “that Iran currently has sufficient fuel to produce four nuclear weapons.”  I can’t find this anywhere in the report.  It does make clear that the IAEA has “serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”  No one is denying that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are real or dangerous.  But the evidence suggests that we are nowhere near the ticking time bomb scenario where Iran is actually assembling nuclear weapons, much less the advanced systems capable of delivering them.

Counter to Eliana’s argument that Israel is being “raked over the coals,” President Obama has said time and time again that he will not tolerate Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.  In fact, he even recommitted to this position in his State of the Union address:

Let there be no doubt:  America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.

But Eliana’s right that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s hawkish rhetoric on Iran has faced some strong pushback.  The trouble is, that pushback has largely come from senior Israeli military and governmental officials, who believe that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities (which Eliana calls a “Jack Bauer” move that would “save the Middle East from certain destruction”) is an absolutely terrible idea.  Meir Dagan, the former head of Mossad (that would be the Jack Bauer-esque Israeli secret service that would presumably save the world in our doomsday scenario), calls an Israeli military strike on Iran “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.  He says that such a strike would give “Iran the best possible reason to continue the nuclear program.”

Furthermore, and with all due respect to Eliana, the notion that President Obama has made a personal quest out of castigating Israel for settlement activity is absolutely and completely false.  Every single U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson has had the same policy: settlements are (at best) counterproductive to the peace process and should be stopped for this reason alone, or (at worst) are illegal under international law.  So when Eliana argues:

…Obama has chosen to keep the focus on the actions of a country that is only interested in doing what it considers best for its citizens and whose actions are not currently endangering lives.

I take issue with the phrase “chosen to keep the focus,” because it implies that he’s doing something different from his predecessors.

Eliana also implies here that Israel’s actions in the occupied territories are not endangering lives.  But what about Mustafa Tamimi?  What about Jawaher Abu Rahmah?  What about the 10-year old Ahmed Moussa, killed by IDF security forces in a confrontation with protesters at the security barrier?

What about the millions of Palestinians who live under occupation every day?  Are their lives not endangered by checkpoints, raids and searches?  They are people too; their lives and well-being should at the very least be acknowledged in this discussion.

Eliana concludes:

I, for one, am glad that there is one country in our world that is willing to do what needs to be done, in order to ensure the long-term safety of the international public.

I remain entirely unconvinced that bombing an unstable country in the already volatile Middle East is really going to ensure the long-term safety of the international public.  I suspect that solving the conflict and allowing the Palestinians self-determination is the only way to really create long-term stability for Israel.  That’s why, rather than being angry at President Obama for pushing Israel to engage in peace talks (and castigating them for expanding settlements, which derail the peace process), I wish he were doing more.

I look forward to a response from Eliana.

9 Older Responses to “Obama is the best friend Israel has ever had [Decent Dissent]”

  1. Observer
    February 8, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    “That’s why, rather than being angry at President Obama for pushing Israel to engage in peace talks (and castigating them for expanding settlements, which derail the peace process), I wish he were doing more.”

    In other words, Jaeger thinks a foreign imperial power, the USA, should over-ride the judgment of the Jewish state’s duly elected representatives. That makes Mr. Jaeger not only an imperialist, but an anti-Semitic one.

  2. Harpo Jaeger
    February 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Observer: The USA does not have an imperialistic relationship with Israel. We’re a close ally and one of its largest benefactors. Allies express preferences about each others’ actions all the time. The idea that President Obama is doing something new is just wrong.
    To your accusation of anti-Semitism, pleaes note that I’m Jewish. If that doesn’t matter to you, I would point out that if you’re concerned that there’s not enough support in the Jewish community for Israel, you need look no further than yourself.

  3. C E Edwards
    February 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Today most UN member nations (excluding Russia and China) are agianst a nuclear Iran.It is pure fantisy and dangerous to believe that Iran is not close to developing that technology. You must know that Iran’s religion compels them to destroy Isreal and the rest of the world.Martyrdom is their salvation and obligation. A ticket to blissful after- life.
    Israel can not depend on Obama”s support even when it is publicly advocated.Denial is not an accurate portrayal of his feelings about Isreal. Actions speak louder than his spoken words. Many Jewish people that I know that have lived in Isreal or have family living there do do feel that Obama is naturally a good friend of Isreal. Not to be trusted.Others in The US Congress have forced him to take a more openly supportive role toward Isreal.

  4. Mat
    February 12, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Eliana also implies here that Israel’s actions in the occupied territories are not endangering lives.  But what about Mustafa Tamimi?  What about Jawaher Abu Rahmah?  What about the 10-year old Ahmed Moussa, killed by IDF security forces in a confrontation with protesters at the security barrier?”

