Star Parker
Barack Obama's obvious comfort level with leaders of un-free countries shouldn't surprise anyone. He is not only our first black president. He is also our first president who doesn't like the free country he was elected to lead and feels his job is to change it.

Obama's cordial encounter with Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez, his bow of deference in London to the Saudi Arabian king, are extensions of behavior we have always seen on the black left. Jesse Jackson openly embraced Chavez, as well as having maintained relations with the likes of Libyian dictator Muammar Qaddafi and Yasir Arafat.

This should be kept in mind as our president now makes his own effort to bring peace to the Middle East.

It should be clear to anyone conscious and watching that central to Obama's Middle East strategy is to disabuse the long held notion that there exists a "special relationship" between the United States and Israel. The sense of unique kinship between our country and the Jewish state has existed since Israel's founding just 60 years ago.

The Arab world has always resented the US-Israel connection and has felt that because of this, Americans would never be an honest broker in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Obama is out to change this. His first hundred days, from his very first television interview -- given to an Arab television network -- have focused on warming up our relations with Islamic nations and cooling down our Israeli ones.

We should appreciate that this shift is more than a technical change in diplomatic strategy. It reflects a change in values.

The "special" American-Israeli relationship has always reflected the shared values and traditions of the two countries. A commitment to freedom sustained by traditional Judeo-Christian core values.

Freedom House is a widely respected non-partisan organization that publishes annual reports on the state of freedom around the world.

They rate the state of freedom on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being most free.

According to the latest Freedom House data, released this past January, in the area of "political rights", Israel rates a 1. On "civil liberties", Israel gets a 2.

And Israel's Arab neighbors? On "political rights", Egypt ranks 6, Jordan 5, Syria 7, and Lebanon 5. On "civil liberties", Egypt ranks 5, Jordan 5, Syria 6, and Lebanon 4.

Oil rich Saudi Arabia, to whose king the President of the United States bowed deeply at the waist, ranks 7 in "political rights" and 6 in "civil liberties."

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.