There has been a noticeable shift in Jewish perceptions of President Barack Obama in recent days, with several op-eds noting his comments at the U.N. and his intention to vote against and even veto the state of Palestine proposal as being a big improvement in his relationship with Israel.
But is it really? Sure, the president said some fine words about the "historic homeland" of the Jewish nation and about the friendship between Israel and the United States being "deep and enduring," but does that connote a reawakening on his part? Could it be that President Obama is now showing a greater understanding of the Israeli narrative than he has in the past?
This is a president that benefited electorally in 2008 from a remarkable expression of support among American Jews, hauling in close to 80 percent of their votes. The excitement was palpable in the Jewish community, as a young, bright African-American ran for office, meriting support from a Jewish community that has always been in the forefront of civil-rights causes. There were some murmurs of concern, however, late in the election campaign, as the revelations crept out about Obama's strong ties with the anti-American, anti-Israel pastor Jeremiah Wright, with anti-Israel Palestinians and radical Islamic activists such as Rashid Khalidi and Khalid al-Mansour, but not enough to put a damper on his Jewish support. He wisely visited Israel as a candidate, putting a note in the Western Wall and expressing empathy with rocket-scarred Israeli communities.
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After the election, a different Obama was revealed, as he chose Cairo, Egypt and Istanbul, Turkey, for his maiden journeys overseas as president. There he proclaimed his deep reverence for what he called "the Holy Quran" and described the call to prayers from the minarets of the mosques as being "the prettiest sound" on Earth. Never mind that those loudspeakers are often used to shout out the cry of "Itbach al-Yehud," or "Kill the Jews," or that its loudspeakers from across the valley often wake up this writer's terror-victim children at 4 in the morning. Almost from Obama's swearing in, he has made it clear that his sympathies lie with the Islamic world. He has exhibited this on multiple occasions, even strangely instructing NASA's chief administrator, Charles Bolden, to engage in what the newly inaugurated president considered a highest-priority mission – "to help the Muslim nations feel good about their historic contributions to science, to math and to engineering."
Yes, this is the same president who scorned Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel on his second visit to Washington, lecturing him for, horror of horrors, allowing apartments to be built for Jews in Jerusalem, then leaving him alone in the White House, fending for his dinner. And yes, this is the same president who unceremoniously ambushed Netanyahu on a subsequent visit, calling for Israel to withdraw to its indefensible pre-1967 borders, which left-leaning former Foreign Minister Abba Eban had once poignantly referred to as "something akin to the borders of Auschwitz." The analogy was clear to all.
For the moment, we can put aside that President Obama bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia and that his apparently close connection to the Saudi royal family via notorious Islamic radicals in suits merits further investigation. We may also choose to ignore his blatant misinterpretation of the inter-Islamic infighting and the meteoric rise of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East as an Arab Spring that "will inspire us," even though the so-called Arab Spring has been anything but auspicious for Israel, as the Jewish state is threatened in this "new Middle East" as never before.
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It is an absolute contradiction and is quite disingenuous to say, as President Obama did at the U.N., that "America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring," while at the same time pressuring Israel to agree to an independent, sovereign state of Palestine in Samaria and Judea (often referred to as the West Bank) and in eastern Jerusalem. Such a Hamas-Fatah-Islamic Jihad state established in Israel's geographic/historical heartland would be a mortal threat to Israel's existence.
President Obama has begun his re-election campaign and is frantically seeking to stem the flight of Jewish voters from his camp. This president, who now is speaking soothing words to a Jewish public that has been beaten down for so long is similar to a wife-abuser who sends his spouse to the hospital, then comes back home asking for another chance. Perhaps the time has come for that proverbial wife to seriously consider seeking another spouse.
David Rubin is a former mayor of Shiloh, Israel, and founder and president of the Shiloh Israel Children's Fund. He is the author of two books, including his latest, "The Islamic Tsunami: Israel & America in the Age of Obama."