    The bottom line is that the Israeli Government was elected and has the duty of protecting its people. To bring up a few names of people who have been hurt or killed at a border check point is poor debating. Should she list all the names of the people killed in pizzerias and malls? The leadership of the Pals. Has resulted in their current state of affairs. Ultimately no one will stand up for Israel and the Jews not in the ghettos of Russia, not in Europe in the 1930 and 1940s and not now. The problem today with the left wing anti Israel Jew (yes you are you just don’t know it) is that you have lived during the most peaceful time to be a Jew sincerely before the year 0 ad. You do not know what it is like to be persecuted for being a Jew. But unfortunately this brief calm in out long history is ending . Your great grandparents would be ashamed at your complete lack of understanding at what has come before and what you and your children are about to experience.

  5. Harpo Jaeger
    February 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Mat:
    Fair point about Israeli civilians killed in terrorist attacks – I’m not trying to minimize that, and never would. But my point stands: the notion that the occupation doesn’t endanger anyone’s life is patently false.
    …you have lived during the most peaceful time to be a Jew…
    And this fits in with your account of bombings in pizzerias and malls how? You can’t have it both ways – either we live in a period of constant danger and unabated anti-Semitism, or we live in the calmest most tranquil time in history. Frankly, I don’t think either of these is terribly accurate.

  6. Mat
    February 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Harpo

    With my reading of history in spite of the terrorism against Israelis this IS the most peace we have had as Jews. Just read history…progroms, blood libels, forced expulsions from many European lands, crusades,…….your generation does not know what it is
    Ike to live in fear of being attacked or persecuted for being a Jew. You do not understand what Israel means…….you are a citizen of the world…caring for all ….trying to forge peace when only one side really wants peace…do your remember 1947…. We wanted peace…the Arabs attacked….we have wanted peace for over 6 decades….the Arabs who left Israel in 1947 did so because they listened to their leadership…those that stayed have reaped the reward of having the highest standard of living in the middle east. If the Palestinians do not over throw their corrupt leadership who have lead them astray and left them adrift it is their own fault. Have a spring or go on suffering.

  7. Harpo Jaeger
    February 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Mat:
    I’ll leave the rest of your comment aside and focus just on this:
    If the Palestinians do not over throw their corrupt leadership who have lead them astray and left them adrift it is their own fault. Have a spring or go on suffering.
    This is victim blaming on a colossal scale. Do you really believe that citizens under what you describe as “corrupt leadership” are to blame for their suffering?

  8. Mat
    February 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    The Jews came out of the holocaust and chose life and development of their nation…not revenge! The Palestinians chose war, revenge and death for the past SIXTY YEARS….change your leadership…they have had long enough to wallow and blame……we came out of much more dire circumstances….we choose life…they choose death….it sounds simple but it is quite accurate if you think and analyze. It is always easiest to blame the Jew / Israel. By playing the blame game they will never take any responsibility for their own lot. You are condoning their behavior and in particular their inability to choose life

  9. RF
    February 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I love how the Left throws around the term “the occupation” in reference to Israel. To remind you, for right or for wrong, Israel pulled out of Gaza, expelling all the citizens of Gush Katif from their homes, where many of them grew up and where all of them had laid roots and made their lives, in the process, several years ago. There is no “occupation”. The only land that Israel occupies is that that undeniably BELONGS to the State of Israel. To say otherwise would be as ridiculous as saying that the United States is “occupying” Florida.

    What there is is tight security and border control. Why? For one thing, because any sane country controls its borders, even when their neighbours are perfectly pleasant– which Israel’s aren’t. When Barack Obama was elected president of the US, one of his first acts was to greatly increase security at the Canadian border? Why? I don’t know. Canadians never tried to throw rockets at New York, or blow themselves up on busy American streets, or otherwise murder innocent American citizens. And even then, nobody called Obama’s increased border security an instance of Apartheid– because it’s not. Nobody complained that Canadians were suffering from the increased security measures because, regardless of whether or not they were, it’s his border, too, and it’s reasonable to want extra security.

    So, too, with Israel, only a thousand times over. Palestinians ARE throwing rockets at Israeli cities, and causing explosions in crowded areas, and employing every other means available to murder innocent Israeli citizens. Is that all Palestinians? Surely not. Are some suffering from security measures? Perhaps. Would it be considered remotely sane, were Israel any other country, to NOT have very tight security in light of these circumstances? Not at all. (Frankly, were the US in Israel’s current situation, they probably would have carpet-bombed the enemy in question long before now, and still not attracted any world criticism– because, for any country other than Israel, that would be a reasonable self-defense response.)

Leave a Reply

More in The Conspiracy (427 of 1578 articles)