President Obama Visits Israel

President Obama Visits Israel

© David Burton 2013

Obama's Israel Visit

     President Obama has completed his long awaited visit to Israel. He was received enthusiastically by his Israeli hosts and he spoke many words in support of the Jewish nation. BUT, and this is a big but, President Obama once again spoke words that can only hinder any chance of achieving peace in the region. His words opposing Israeli settlements in Samaria and Judea can only reinforce the hope of the Palestinian and Islamic extremists that the U.S. will eventually pressure Israel to abandon these settlements. This essentially guarantees that they will stall and urge the U.S. to put more pressure on Israel to make more and more concessions.

     Obama once again urged the two-state solution – Jew and Arab each having their own nation and coexisting in peace. Israel has repeatedly accepted this position, beginning in 1947 when they accepted the U.N. partition plan. The Arabs didn’t accept the two-state then and, in truth, they never have and they never will – they want only a one-state solution and I assure you that state is not the State of Israel. The Arabs and the Palestinians pay lip service to the two-state solution while continually working toward their one-state solution. Israel has conceded much in a futile attempt to provide the Arabs with a Palestinian state. They removed all Jews from the Gaza Strip, they gave the West Bank autonomy as a step toward statehood. The offered Arafat nearly everything he asked for. Each time, they have been rebuffed, whether by Yasser Arafat, by a barrage of rockets from Gaza, or by Arab murders sneaking into Israel and murdering unarmed civilians. Even if they should by some miracle agree to a peace treaty with Israel, who, in his right mind, would put any faith in believing that they would honor such an agreement?

     "Barack Obama’s first trip to Israel as president seems to have thawed his frosty relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at least for public consumption. But it appears to have done little to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, curb . . . Jewish settlement-building or craft a unified strategy to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands.
     “It was a diplomatic mission with a strikingly unambitious agenda, Middle East experts say, and one that failed to exceed low expectations.
     “Obama’s prods to Israelis and Palestinians to abandon intransigent positions blocking the path to peace were so gentle as to have passed almost unnoticed. He appealed to young Israelis to ‘put yourself in their shoes’ and acknowledge that Palestinians live in repressive occupation with no state of their own. To the Palestinians who have refused to resume peace talks . . . , Obama chided that ‘there is no point for negotiations’ if they insist on resolving what divides them as a precondition for returning to the table.
     “Most worrisome, say those who monitor the volatile region, was a sense that the Obama administration was simply checking off a neglected foreign policy matter from its second-term to-do list.” (Ref. 1)

The Positives:

     Overall, Obama's message had something for everyone. Israelis were encouraged that Obama really does like them; Operation Charm worked. One of the positives resulting from the president’s Israel visit was the first step in the process of mending his long-strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

     Another positive, and perhaps the most significant, was that It seems to be abundantly clear that President Obama and his administration are committed to a policy of backing Israel militarily. As was pointed out following Obama’s visit, “If there was a doubt before, maintaining the strategic U.S.-Israel alliance is evidently a priority for the Obama administration in term two.” (Ref. 2)

     Another item on the positive side: “a nuclear Iran is now recognized as a threat to the US and the West. And for the first time, Obama stated explicitly that the US accepted and respected Israel’s right to take whatever steps deemed necessary to defend itself – a clear message to the Iranians that if they maintain their current course, the US would not block an Israeli strike.” (Ref. 3)

The Not-So-Positives:

     No matter the facts, the useful idiots of the world blame Israel for the failure to achieve peace and for not conceding still more to the Arabs. At the same time, their fawning support for the Arabs and Palestinians gives the Palestinians still more reason to reject every offer of peace in the belief that they will eventually succeed in attaining their ultimate objective – the total elimination of the State of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of all Jews in the region.

