Obama and Netanyahu: Children of enemies

By Gina Loudon

When you compare the psychology of President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and figure into the formula their paternal histories, behaviors of the two men and the politics of the day start to make a lot of sense.

The impact of socialist policies and feminism are manifest in our national security policy and on the international political stage. The exodus of fathers from the home has far more impact than the average citizen may realize.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America, one-third of the children in America today, live in father-absent homes. Ninety percent of parents surveyed in America recognize this is a crisis, and yet national and international policy continue to perpetuate the problem, with little end in sight.

President Obama is affected by “father loss,” as we call it in my field, because his father left him as a baby and he longed his entire life for his return, and approval (“Dreams from My Father”). Even the very title of his book, “Dreams from My Father,” tells a story of a child damaged and forever impacted by a father who rejected him. Obama openly discusses his drive to continue his dead father’s legacy in his book.

Psychoanalysts have long studied the impact typical of boys in Obama’s situation. One analyst contends that a boy whose father has died forms a grandiose idea of him and strongly calls upon himself to replace the parent who has been thus idealized. But other theorists recognize that the rejection of the father while he was alive, coupled with the subsequent death and idealization of his image, evokes a powerful insecurity and emotional reconciliation that can continue through the lifespan of the child, and even stunt his emotional development. The child in that scenario can end up spending most of his life in a pattern of trying to reconcile that rejection throughout their lives, even long after the death of the father.

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Obama’s protective attitude toward Islam, the faith of his father before he became an atheist, as well as his lack of a clear “American first” strategy of Reagan or Bush in international conflicts, is a logical extension of his father’s anti-colonialist Third World view of the U.S. This leaves Obama like a boat without a rudder, because he has found himself the leader of the very country his father hated. That is a huge internal conflict: How do you simultaneously love a country enough to govern it, while still hoping to win the love, even posthumously, of a father you need?

In a pre-presidential speech, he spoke about his father’s religious roots. “I was not raised in a particularly religious household, as undoubtedly many in the audience were. My father, who returned to Kenya when I was just two, was born a Muslim but as an adult became an atheist.”

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Netanyahu is psychologically affected by the life and death of both his father and older brother. The Israeli prime minister’s father was very strong and firm, a very traditional Jewish father. This gives him a sense of security and confidence in his own strategies, beliefs and decisions. His father was a noted academic scholar who had a clear sense of vision.

At his 100th birthday celebration, Benjamin told of his father’s remarkable ability to understand history and human psychology when he said his father predicted the Nazi Holocaust with astounding accuracy.

“This same prescience, led my father to say decades ago that the threat to world peace would come from those parts of the Muslim world where oil, terror and nuclear energy mix. It also led him to say to me, in the early 1990s, that Muslim extremists would try to bring down the Twin Towers in New York – a prediction I included in one of my books.”

But Netanyahu’s drive is even further engrained by another experience in his life, the tragic loss of his brother, Jonathan, or Yoni. Yoni loved America and Israel and was killed protecting freedom. He died a hero, as an Israeli commando during the storied “Raid on Entebbe airport” that extricated over 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers on an Air France jet. The jet was taken hostage by Palestinian and German terrorists and is the event that the prime minister himself says most changed his life.

Thus, this Obama-Netanyahu cold war is extremely personal to both of these men. Perhaps without knowing it, both men are acting very predictably from a policological perspective. Even my husband, who loved his father while rejecting his father’s faith, Christian science, served for 14 years as the lawmaker most reliable to lobbyists for the faith in his Capitol. These are powerful drives.

Netanyahu’s father loved America; Obama’s hated it. This makes for a whole kaleidoscope of psychological factors at play with two leaders who are forced together like feuding exes at a wedding. The irony here is that the legacy of Obama’s father is against the very country he has been elected to protect. The legacy of Netanyahu’s father is to love the freedoms and strength of the country that his political adversary is leading.

The developmental psychology of these two men also explains their own approaches to leadership, in addition to orientation. Obama seeks love and approval from many, and he is more likely to be vulnerable to the opinions of those around him, since he still longs for a father figure and the guidance he did not have in his childhood. He feels a deficit since the first man who was supposed to love him simply didn’t.

Netanyahu cares very little about who likes him. He is secure in his own strategy and leadership since he had a strong and loving father. Netanyahu is motivated by his own security, confidence and a sense of justice. Obama is motivated by his own insecurity, a lack of confidence and a need for approval. Thus, Netanyahu easily makes decisions based on conviction and leads decisively. Obama distrusts his own instincts, feels insecure about his ability to make good decisions and reacts often by overreacting.

For example, in Netanyahu’s speech last week that Obama boycotted, he said, “The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.” Congress erupted in applause. Then he continued, “We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.”

He clarified, “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.” Netanyahu then took a shot at the U.S. president by pointing to his weakness. He indicated that, despite Obama’s refusal to act to stop Iran, he knows that the heart of America does not leave Israel alone in this fight. He said he knows that “America stands with Israel.”

Then, in a historic moment, he gazed across the chamber at a statue of Moses, who delivered God’s law to the Jews in the Bible. He pointed to that legacy that inspired the Founders of America, and quoted, “Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.” The body leapt to its feet. His father’s legacy in the prime minister was clear.

Compare that decisiveness to Obama. His reactive governance has resulted in extraordinarily low approval from the American public. Americans surveyed much prefer the strength of Netanyahu versus the weakness of Obama. Frustrated Americans point to his many executive orders enacted before he had really considered the consequences (Obamacare, backlash on amnesty, etc.), and also the fact that he is scrambling to create a legacy in the lame-duck phase of his presidency. He has numerous failed policies and seems to be almost panicked at this phase of his presidency, grasping at policies to have some sort of impact before his power to please his father (in his own words) is removed. His hunger for attention and need to be loved become paramount in the final days of his presidency, since much of what he has done as president had more to do with reconciling his father loss than governing.

We have a president who, by legacy, holds conflicted loyalty to the country he leads. By contrast, Netanyahu, like Jews born anywhere in the world, is fighting for the very land of his fathers going back thousands of years – land the Bible holds was actually given to them by God himself. Netanyahu betrays by losing the land, and Obama betrays by protecting it. Such a divide may be impossible to bridge. The reality is that by almost any account, freedom loses if Israel is threatened.

In the final analysis, America should re-examine the policies that push fathers out of the home. As Reagan said, “If you want more of something, subsidize it.” The welfare state, collectivism and its impact on the family are to blame for the absence of fathers in the lives of children across America and around the world. Now that same disregard for fathers and families is also to blame for policies that result in a holocaust of terror, and the possible annihilation of a free country and strong American ally.

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