Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Criticizing the President

He’s wrong. And maybe even dangerous as far as Israel is concerned. Although I think he exaggerates a bit - I pretty much agree with Ed Koch’s assessment of President Obama’s tilt toward the Arabs. We should be speaking out more as Mr. Koch suggests. The President seems to be doing everything he can to ingratiate himself to the Arabs at the expense of the State of Israel.

It started with is snub of Israel by never setting foot in it since he took office while visiting Muslim countries several times already. It continued with his emphasis on Israeli settlements as the biggest impediment to peace. And it blew up recently when the President sent the Vice President to Israel to try and smooth things over. That’s when Israel decided to announce a 600 unit expansion in Ramat Shlomo, a section of Jerusalem that is technically just outside the green line.

That drew a sharp reprimand from both the VP and the Secretary of State. And it engendered a lot of media criticism of Israel.

What seems to be happening here is that the President wants to have his cake and eat it too. By not technically changing American policy but focusing only on the Arab side of things he can both ingratiate himself to the Arabs while claiming to be simply following long held American policy in the Middle East.

As I’ve said before, I do not believe he is anti Israel per se. His goal, I’m sure is to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East. He actually believes that Israel is the one at fault here – completely discounting Israel security concerns and ignoring a history of violence on the part of Palestinian terrorists who would rather blow up their own children than concede even one inch of ‘Palestine’ to the Jews. They truly love death more then we love life and have proven it many times. I actually believe that the President thinks this will all go away if a peace treaty can be signed.

That said I must take issue with various mostly Orthodox media and blogs that are exaggerating - or worse - misleading the public about the President. Criticism about his policies is just and should be made forcefully. Israel’s very existence is at stake. But it must be honest and not contrived.

The implication in much of the religious media is that the President is far more anti Israel than is the case. I do not believe he is anti Israel - just naïve, foolish, and even dangerous in his beliefs about achieving peace via siding more with the Arab point of view.

To imply that the President has specifically asked Israel to sign a Nuclear Non Proliferation treaty is misleading in the extreme. When I saw a couple of headlines implying that – it came as quite a shock to me. I thought it meant that he wanted Israel to admit it had nuclear weapons allow inspections and join in signing the treaty - or worse to dismantle the program altogether arguing that it would only encourage the Arab nations to build their own (…as if they don’t already know).

But the President said no such thing. What he said is that all countries should sign such a treaty – a US policy position predating the current administration. In fact when asked about Israel's refusal to join the NPT even as Washington works to bolster enforcement of the treaty he said the following:

"As far as Israel goes, I'm not going to comment about their program," Obama told a news conference.

But he said that "whether we are talking about Israel or any other country, we think that becoming part of the NPT is important."

This is a far cry from a VIN headline - originally used by Yahoo News: Washington - Obama: Israel Should Sign NPT. While technically correct - the implication is that he singled out Israel with animus!

But he did not single out Israel. What he said was in the context of everyone signing it. He believes in nuclear non proliferation. That is all he meant. He has not asked Israel to be inspected or threatened it with sanctions or anything like that. To imply otherwise is - at this point - disingenuous and counterproductive.

It does no one any good to find demons where there aren’t any. Criticism about his change in attitude is legitimate. But let us not undermine our own cause by resorting to distortions about what he said. Let us criticize him when it is justified. There is much to criticize. But exaggeration and overkill will only do damage to our credibility and our cause.