     Obama never once publically told the Palestinians to stop their policy of teaching their children to hate Jews; he never once publically told the Palestinians that they could expect no support from America until they publically declared the right of Israel to exist; he never once lambasted the Palestinians for glorifying murderers of innocent Israeli civilians; he never once told the Palestinians that neither he nor the United States could support a state that would not allow ethnic minorities, in this case Jews, to live in freedom and to worship freely in their country; he never once told the Palestinians that their attempts to join with a terrorist organization like Hamas could not be viewed as an indication that the Palestinians would honor any peace agreements with Israel, even as Hamas was firing rockets at Israeli civilians while he visited the region,

     Obama told the Israelis to try and look through the eyes of the Palestinians. Why didn’t he deliver the same message to the Palestinians? He could have told the Palestinians that if they were to look through the eyes of the Israelis, they would see a history of Arabs massacring Jews in Hebron (1929), Safed (1929), Tiberias (1938), BenYehuda Street, (1948), the Hebrew University (2002), the Maxim Restaurant (2003), Mercaz HaRav School(2008) and elsewhere; they would see a people that denies the right of Israel to exist; they would see Islamic terrorists firing thousands of rockets at defenseless civilians; they would see the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers; they would see Arab criminals murdering Israeli civilians on the highways, in religious schools, on civilian buses, in restaurants and elsewhere; they would see themselves called dogs and pigs; they would see Palestinian children reading schoolbooks calling for the killing of Jews; they would see Palestinian schoolbooks in which the State of Israel did not exist, and most of all, they would see blind irrational hatred on the part of their supposed “partners for Peace.”

     Obama urged Israel to stop building in the West Bank settlements and, by implication, to dismantle the existing settlements and stop building in Jerusalem. That is not going to happen and, by now, he knows that. His call for these actions just gives the Palestinians hope for more concessions by Israel and for the pressuring of Israel by the United States to do so. The settlements are a legitimate issue for negotiations when and if the Palestinians ever get serious about achieving independence. Obama once claimed to be a supporter of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – now he urges the cessation of Jewish building in its capital. The message to the Palestinians and Arabs apparently is – be patient and wait for more concessions from Israel because the president of the United States is on your side - he will help you to get these concessions.

     This is the same wrong-headed approach to the peace process that has proven to be such an abject failure. It is a policy that offers to reward the aggressor and to get the victim to continually concede more. This policy didn’t work in 1938 when the Europeans rewarded the aggression of Adolph Hitler with the gift of Czechoslovakia and it isn’t working in the Middle-east and it will never work. Appeasing aggression only leads to more and more demands from the aggressor for more and more concessions from the victim. The message to the Palestinians should have been: ”negotiate and reach a settlement now because you will only get less in the future” – this is a message that the Palestinians would understand.

     During his 2nd term inauguration speech, President Obama made either an embarrassing slip of the tongue, or a frightening revelation of his true view of the Mid-east peace process when he called for “peace in our time”. Either way, these words, made infamous by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as he promised an illusory peace with Adolf Hitler in1938, should be a lesson. You cannot ignore or reward aggression. There cannot be any reward for Arab and Muslim aggression toward Israel.

     The president’s “expressions of love and abundant use of clichés such as ‘our unbreakable bonds’ are insufficient. Despite years of bullying {Israel} diplomatically, Obama has yet to condemn the Palestinians for their incitement, intransigency and refusal to indulge in negotiations. {Israel needs} clarification of US support for the major settlement blocs and defensible borders as it is abundantly clear that the Obama prescription of Israel retaining 1967 armistice lines plus ‘mutual’ swaps will never be achieved with the current Palestinian leadership. Above all, he should decisively reject the ‘Arab refugee right of return’ which if implemented would lead to {Israel’s} demise. If he {moved} in this direction, {Israelis} could say that despite his former displays of animosity towards Netanyahu and his obsession to appease the Muslim world, his words of support {were} meaningful and not merely . . . rhetoric.” (Ref. 4)

     The two main public events of President Obama’s Mid-east visit were a speech by Obama to Israeli university students, and a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas.

