Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Obama and His Nine Hundred Rabbis

By Richard Edmondson

“I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video that surfaced last year. The video was filmed back in 2001 (before or after 9/11 is not completely clear), and in it Netanyahu goes on to say that “they (America) won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.”

The last couple of weeks have provided us with a glaring example of just how correct Netanyahu is in his view of the U.S. as an Israeli puppet easily manipulated. In its September 18 issue, New York Magazine labeled Obama “the first Jewish president,” and opined that Michelle’s house-husband is “the best thing Israel has going for it right now.” As if to prove the magazine correct, Obama went before the UN General Assembly on September 21 and proclaimed, “America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring”—this after his administration had publicly announced its intentions of vetoing any UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Then after abandoning the Palestinians, Obama held a conference call with some 900 rabbis in which he again pledged his undying devotion to the Jewish state. Here are a few prize quotes from that call:

“Prime Minister Netanyahu knows he can count on the United States,” Obama said. “We will not abandon the pursuit of a just and lasting peace that will end the conflict.”
“The bonds between the U.S. and Israel are unbreakable and the commitment of the security of Israel is ironclad. Since coming into office, I haven’t just talked the talk, we’ve walked the walk.”
“The most important thing we can do to stabilize the strategic situation for Israel is if we can actually resolve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis because that’s what feeds so much of the tumult in Egypt…”
“The U.S. relationship with Egypt is centered on their maintaining strong communications and maintaining the peace arrangement with Israel, and they’ve gotten the message.”

In short, Netanyahu knows he can count on his malleable puppet; the military leaders in Egypt had better wise up and realize America’s primary concern, by golly, is Israel, and not Egypt or its 80 million people…and of course (it never fails) we get the temporomandibular blather about “unbreakable” bonds, (but note the stronger adjective—“unbreakable”—used for the rabbis’ benefit, whereas in the UN speech, the ties are merely “deep and enduring”).

Well, no doubt after hearing such assurances the rabbis were relieved—or were they? What does it take to satisfy the Israeli lobby in America? Has Obama given them enough…or do they actually want and expect more?

The answer, if we are to judge from the New York Magazine article, would appear to be that they want more—a lot more. Written by one John Heilemann, the article is entitled “The Tsuris” (a Yiddish-derived term meaning “trouble” or “problem”) and is notable for the picture it presents of dwindling support for Obama amongst Jewish voters, and, more crucially, Jewish financial backers. Yes, Obama has been a stalwart supporter of Israel, yes, he has given the Zionist state everything it has asked for—but apparently for many in the Jewish community this is not enough.

“There’s no question,” says one of the president’s most prolific fund-raisers. “We have a big-time Jewish problem.”

Despite all the groveling to AIPAC, despite the insolent arm-twisting at the UN done on Israel’s behalf, and of course despite the $3 billion annually that flows unimpeded into Israeli coffers, for some Jews Obama has been found lacking. Heilemann reports that by the end of his first year in office, the president’s support among American Jews had dropped by 20 percent. If anything, it appears to have dropped even lower now:

A recent poll by the Republican firm McLaughlin & Associates found that among Jewish donors who gave to Obama in 2008, just 64 percent have already donated or plan to donate to him this time. Complicating the picture is the fact that Jewish buckrakers cite a variety of complaints with Obama: Some object to his rhetoric on Wall Street, some to his economic policies, and some to his handling of Israel.

But give Obama credit. He’s trying! One is almost reminded of a trained seal jumping through hoops:

Exactly one month after his Oval Office awkwardfest with Netanyahu [an incident in May of this year when Netanyahu delivered an on-camera lecture to Obama that reportedly “enraged” the administration-ed.], Obama made the mile-and-a-half trip from the White House to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to have dinner with several dozen wealthy Jews. His appearance had twin objectives: to rake in more than $1 million and to calm their jangled nerves. Unlike many conservative Jews, the big-ticket Democrats in the room, who had paid $25,000 to $35,800 a head to be there, didn’t believe that Obama was hostile to Israel. Yet it’s fair to say they had their share of qualms and a ton of questions…
…In addition to deploying Axelrod and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, his campaign has hired an official outreach director to try to fix its Jewish problem: Ira Forman, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council. Forman is known for an encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish politics and a history in waging trench warfare against Republican Jewish groups. But none of that will prepare him for the job he is taking on. “A lot of what he’ll be doing is coaxing and persuading,” says a Jewish Obama megabundler. “A lot of people who raised a ton of money for the president last time are very short on enthusiasm for doing it again.”

