When it comes to tyrants who have dismantled their nation's democracies and thrown their political opponents in jail, like Hugo Chavez, President Obama hugs them with both arms. And if you're a Middle East dictator, like King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who brutally oppresses women and won't even let them drive a car, for goodness sake, the President of the United States will bow down to you (you get the same treatment if you're the Emperor of Japan). But if you're the democratically elected Prime Minister of the Middle East's only fully functioning democracy, and America's most reliable ally, the President will sic his Secretary of State on you if you don't follow everything he demands. Who does President Obama think the Israeli Prime Minister is? His poodle?
This is scandalous behavior, and over a non-incident.
Jews should be allowed to live anywhere in Jerusalem, as should Arabs. And had the Israeli government announced that it was preventing Arabs from living in any part of the Holy City that they choose, I would have written an equally scathing column criticizing that xenophobic decision.
During Obama's Presidential campaign, I was asked to serve as a national co-chair of Rabbis for Obama. I turned it down. First of all, I was amazed that the candidate wasn't going to be on any calls with the Rabbis who signed up, with the campaign saying he was too busy. Ah, so you want to just use the Rabbis and not show them basic courtesy and respect? Second and more importantly, I had a strong inkling that President Obama would treat Israel this way. Bullying them, pushing them, pressuring them, into peace deals that compromised their security.
And make no mistake about it. Splitting Jerusalem, as it had been split up until its unification during the Six-Day War, is the single gravest risk to Israel's security. Just imagine a Palestinian capitol, with Palestinian forces only miles away from Israel's Knesset and government buildings. The Palestinian Authority has very little control over its own security forces and especially its people, with huge numbers supporting Hamas over the PA. Would Israel really sign a suicide pact to put all the organs of its government within easy striking range of Palestinian rockets? Haven't we seen this happen already with Sderot and Gaza? Can anyone even imagine the consequences if Sderot became Jerusalem?
But all this is beside the point. Israel is not one of America's 50 states. It's a sovereign nation. For President Obama and Secretary Clinton to treat Israel with such disdain, and handle its elected officials as if they are naughty school children, is disgusting. I would like to see a single other example of an international leader subjected to the kind of public berating that has taken place between Hilary and Bibi over the past few days. It's beneath the office of the President and the Secretary of State.
And please don't give me the tired arguments about how much America does for Israel. America gives Egypt billions in aid each year. Yet, Obama showed Hosni Mubarak extensive courtesy when he visited Cairo, even though Mubarak is a dictator who has for decades rejected America's call for democratic reforms.
And what of Iraq? We spent hundreds of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of American casualties to liberate the Iraqis. Anyone hear a thank you from Iraqi politicians last week as they went to their second free elections since the liberation? Yet their leaders are treated with utmost respect by our government.
Mr. President. Stop treating Israel contemptuously. By putting all the burden on Israel to make peace and making no demands on the Arabs to democratize, you not only undermine America's commitment to liberty but you scuttle your own efforts at peace. War between the Arabs and Israelis has raged for six decades because the former has always sought to delegitimize and destroy the latter.
I don't see you making peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mr. President. Why do you so insist that Israel make an accord with a Palestinian Authority that cannot even control the terrorist organization Hamas?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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