     “In his speech, Obama spoke at great length about Israel’s history, concerns, and related matters to try to show that he ‘gets it’ when it comes to Israel. The phrases were in many cases similar to those used by previous presidents: the intention was to show warm sympathy and support for Israel.
     “But there were three things strange about the point of the speech, showing that Obama is completely out of touch with contemporary sentiments and thus showing that, in many ways, he doesn’t ‘get it.’
     “First: Obama’s big theme is that — and I’m not being satirical here — peace is good. He tried to make the students understand that peace is better than continued conflict and has many advantages. Of course the students think peace is good — they are the ones who have to serve in the military and risk their lives, not to mention know that they and their loved ones are the targets of terrorism and war.
     “Can Obama possibly not comprehend this? I believe he doesn’t, that he seriously thought he was bringing new ideas to his audience that they had never thought about before nor heard about for years.
     “Second: he did not deal with a single one of ‘the day after’ issues. Assume that there is a peace agreement between Israel and the PA. Well, how do we know Hamas won’t take over the PA, or that more radical forces won’t come to power that will not recognize the deal? Further:
     “– What is a deal with the PA worth when it won’t include the Gaza Strip, where Hamas would redouble its efforts to attack Israel and work hard to undermine any such agreement?
     “– What reason is there to believe there won’t be cross-border terrorism across the new international frontier, and that the government of Palestine will do anything about this terrorism?
     “– What about the likelihood of the Palestine government inviting in the armies of other countries, or at least getting advanced weapons from them?
     “– How is Israel going to deal with the PA’s passionately held demand that millions of Palestinians be allowed to come and live in Israel?
     “– Why should Israel believe in any guarantees and assurances from the United States and Europe when such promises have been repeatedly broken — including ones made by Obama himself?
     “These are only some of the questions Israelis have about what a peace would look like and whether a formal agreement would really be better than the status quo. This is especially true with the 30-year-old Egypt-Israel peace treaty, which is possibly under dire threat.
     “For Obama, none of these problems exist — you get a peace agreement on paper and that’s the end of the problem.
     “Third: Obama has not made one serious mention of the changed regional situation except to say that the United States wants democracy in the Arabic-speaking world and will try to work for that and for Egypt’s continued adherence to its peace treaty with Israel.
     “Yet he is still backing Islamists seeking or holding power.
     “To cite only one example, Obama has supported the new head of the Syrian opposition — apparently against real resistance within the opposition — despite the fact that this man . . . has close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and supports terrorism against Israel.
     “Other than wishful thinking, how does Obama think that Israel can make new big concessions and take risks in the face of radical Islamist regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, and Syria? This is especially true when none of these regimes — except for Iran and to some extent the Hamas regime in Gaza — is strongly opposed by the current U.S. government.
     “So there is a disconnect between Obama’s new policy on the peace process which fits with Israeli interest despite criticism, and a regional policy that is a big headache for Israel.” (Ref. 5)

An Arab/Palestinian Perspective on Obama’s Visit:

     According to several reports, Palestinians were left fuming, and many say they were insulted by President Obama’s visit to the region and the statements he made there. The following is abstracted from an article on the Al Jazeera network.

     “No amount of rhetoric can disguise the fact that {president Obama’s} visit {to the Mid-east} was an insult to the Palestinian people on every count. - - -
        - - -
     “Palestinians, already disillusioned about the chances of a separate state arising, should take heed of these realities. Obama's visit has shown that no help for their plight will be forthcoming from the US, (or anyone else). They have one last card and they must play it now: to abandon their leaderships both in the West Bank and Gaza and throw their efforts behind a demand for equal rights, including citizenship, under Israeli rule.
     “- - - If President Obama's visit goes some way to stimulating this resolve amongst Palestinians, then it would have had a historic, albeit unintended, purpose, and establish his currently vacuous trip to one that is truly momentous.” (Ref. 6)

     Note what Al Jazeera is proposing. Al Jazeera is suggesting that Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza become Israeli citizens in order to destroy the Jewish character of Israel and ultimately to take over complete control of the State of Israel, which presumably would then be renamed Palestine and any Jews living there would be killed or expelled, as is the case in nearly all other Arab/Muslim countries in the world.

