The term “democracy” has its original from the French word “démocratie“, which was derived from the Greek term “dēmokratia“, that is made up of two concepts joined together, namely: “dēmos” (meaning, “the people”) and “kratia” (meaning “power” or “rule”). The idea is that the people have the power to determine who will rule. The understanding of Israelis of a democratic Israel is that the people freely exercise their vote to choose who will be their Prime Minister or other government officials. The apparent understanding, actually mis-understanding, of President Barack Hussein Obama of democracy in Israel is that he has a better perspective than the Israeli people of who should and shouldn’t be their Prime Minister. The Israeli people have spoken, but Obama closed his ears to their voice. The Israeli people have revealed their clear grasp of the situation in the Middle East, particularly as it affects Israel, but Obama has closed his eyes to this reality. Unfortunately, he has not closed his mouth to the decision of the Israeli people. The United States, which is supposed to be the leader of the free world, supporting democratic concepts and principles upon which the U.S. was established, has a leader who continues to pout like a little child, because the recent Israeli election did not turn out the way that he wanted.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected for a third consecutive term as the Prime Minister of Israel, defying the pollsters, defying the organized opposition, who campaigned on a platform of “anyone except Netanyahu”, defying the mainstream media, and defying Obama.
Lots of things were said, and not said, by the various politicians during the last campaign. In the normal course of events, they would have been seen as campaign rhetoric and soon forgotten. But, two 11th-hour statements from Netanyahu caused no small degree of upset. One of those statements affected a portion of the Israeli public, while the other had considerable impact on the planned legacy of Obama. The first was Netanyahu’s urging of the Israeli right-wing voters to get out and vote, because “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses”. The second was Netanyahu’s statement that a “Palestinian” state would not be established on his watch (during his tenure as Prime Minister).
As to the first comment, opponents of Netanyahu wasted no time to cause him of speaking as a racist, vis-a-vis the Arab population in Israel. A White House spokesman expressed that the U.S. was “deeply concerned about rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens”. Obama himself got into the blame game of condemnation of Netanyahu’s words when he told The Huffington Post on March 21st: “We indicated that that kind of rhetoric was contrary to what is the best of Israel’s traditions. That although Israel was founded based on the historic Jewish homeland and the need to have a Jewish homeland, Israeli democracy has been premised on everybody in the country being treated equally and fairly,” said Obama. “And I think that that is what’s best about Israeli democracy. If that is lost, then I think that not only does it give ammunition to folks who don’t believe in a Jewish state, but it also I think starts to erode the meaning of democracy in the country.” However, it needs to be remembered that this statement was made during an election day, when Israeli Arabs were encouraged to vote for the newly-formed Joint Arab List (J.A.L.), which unified the various Arab political parties under one umbrella. And, indeed, it was anticipated that the J.A.L. could garner as many as 15 out of the 120 Knesset seats. As it turned out, the J.A.L. received 13 seats in the new Knesset, making it the third largest political party after the Likud (Netanyahu) and the Zionist Union (Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni). Netanyahu had every reason to be concerned and his statement was a factual and political reality, rather than a racist comment.
A few days following the election, Netanyahu met with leaders of various minority communities in Israel, at which time he apologized for the offense caused by his statement concerning the Arab voter turnout: “I know that what I said a few days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, offended Israeli Arabs. I had no intention of doing so. I am sorry for this. My actions as prime minister, including major investments in the minorities sector, prove the complete opposite. I also think that no element outside the State of Israel should interfere in our democratic process. (emphasis mine) I view myself as prime minister of each and every one of you, of all Israeli citizens, regardless of religion, race and gender. I view all Israeli citizens as partners in the building of a prosperous and safe State of Israel, for all Israelis.”
Even though the Prime Minister expressed that those “outside the State of Israel should [not] interfere in our democratic process”, Marie Harf, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, when asked about Netanyahu’s apology: “[Netanyahu] said diametrically opposing things in the matter of a week, so which is his actual policy? That’s why what we said is, words aren’t enough at this point. What we need to see are actions … and policies that demonstrate a genuine commitment to the peace process. (emphasis mine) … I think we just don’t know what to believe at this point. … Words matter. And if you say something different two days later, which do we believe and which, it’s hard to know. It honestly is. And why was one said at one time and why was something different said after the election? Who knows? We can’t read his mind.” The exact same comments can be said of the President of the United States. Note the comment about a commitment to the peace process that was sandwiched in between comments concerning the Arab voter turnout.
