Is Obama's embrace of Israel a feigned sop to the Jews? If not, then why such fervent pledges of support? They can only hinder the reconciliation with an Islamic world that Obama seeks and which we so urgently need. The imminent prisoner exchange between Israel and the Hezbollah Muslim extremists in Lebanon hints at an answer.
The Israelis have agreed to swap Samir Kuntar for information on three of their soldiers who have been missing in Lebanon. The three are feared dead but Israel is committed to seeing their soldiers returned home, whether dead or alive.
Hezbollah's insistence on the release of Kuntar may offer us some insight into the reasons for Obama's defense of Israel.
On April 22, 1979, Kuntar's team piloted a rubber dinghy from south Lebanon onto the beach of Nahariya in northern Israel. Landing around midnight, they killed a policeman and then entered the home of an Israeli couple who were asleep along with two young children. They dragged the father and his four-year-old girl to the beach while the mother hid in the closet with their two-year-old daughter.
On the shore, the father was shot at close range in front of the little girl. Then, after killing him, Kuntar picked up the girl by her feet and smashed her skull against the rocks.
Meanwhile, the mother was still hiding in the crawl space above their bedroom where she had earlier taken refuge with Yael, her four-year-old. "I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe," she later wrote. "As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust." But her mother had survived, her daughter did not. "By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later," she recalled, "Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her."
In Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, an official newspaper of the same Palestinian National Authority that has been promised sovereignty in the West Bank in exchange for peace with Israel, the man who smashed the skull of a two-year old girl was declared "a beacon of light for us and for the generations to come and an authentic role model." Is it all that perplexing that Obama would support Israelis in their defense against such madness? "Just because the president misrepresents our enemies does not mean we do not have them," Obama explains. "The terrorists are at war with us," he cautions. "They kill man, woman, and child."
There are Palestinian patriots and Muslim moderates who seek true peace with Israel, and with us. There has been injustice on both sides. We must not forget our Abu Ghraibs and our Guantanamos. But as we Americans strive to overcome our faults and our failures, the man who smashed a two-year old's skull on the rocks of an Israeli beach is slated to be released into the adoring crowds of Lebanon. Yet, amid the cheers arising in Hezbollah's Beirut and the Gaza of Hamas, the sound of Obama's defense of Israel may also be heard.
Obama appears to have grasped the saddening Israeli insight into what has become a shared enemy. As Obama reminds us, "To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against."
Steve Posner's latest book is "Spiritual Delights and Delusions: How to Bridge the Gap between Spiritual Fulfillment and Emotional Realities." Visit his website at steveposner.com
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