And then of course the UN speech and the conference call to the rabbis. Poor little Obama—he’s really “walking the walk,” isn’t he? Oh yes, and now come revelations that our White House custodian secretly authorized the sale of bunker-busters to Israel, weapons that could potentially be used in an attack on Iran. What’s especially interesting about the latter story is that it tends to portray Obama caught up in an even deeper level of servitude to Israel than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who had refused to sell the Israelis the same weaponry back in 2005—mainly due to concerns they would reverse-engineer the technology and sell it to China as they have done in the past.

An interesting question now is how all this groveling and submission to Israel is playing out with Middle America. Jews, of course, make up barely 2 percent of the U.S. population. What about the other 98 percent of us? Do we matter? Or to restate it slightly, how much concern for Israel can millions of out-of-work Americans realistically be expected to feel when they are struggling on a day to day basis just to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads? Does all this stroking and sucking up to Israel by our leaders still register positively in their minds? Or is it perhaps starting to wear a little thin? And if the latter, how cognizant are our leaders about these potentially shifting attitudes and are they worried how it may affect them?

An interesting post appeared at the blog Kenny’s Sideshow recently that may shed some light on this matter. The post has to do with a trip to Israel made during the August break by 81 members of Congress, a junket that was organized by an AIPAC affiliate. Blogger “Kenny” reports that his own congressional representative, Diane Black of Tennessee’s 6th congressional district, was one of those who went on the excursion but says her participation was not reported by local media, and that few people back home in the district knew of it. He writes:

As a freshman congressperson it is no surprise that she had to make the obligatory trip, meet with the criminals in charge and let them know she is with them all the way. There seems to be no other way to secure a long term congressional career and Mrs. Black knows it.

What's odd is that Diane kept her trip to Israel about as hidden as could be. To the best of my knowledge she did not announce it publicly in advance. It was a reported 9 day visit where for all intents and purposes she just disappeared. Upon her return she has not posted anything about this 'educational' trip paid for by the AIPAC subsidiary The American Israel Education Foundation on her official government web site or her Facebook page. No press release, no nothing except for one apparent tweet that few saw. One might get the impression that she was trying to hide her trip from her constituents. Why would that be Diane?

What is also odd is that the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, the newspaper in the largest city in Diane's district did not find her trip to Israel newsworthy. Neither did the nearby Nashville media including the Tennessean or any of the local tv or radio stations. The secret has been safe with no debate anywhere to be found among the middle Tennessee area residents.

Without the help of Video Rebel's Blog and Legistorm's trip report it would still be a secret to me.

A statement that was found from Black is "My Trip to Israel" on an obscure site Tennesseans Watching Federal and State Government and as far as I can tell not re-posted anywhere else.

As Heilemann somewhat cleverly puts it, “So much pandering, so little time!”—and now we see that efforts are made to keep at least some of the pandering hidden from public view. A further look at the 2001 Netanyahu video is also instructive as to who is really in charge of U.S. policy. Says Bibi:

Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn’t afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway, I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.

Receiving “value for the price” apparently means being loathed by U.S. officials but still getting what you want anyway. As for Obama, what more could he give the Israelis that he hasn’t already? We have seen a complete capitulation on his administration’s demands for a halt in settlement building, as well as a hasty, almost panicked, retreat from his remarks about returning to the 1967 borders “with mutually agreed swaps.” He has even provided support, beyond regular military aid, for the “Iron Dome” anti-rocket system and publicly vowed to fight, with all his might, any attempts to “de-legitimize” Israel.

So what more, we might ask, could Obama do for the Israelis that he hasn’t already done? Why the falling out of favor? What else could the Jewish state’s supporters in America conceivably demand of him? The answer to that—again, quoting from the Heilemann article—seems to be they would like for him to “feel Israel in his bones,” although just what exactly that means, and how Obama is supposed to prove he possesses such deep feeling for the Zionist state, are left to our imagination. But whatever it may be, one gets the impression those who would issue such an imperious demand upon the leader of a supposedly sovereign nation must have taken quite literally to heart the teachings of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef—that Gentiles are donkeys put here to serve the people of Israel. Whether they in fact believe this to be the case, the president’s “Jewish buckrakers” would nonetheless certainly appear to have made a donkey out of their gelding in the White House.

Posted by Richard Edmondson at 9/26/2011 1:51 PM
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