The State Department reflects the position of the present U.S administration. As Obama thinks, so the State Department speaks. It is nothing short of political chutzpah for the U.S. administration to stick its nose into Israeli politics and to say, of all things, that words matter and if something is said today and changed tomorrow, people won’t know which to believe. But, they speak from their own experience. Political rhetoric is nothing new to Obama. He used it with great skill during his first campaign for office, as well as during his second one. He continues to do so today. His understanding of “change we can live with” became a nightmare from which the world still needs to wake up. Obama’s statements changed with the wind. “Red lines” concerning Syria and Iran became blurred and were eventually totally abandoned. His yo-yo policies concerning the Middle East makes reliance upon his statements a near impossibility. Friends become enemies and enemies become sought-after friends. So, Obama’s condemnation of Netanyahu’s statements are par for the course and are to be expected, in light of the friction that has been built up between the leaders of the two countries. In reality, however, Obama’s comments are an attack not only upon Netanyahu, but upon the Israeli populace, who freely and democratically re-elected the Prime Minister, despite existing and growing antagonism from the American administration. We voted for Netanyahu, but at the same time, Israelis made it clear that they were voting against Obama.
As for the second issue, namely, that a “Palestinian” state would not be established during Netanyahu’s prime ministership, that comment needs to be viewed in the light of the entire statement that he made just prior to the election. In an interview
that he gave to Arutz Sheva, in English, in which the Prime Minister basically repeated his statements given in Hebrew on the NRG Israeli news website: “I think that anyone who moves to establish a “Palestinian” state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. …This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.” In this regard, Netanyahu also indicated that he was not repudiating the comments that he made in Bar Ilan University in 2009, in which he indicated his willingness to negotiate toward the creation of a “Palestinian” state. His statements then included “[If] we receive a guarantee for security arrangements needed for Israel and if the “Palestinians” recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish people, we will be willing in a future peace deal to reach a solution of a demilitarized “Palestinian” state side by side with the Jewish state.”
Those statements were considered to be a major departure from Israeli policy at the time, and were pursued without any reciprocity on the part of the “Palestinians”.
In various interviews, the Prime Minister noted that his responsibility was to protect Israel. Such protection must include an understanding of our not-too-distant history and, in this regard, Netanyahu is on solid ground. In the early 1980’s, we withdrew from Sinai and that area is now being used by the pro-ISIS jihadis, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. In 2000, we withdrew from southern Lebanon, which allowed the area to become controlled by the Hizballah. In 2005, we withdrew from Gush Katif, which resulted in Hamas establishing its jihadist rule that is fixated on Israel’s destruction. Is it any wonder that Netanyahu’s remarks focused on what the situation is today, in connection with his comments about a “Palestinian” state not being established on his watch?
Netanyahu’s statements were clear to anyone who bothered to listen to them in their entirety. Nevertheless, two days after the election results were in and following an international backlash and gross exaggeration and distortion of those comments by the mainstream media and by those who like to refer to themselves as journalists, Netanyahu clarified his comments regarding the two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “I haven’t changed my policy. I never retracted my speech at Bar-Ilan University six years ago calling for a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state. What has changed is the reality. … [“Palestinian” Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] the “Palestinian” leader refuses to recognize the Jewish state and has made a pact with Hamas that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, and every territory that is vacated today in the Middle East is taken up by Islamist forces. We want that to change so that we can realize a vision of real, sustained peace. I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that, circumstances have to change.” Many Israelis do not agree with the Prime Minister’s willingness to allow for the establishment of a “Palestinian” state anywhere within the present state of Israel. But, whether it is agreed to or not is not the essence of the conflict over the statement. The heart of the matter has to do with credibility, particularly among those who are the heads of two countries that only two years ago were said to have an “unbreakable bond” between them.
Nevertheless, this explanation by Netanyahu was also rejected by Washington, which preferred to hang its hat on the Prime Minister’s pre-election comment, rather than on his post-election statements. Again, totally ignoring the context in which his remarks about no “Palestinian” state on his watch, State Department Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said: “We believe he changed his position three days ago” (meaning one day before the election), adding, “[Our] preference is for a two-state solution negotiated between the parties. His comments three days ago brought into question his commitment to that.” So, there we have it. Netanyahu stated that the reality on the ground has changed, but he never retracted his support for a two-state solution to the establishment of a “Palestinian” state. Washington ignored his explanation – indeed, it also ignored the context in which his original comments were made, even though both the White House and the State Department purportedly reviewed the transcript of his interview. Obama himself said: “We take him at his word when he said that it [a two-state solution] wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region.” And that’s when Washington’s threats against Jerusalem began in earnest. More on that in a later post.