     From another perspective, “The warm and friendly visit of US President Barack Obama to Israel was bound to lead to criticism from the Muslim world, which has long accused the US of favoring Israel.
     “Arabs see the visit as a reversal of Obama’s initial attitude upon beginning his first term in 2009 and his famous outreach to the Muslim world, symbolized by his speech in Cairo that same year. Arabs held out hope that the president would rebalance American foreign policy, long seen as slanted and detrimental to the Palestinian position.
     “The Obama visit to Israel {was} filled with effusive rhetoric, small talk in English between the president and Israeli leaders and other acts of closeness between the two countries, leading to a reaffirmation of the Arab world’s perception of US policy as being biased toward Israel.” (Ref. 7)

     And still one more take on the Arab/Palestinian perception of the president’s visit: “They complained that he mentioned a Jewish rocket victim by name, but didn’t mention any of the many Palestinian victims, or the approximately 4,500 prisoners in Israeli jails. He visited the grave of two Israeli icons, Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin, but refused even to walk by the shrine to Yasser Arafat. He did not repeat the Palestinian demand that Israel stop building settlements as a condition for peace talks.
     “In short, Palestinians got very little, and Israel got a bit more.” (Ref. 8)

     From this latter perspective, the president is criticized for acknowledging a Jewish civilian victim of an Arab terrorist rocket attack and for not mentioning the Arab terrorists rotting in Israeli jails for their crimes; for visiting the graves of the founders of the only democratic country in the regions and the only one that practices complete freedom of religion for everyone while failing to visit the shrine to a confirmed terrorist and murderer of innocent civilians; and, for not demanding that Israel accept an Arab precondition for resuming peace talks while the Arabs refuse to even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

     It seems unlikely that Obama's visit will have done much to advance the cause of peace in the region. The Palestinians feel that the White House hasn't done enough to help them secure statehood. What the Palestinians don’t understand or won’t admit is that those who haven’t done enough to help them secure statehood are their leaders and their Arab brethren who consider an independent Palestinian state as secondary to the destruction and elimination of the State of Israel – just look at the indisputable historical facts, dating back to their rejection of the U.N. partition plan in 1948, to the failure of Jordan and Egypt to establish an independent Palestinian state when they occupied and controlled the West Bank and Gaza, to Yasser Arafar, who turned down an independent Palestinian state when it was offered to him.

Some Other Assessments of Obama’s Visit:

     According to one assessment of President Obama’s visit, “The main news story . . . was his intensive focus on engineering an emotional reset with both the leadership and people of Israel. His two prepared texts (the speech to Israeli youths at the Jerusalem Convention Center and his toast to President Shimon Peres upon receiving Israel's Medal of Distinction) {were} powerful endorsements of Zionism . . .
     “But the visit was not limited to emotion and outreach -- it also provided a series of important policy takeaways:
     “- - - the president firmly aligned himself with Israel's position that {peace talks} should now proceed, immediately and without precondition. The fact that he aired this view standing next to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas was especially significant.
     “- - - ‘borders and security first” . . . the president {reiterated} his belief that the most effective way to proceed remains a negotiation over the delineation of borders, which he said would resolve the thorny settlements issue. - - -
     “Mutual blurring of U.S.-Israeli disagreement over the timetable of Iran's nuclear progress. . . . Netanyahu chose to play the warm and polite host, endorsing the president's statement. - - -
     “Agreement to open talks on an extension of U.S. military aid to Israel. It is not surprising that the United States will continue to provide Israel with substantial military support. Yet the fact that the administration could announce the opening of talks about long-term provision of U.S. aid at a time of deep budgetary disputes in Washington underscores the depth of bipartisan commitment to Israeli security.
        - - -
     “Contributing to an important thaw in Israeli-Turkish relations. - - - (Ref. 3)

