During the election, much was made of Obama’s popularity abroad: an MSN poll of over half a million people from 36 countries showed that President Obama was favored over Governor Romney by an astounding 81% of those questioned. Yet Obama was not so popular in a country that was not among the 36 surveyed in the MSN research: Israel. A similar study done by Tel Aviv University reported that only 22% of Jewish Israelis supported Barack Obama’s reelection.
Why was there such a disconnect with young Israelis? Perhaps their apprehension can be attributed to our leader's affinity with the Islamic world and the numerous perceived slights senior Israeli leaders have received from him. In addition he did not visit Israel as president, although he did travel there as a presidential candidate in 2008. After winning a large percentage of the Jewish American vote, as Democrats traditionally do; his seeming ambivalence or lukewarm treatment has given heartburn to both Jews and evangelical Christians.
Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller echoed the concerns of many when he wrote in the July 2012 edition of Foreign Policy, “My sense is that, if he could get away with it, the president would like to see a U.S.-Israeli relationship that is not just less exclusive, but somewhat less special as well.”
The modern state of Israel is not a stranger to defending itself against bordering countries bent on its destruction. Time and time again, the tiny country has shocked the world with its ability to stand up to its larger neighbors. In June of 1967, Israel simultaneously defeated Egypt, Syria, Jordan as well as Syria- supported Palestinian guerrilla groups (and other mercenary forces) in an astounding victory known as the Six Days War.
This month, for the first time in over forty years, terrorists fired missiles into Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from Gaza, which borders Egypt. A barrage of hundreds of rockets pounded Israel, launched from the Hamas terrorist group. Only the providence of God and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has miraculously prevented major casualties. It is little wonder that Israel is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza. A year ago last spring, during my first trip to Israel, I was shocked at how close Gaza is to Israel.
The American public remains largely unaware of the magnitude of the conflict due to the general failure of the mainstream media to report accurately concerning the wrongs suffered by Israel. Instead, any measure Israel takes to defend herself is decried as brutal and over the top. In the meantime, Israel’s enemies have boasted about its impending destruction. Most vocal today are the threats we hear from Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is known to be supplying Hamas with their weapons.
On President Obama’s watch, the United States has gone from being a staunch ally to the only democracy in the Middle East to something like a silent peer. But Israel will not wait for our approval to defend itself, nor should it. As Dr. Josef Olmert observed in the Huffington Post in June of this year, “When pushed to the wall, with a deep, genuine fear of extinction, the Israelis act, even against the odds.”
At the time of this writing, the New York Daily Post showed a picture of the half naked, tortured body of an alleged traitor which was being dragged through the region to the cheers of Palestinian men, women, and children. This man was executed along with 5 others. The Daily News article carried a huge heading which read: “SAVAGE.”
Meanwhile the United Nations, which says little about the attacks on Israeli civilians, is publicly urging Israel to exercise “maximum self-restraint.” The current conflict is complicated by the fact that the United Nations is scheduled to vote on November 29th to elevate the Palestinian Authority to the level of an “observer” nation, formally recognizing Palestine as a legitimate country. Ironically, and no doubt intentionally, this will be 65 years to the day since the United Nations first recognized the modern state of Israel.
With Hillary Clinton leaving the State Department; the president's very own vision, philosophy, wisdom and willpower are going to be tested in the Middle East.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.