At his core, Barack Obama is a leveler – an eraser of distinctions. Most Americans savor his unique ability to blur divisions based on race – after all, no other president could have expressed public hesitation and uncertainty before checking the racial identity box on his census form. (Mr. Obama opted, after well-advertised agony, for “African American” rather than “Mixed Race.”) At the same time, many liberals, including most Jewish liberals, applaud his efforts to demolish barriers based on economic advantage, to close the gap between the impoverished and the privileged. In other areas, the president’s leveling instinct creates far more controversy, particularly when it morphs into a stubbornly non-judgmental form of moral relativism. In foreign policy and national security issues in particular his denial of distinctions has led to dangerous confusion between the decent and the degenerate and, between friend and foe and, ultimately, between right and wrong. The administration has offered new protection and sympathy for terrorist operatives at Gitmo at the same time that it threatens criminal prosecution of counter-terror heroes for harsh interrogations that helped protect us from the enemy’s murderous schemes. In this context, it’s sadly predictable that the Obama team seems determined to punish the Israelis despite their innumerable risks for peace, while rewarding the Palestinians for their unshakeable intransigence.
Mr. Obama’s maddeningly obtuse approach to Israel doesn’t so much reflect anti-Semitism or even anti-Zionism as it expresses his willful blindness to the overriding moral dimension to the conflict in the Middle East. In this, he presents a glaring and painful contrast with his predecessor. George W. Bush made his share of errors in foreign affairs, but he never lost sight of the irreducible difference between nation states seeking a peaceful, stable, democratic world and those he unabashedly called “the evil-doers” --gangster regimes and terrorist bands bent on domination and destruction. When it comes to Israel and her enemies, Allen Dershowitz (who supported Obama’s presidential campaign) memorably drew the crucial distinction on my radio show: “If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there would be peace tomorrow. If the Israelis put down their weapons there would be genocide tomorrow.” In other words, there is no moral equivalence between those who seek only security within their own borders and those who yearn to annihilate a neighboring people.