Obama’s antagonism against Netanyahu has caused the President to be myopic with regard to his perspective of what is happening in the Middle East. This region is already chaotic and potentially explosive. In case Obama hasn’t paid attention to the news lately, the last four years has seen destabilization in Bahrain, Egypt (somewhat more stabilized under its present leadership), Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Syria and, in the last few days, Yemen. ISIS has established a significant foothold in the region, and military action is being taken against it by outside forces. Jordan and Saudi Arabia, both of whom are more in line with Netanyahu’s concerns over Iran than with Obama’s attempts to placate Iran, have intervened militarily to thwart the far-reaching tentacles of Iran’s expansionist policies in the Middle East. Yet, in the midst of it all, the only thing that Obama can see as of primary importance to resolve the problems in the Middle East is the need to establish a “Palestinian” state … and that, on his watch.
Obama’s desire to implement the “two-state solution” and to establish a “Palestinian” state has become all the more acute, since his visit to Israel in March of 2013. Although he objected to the Prime Minister addressing both houses of Congress and seeing it as an interference in American policies, vis-a-vis Iran, he had no problem interfering in Israeli politics and policies when he was here just two years ago (see President Obama’s visit to Israel – TWTW, 23 March, 2013
). One of the most out-of-place facts concerning the “two-state solution” is that it is being promoted primarily by those who don’t live in this neighborhood and who have little understanding concerning what it entails.
Two scathing articles against Obama’s behavior towards Israel and Netanyahu appeared in the Wall Street Journal this week, both having to do with the aftermath of the Israeli election. The first article by columnist Bret Stephens challenges Obama’s Orwellian world view and his belligerency against Netanyahu. With clear discernment, Mr. Stephens writes:
“There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. … His administration is now on better terms with Iran – whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan ‘God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,’ just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria. … “The current victim of Mr. Obama’s moral inversions is the recently re-elected Israeli prime minister. Normally a sweeping democratic mandate reflects legitimacy, but not for Mr. Obama. Now we are treated to the astonishing spectacle in which Benjamin Netanyahu has become persona non grata for his comments doubting the current feasibility of a two-state solution. This, while his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas is in the 11th year of his four-year term, without a murmur of protest from the White House. … For continuously rejecting good-faith Israeli offers, Mr. Abbas may be about to get his wish: a U.S. vote for “Palestinian” statehood at the United Nations. For tiring of constant “Palestinian” bad faith—and noting the fact—Israel will now be treated to pariah-nation status by Mr. Obama.”
He not only understood, but boldly expressed the fact that Israel is “being treated disdainfully by this crass administration”, which is led by an “abusive and surly” leader. He concluded with a word of encouragement and of veiled concern: “Israel survived its first 19 years without meaningful U.S. patronage. For now, all it has to do is get through the next 22, admittedly long, months.”
The second article was an editorial that appeared on Tuesday, March 24th, which accused Obama of being out for revenge against Netanyahu. It referred to the speech given at the J Street annual conference by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, in which he stated that “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end”. Such a comment could only be made if it received prior approval by Obama. That leaves us with the chilling thought that after finally taking off his mask and revealing his true intentions, Obama genuinely believes that Israel is unjustly occupying “Palestinian” land and he now intends to act to bring it to a forced conclusion.
As I considered the U.S. responses to the election results and the two specific comments of Prime Minister Netanyahu that were jumped upon by the mainstream media and the current American administration, I couldn’t help thinking that Obama’s strenuous opposition to Netanyahu is one of jealousy. After 6 years plus in office, the U.S. President is still trying to carve out a positive legacy for himself. In the process, he has turned against Israel, America’s only true friend in the Middle East, in favor an enemy who unabashedly gives support to the statement ‘God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam’. He has approximately 22 months before he is rolled away like an outgoing tide and is replaced by the incoming wave. And, when he vacates the residence which he presently occupies, a new leader will step in who will, hopefully, undo and correct the damage that has been done to America’s relationship with Israel and with other nations of the world. It will, indeed, be a long 22 months and the future of America is being weighed in the balance.
When the White House is no longer occupied by Mr. Obama, the Prime Minister’s residence in Israel will still host Mr. Netanyahu, whose own legacy will depend in large measure upon whether a “Palestinian” state will or will not be set up on his watch. Whatever the circumstances will be, we have no right to give away what has been given to us in trust by The Owner.
The Israeli election resulted in an overwhelming victory for Netanyahu, a victory which greatly disappointed Obama, who is now taking his diplomatic bat and swinging it in the direction of Netanyahu. He is ignoring any consideration and concern that Israel might have over the anticipated very bad deal with Iran that America is pushing for and which is expected to be signed by the end of the month. If such a deal is signed, and it leaves thousands of centrifuges in Iran still spinning, Israel may find itself making deals with neighboring countries to thwart the Iranian, nuclear threat. Woe to America! It is going the way of Cain, falling headlong into the error of Balaam and may perish in its rebellion like Korah.
The real story is just beginning.
“The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done [to Israel], it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” (Obadiah 1:15)
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.