Some Jews still support Obama as Israel stares down nuclear threat

By some accounts, most American Jews are planning to vote for President Barack Obama in 2012. And Democrats seem to be mounting a massive public relations effort to shore up Jewish support in advance of the election.

In editorials, on blogs and in conversation, left-leaning American Jews are arguing that the perception that President Obama is not pro-Israel is incorrect and even paranoid, or that it stems from some emotional prejudice rather than logical assessment. The president’s boosters are defending Obama for his criticism of construction of East Jerusalem “settlements” and his suggestion that Israel return to the “pre-1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” with the Palestinians, or quoting Israeli leaders who speak glowingly of their relationship with the American President despite Obama’s reported snubbing of Netanyahu, or unpacking speeches to point out that when the President criticized Israelis he also criticized Palestinians.

These arguments are on target in only one respect: they suggest that speeches and second hand accounts of the President’s behavior don’t necessarily amount to much. But, these arguments sidestep and ignore the real, undeniable issue.

Obama’s behavior toward Iran–the most urgent issue to the security of Israel and the rest of the world– suggests there is no logical reason to assume that, were an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities to become necessary, this President would help Israel or would guard the Jewish state from international isolation – at least not in the face of competing priorities.

How can I be certain? No one knows the future, or the mind of another. But if past and present behaviors are any indicators of future ones, in a worst case scenario, not only would Barack Obama not help Israel directly, he would very possibly not even lend Israel military or diplomatic support. I base this assessment on behaviors of omission rather than commission on the part of this President.

President Obama has not led the way, as leader of the free world, in imposing tough sanctions on Iran. Rather, it was left to the U.S. Congress to press him into signing a weakened version (weakened at the behest of his administration, which delayed the sanctions’ passage by sending the Democrats back to the drawing board). This administration, despite much rhetoric about the need to impose tough sanctions, was obstructionist to the timely passage of the toughest version of sanctions.

If this administration was weak on even passing sanctions that penalize other countries for dealing with the Central Bank of Iran, on what basis should voters assume that, if Israeli leaders were faced with no option but a military one to insure the Jewish state’s survival, Obama would help or support Israel?

Am I saying the man hates Israel? No. Am I asserting he is not a “friend of Israel?” (whatever that means). Not necessarily. Do I think he wants Iran to get a nuclear weapon? Probably not. But do I think he would–when other, competing considerations press in upon him–prioritize Israel’s security, even if it meant standing with Israel in the face of world condemnation? No. Because he isn’t doing so now. In terms of facing Iran, he’s weak. Again, he fought to avoid passing tough sanctions and needed to be embarrassed into passing a weakened version.

The President’s Jewish-American boosters can talk about his “friendship” with Israel (just words), the White House Chanukah party (not substantive), and even quote Israeli leaders praising him – which is either naive or disingenuous. Israel’s leaders, in a precarious position, can’t necessarily speak freely on this point (although the Israeli public can). After all, if Americans re-elect Obama, then Israel’s leaders will be stuck with him – and Israel will need to hope for the best from him as it faces a terrible choice.

Actions speak louder than words. Again, on sanctions, a far less controversial strategy than military action, this President has been so weak he has incurred the dismay of even some Democratic leaders.

If American Jews and others re-elect this president, they will demonstrate plainly that Israel’s security is not a top priority for them, any more than it is for Obama. And they shouldn’t think that Israelis alone will be made more vulnerable if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. Iran’s minister of defense, Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted by Interpol for the 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. If Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, the security of Jews worldwide will suffer, perhaps dramatically.

Iran has been exporting terrorism around the world for decades. What makes anyone think that, armed with a nuclear weapon, Iranian terrorism would not increase? There is every reason to expect that, whether or not the regime used a nuclear weapon (and it certainly could), it would step up its terrorist attacks against Israelis, against other Jews and Christians around the world, against Americans, against moderate Muslims, and against anyone else who does not share the dream of an Islamic Caliphate. How do I know this? Again, the most reliable indicator of future behavior is past behavior, and exporting terrorism has been Iran’s specialty for decades.

In possession of a nuclear weapon and militarily untouchable (without accepting the eventuality of nuclear counter-strike), Iran’s regime would be free to ratchet up the terrorism that is their stock-in-trade. Then the balance of power in the world would change, and Israelis, Americans, as well as Jews, Christians, and moderate Muslims around the world, would find themselves on defense.

Bottom line: if the Jewish state’s security was not an extremely high priority for this President during his first term, there is no reason to think it would be during a second term. In fact, not needing to worry about the Jewish vote, Israel’s security would be likely to be a far lower priority during a second Obama term. Counting on Obama to confront a fascist regime intent on terrorizing the world or even to support Israel’s right to do so would be, in the words of one columnist “to hold blindly on to the hand of the U.S. president” in the face of a mortal threat.

Haven’t Jews had enough of trusting that the worst case scenario is simply too far-fetched to ever come to pass?

This entry was written by and posted on January 30, 2012 at 1:53 am and filed under Blog. permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Keywords: , , , . Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. */?>