     From another perspective, “The president’s long anticipated visit meant less than nothing.
     “Obama’s vacation to Israel was exactly that: He toured the sites, paid homage and respects, and reassured everyone that Israel has the right to exist and that the U.S. stand firmly behind the Jewish State; par for the course for any presidential visit to the promised land. But in the process of pandering to Israel, Obama annoyed Palestinians and Arabs everywhere — which are the exact groups of people that his visit should have been meant to reassure.
     “In his speech to a contingency of young Israelis in Jerusalem, Obama said exactly what he should have while at the same time saying everything he shouldn’t. He seemed to use his young audience as a way to divide the old guard, such as Netanyahu and his cronies, from the new generations of Israelis that are not as hawkish on Palestinians, imploring them to, ‘Put yourself in their shoes — look at the world through their eyes.’
        - - -
     “Around the region, Arab governments didn’t seem to care any more than usual about Palestinian issues while Obama was in town, as witnessed in Jordan where, at least geographically, the issue should matter the most. Instead, Obama’s quick visit with King Abdullah in Amman was used to discuss the looming crisis of refugees from Syria pouring into Jordan. Arab news outlets drew the typical conclusions from the visit, citing that nothing new is to be expected, the visit was meant to bolster Obama’s standing in Israel, scare Iran, and did nothing more than prove yet again that the U.S. has always favored Israel over Arabs.
     “In the end, Obama played it safe: Brown nose the Israeli right while trying to appease Arabs a little by recognizing their plight. (Ref. 1)

     “On key issues, then, the president tilted U.S. policy toward Israel in substantive ways, especially with regard to resuming peace talks with the Palestinians and taking steps that facilitated an improvement in Israel-Turkish ties. Whether the shift on how peace talks should begin translates into a shift on how those talks should then proceed remains unclear. The president endorsed the importance of direct negotiations, long an Israeli desideratum, but also urged the people of Israel to pressure their leaders for progress, implying that his host was not sufficiently committed to the objective of peace with the Palestinians. (In this regard, Obama's rhetorical flourish about politicians never taking risks unless prodded by their publics earned applause, but it also turned peace process history on its head. Neither Menachem Begin nor Yitzhak Rabin, for example, faced public pressure to reach agreements with Egypt and the Palestine Liberation Organization, respectively; rather, each took a major risk and sought to build popular support for his initiative.)
     “On Iran, the president affirmed his position on prevention with powerful rhetoric but injected no additional measures to strengthen the credible threat of military force that, as Netanyahu said in their press conference, is a key component of a successful policy.
     “Beyond these individual issues, the most important takeaway from the president's trip is this: if the basic idea behind visiting Israel was to open the administration's second term on surer footing in terms of U.S.-Israeli relations than what characterized the opening months of the president's first term, he appears to have succeeded.” (Ref. 9)

     “Both American and Israeli leaders must have heaved sighs of relief when Air Force One departed from Ben-Gurion Airport; President Barack Obama’s visit had culminated on a high note for both countries.
     “Obama engaged in an unprecedented charm offensive to overcome intense Israeli distrust toward him stemming from his initial efforts to appease the Arabs by ‘putting daylight’ between the US and Israel. To that end, four years ago in Cairo, he groveled to the Muslim world and basically endorsed the Palestinian narrative. Subsequently he demanded a unilateral settlement freeze which included the Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem, issued one-sided condemnations of Israel and repeatedly snubbed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
     “What particularly rankled Israelis in his Cairo speech was his attribution of the creation of Israel to the Holocaust, effectively ignoring 3,000 years of Jewish history.
     “His first speech on arrival {in Israel} totally repudiated this. He related movingly ‘to the Jewish homeland’ in which Jews prayed and tended the land for 3,000 years, describing the rebirth of the Jewish state as an unparalleled historic act of redemption.
        - - -
     “Obama repeated his mantra opposing settlement expansion and called for implementing the two-state solution. He irritated many Israelis by referring to Palestinian suffering without relating it to terrorism and incitement, as well as by praising the PA as a genuine peace partner.
     “Israelis also remain somewhat queasy with respect to Obama’s ultimate intentions regarding Iran. - - -
        - - -
     “Politicians must be judged by their actions. While the selection of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, uncertainty over timing in relation to Iran, the administration’s infatuation with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the ongoing US ‘engagement’ with undemocratic Islamist regimes remain grounds for concern, the powerful messages of friendship and support directed toward Israel by an American president are of enormous significance. (Ref. 3)

