Mona Charen

"Lighten up." That's what defenders of National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones are saying. Appearing before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Jones introduced his remarks with the following story:

A Taliban militant gets lost and is wandering around the desert looking for water. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jew and asks for water. The Jewish vendor tells him he doesn't have any water but can gladly sell him a tie. The Taliban ... begins to curse and yell. The Jew, unmoved, offers the rude militant an idea: Beyond the hill, two miles down the road, there is a restaurant; they can sell you water. ... An hour later, the Taliban is back. He tells the merchant: "Your brother tells me I need a tie to get into the restaurant."

Jones got a hearty laugh from the crowd, which included many Jews. But really, you would think by 2010 that public officials would know better than to traffic in ethnic, religious, or racial jokes. A senior Middle East policy maker from an administration already perceived as unfriendly toward Israel might particularly wish to avoid greedy Jew anecdotes. Or should we lighten up?

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The joke is the least of it. Though in obviously poor taste, it sheds little light on why the Obama administration has brought relations with Israel to the lowest point since the state's founding. No, the Obamaites are not motivated by anti-Semitism. Their sentiments are actually more dangerous. President Obama believes that he understands Israel's best interests better than Israel's American supporters, and better than Israelis themselves do.

Speaking at Cairo University in June 2009, the president explained that looking at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict "from only one side or the other" would "blind one to the truth." That truth, he continued, was that the only possible solution was "two states where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security." Obama could see, even if the benighted parties could not, "that (a two-state solution) is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest." He said the same thing upon welcoming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Oval Office. Earlier this month, the president told The New York Times that while "we can't want (peace) more than (the parties do)," we are "setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts, but it's also in the interest of the United States."


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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