Friday, July 16, 2010

Obama Administration Has A New Angle In Its Claim To Support Israel

The Obama administration has been working on its claim to support Israel, and truth be told--it has gotten better than this embarrassing moment during a State Department press conference back in November--when the State Department spokesperson tries desperately to point to some kind of accomplishment in Obama's efforts for Mideast peace--and keeps getting fisked on the spot by the questioner:
QUESTION: You mean you got the Israel Government to say, yes, we’re willing to accept a Palestinian state? You got Netanyahu to say that, and that’s his big accomplishment?
MR. KELLY: That is an accomplishment.
QUESTION: But previous Israeli administration – previous Israeli governments had agreed to that already.
MR. KELLY: Okay, all right.
QUESTION: So in other words, the bottom line is that, in the list of accomplishments that Mitchell has come up with or established since he started, is zero.

MR. KELLY: I wouldn’t say zero.
QUESTION: Well, then what would you say it is?
MR. KELLY: Well, I would say that we’ve gotten both sides to commit to this goal. They have – we have – we’ve had a intensive round or rounds of negotiations, the President brought the two leaders together in New York. Look --
QUESTION: But wait, hold on. You haven’t had any intense --
MR. KELLY: Obviously --
QUESTION: There haven’t been any negotiations.
MR. KELLY: Obviously, we’re not even in the red zone yet, okay.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. KELLY: I mean, we’re not – but it’s – we are less than a year into this Administration, and I think we’ve accomplished more over the last year than the previous administration did in eight years.
QUESTION: Well, I – really, because the previous administration actually had them sitting down talking to each other. You guys can’t even get that far.
MR. KELLY: All right.
QUESTION: I’ll drop it.
Since then, the Obama administration has figured out that if it is going to push a pro-Israel image, it is going to have to try a different angle, especially given the recent chill in US-Israel relations--caused in part by such things as
  • His public humiliation last March of Bejamin Netanyahu at the White House, when Obama walked out of their talks to go have dinner with his family, leaving Israel's prime minister alone for over an hour, and then refused to release even a photo of their meeting.

  • His disturbing comparison, during that "outreach" speech to the Arab world in Cairo, of the Palestinians' "daily humiliations" and "intolerable" situation to the Nazi Holocaust.

  • His administration's public demand that Israeli leaders "demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process" -- a demand Sen. Chuck Schumer labeled "terrible" and "counterproductive."

  • His continued push for closer US ties with Syria -- an ally of Iran, state sponsor of terrorism and major backer of both Hamas and Hezbollah.

  • His decision to join the farcical UN Human Rights Council -- which devotes most of its time to denouncing Israel.
So a new approach to claiming the US-Israel bond was intact was needed. We saw that approach on display last week during Obama's interview with Israeli Channel 2:
Q So that fear, the tangible fear that some Israelis have that their best ally in the world might abandon them is --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's pretty hard to square with the fact that not only have I in every speech that I've ever given talked about the unbreakable bond to Israel, not only did I describe that special relationship and condemn those who would try to drive a rift between us in Cairo in front of a Muslim audience, but if you look at our actions -- and Prime Minister Netanyahu will confirm this, and even critics I think will have to confirm that the United States under my administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history. And we’ve got greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history. And the single most important threat to Israel -- Iran, and its potential possession of a nuclear weapon -- has been my number one foreign policy priority over the course of the last 18 months.
Like Kelly, Obama is not satisfied with saying things are as good as they were previously--they have to be better.

So if Obama's dedication to the future of the Jewish state cannot be illustrated by the tact he is taking in the Middle East peace process, then he will claim that his administration is the most supportive of Israel's security--ever.

And the media, which backs up Obama on his Mideast policy, is only to happy to pick up this meme and run with it.

From yesterday's Washington Post:
Despite diplomatic tensions, U.S.-Israeli security ties strengthen

This week, Israel successfully conducted a test of a new mobile missile-defense system designed to shield Israeli towns from small rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. When the "Iron Dome" system is fully deployed in the next year, about half the cost -- $205 million -- will be borne by U.S. taxpayers under a plan advanced by the Obama administration and broadly supported in Congress.

While public attention has focused on the fierce diplomatic disputes between Israel and the United States over settlement expansion in Palestinian territories, security and military ties between the two nations have grown ever closer during the Obama administration.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has worked decades in Washington, "believes we are cooperating on military-to-military relations in an unprecedented manner," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

Military relations were very close during the Bush administration, but "in many ways the cooperation has been extended and perhaps enhanced in different areas" during the Obama administration, a senior Israeli official acknowledged.
We can expect to hear more of this angle--a lot more--in the months leading up to the mid-term elections, as the Obama administration will struggle to put the best possible face on its relations with Israel.

And after the November elections--all bets are off.

Hat tip: Soccer Dad
Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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