     “There were two immediate tangible achievements of the president’s visit. One was the surprise apology he arranged for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make by phone to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the . . . raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in 2010. Netanyahu’s phone call was the first step in the restoration of diplomatic ties.
     “The second achievement came Monday with the announcement that Israel would release tariffs and tax money it collects for the Palestinian Authority and which it has largely held onto since December in response to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ success in seeking an upgrading of the PA’s status at the United Nations.” (Ref. 10)

     “In a departure from the tradition of previous American presidents, President Obama's decision to deliver his main speech to a group of university students vs. addressing Israel's lawmakers at the Knesset has drawn widespread criticism.
     “Could it be President Obama intends to promote his progressive ideology, as liberals did in the U.S., by initiating a ‘left of center’ indoctrination of Israel's ‘free-thinking’ younger generation by sowing a seed of tolerance and appeasement within an ensemble of individuals preparing to make their mark in life and in politics?
        - - -
     “Ironically, during the president's visit, rockets launched by the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, fell into a southern Israeli family's back yard. While no injuries were reported, the attack speaks to the very center of the conflict.
     “The Middle East turmoil has never been about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It's about the very existence of Israel!
     “There are no doubt Israeli factions who would welcome peace resulting from a withdrawal from the territory. But major Palestinian organizations have a common goal -- destroying Israel. Relinquishing these disputed territories would place Israel's enemies just miles from their most populous city, Tel Aviv, rendering it indefensible.
         - - -
     “Regardless of the intent of the president's visit, it was not without results.
     “He did manage to undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli government in students' eyes and further embolden Israel's enemies.” (Ref. 11)

     Was much expected from the president's visit to Israel? No. Was the President's visit to Israel a success? Yes. Was everyone happy with the results of the President's visit? No. Was more achieved than was expected from the President's visit? Yes. What will be the ultimate results of the president's visit to Israel? ???

  1. President Obama's Trip to Israel Was Meaningless , Joseph Sarkisian,,
    Accessed 26 March 2013.
  2. Obama’s Visit to Israel Sends Strong Message to the World, Cory Meyer, The Jewish Journal, Page 7,
    21 March 2013.
  3. Candidly Speaking: Obama’s visit to Israel, Isi Leibler, The Jerusalem Post, 24 March 2013.
  4. Can Obama be trusted?, I. Leibler, Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem - –, 12 March 2012.
  5. As Obama Continues Israel Visit, His Themes Are Reinforced, Barry Rubin, PJ Media, 21 March 2013.
  6. Obama's Israel visit is an insult to the Palestinians, Ghada Karmi,, 24 March 2013.
  7. Obama’s Israel visit leaves Arabs upset, Ariel ben Solomon, The Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2013.
  8. Has Obama's Mideast trip changed the game on the ground?, Martin Fletcher,,
    23 March 2013.
  9. Policy Takeaways from Obama's Visit to Israel and the West Bank , Robert Satloff,
    The Washington Institute, 22 March 2013.
  10. Hints Of Movement Seen In Wake Of Obama Trip, Joshua Mitnick and Stewart Ain, The Jewish Week,
    28 March 2013.
  11. Obama's visit to Israel spurs questions, Mark Caserta,, 27 March 2013.

  4 April 2013 {Article 161; Israel_15}    
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