I was out sick yesterday so I was unable to write today's column for the Jerusalem Post. I did manage to watch President Obama's speech on the Middle East yesterday evening. And I didn't want to wait until next week to discuss it. After all, who knows what he'll do by Tuesday?
Before we get into what the speech means for Israel, it is important to consider what it means for America.
Quite simply, Obama's speech represents the effective renunciation of the US's right to have and to pursue national interests. Consequently, his speech imperils the real interests that the US has in the region - first and foremost, the US's interest in securing its national security. Obama's renunciation of the US national interests unfolded as follows:
First, Obama mentioned a number of core US interests in the region. In his view these are: "Countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce, and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel's security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace."
Then he said, "Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind."
While this is true enough, Obama went on to say that the Arabs have good reason to hate the US and that it is up to the US to put its national interests aside in the interest of making them like America. As he put it, "a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and Muslim communities."
And you know what that means. If the US doesn't end the "spiral of division," (sounds sort of like "spiral of violence" doesn't it?), then the Muslims will come after America. So the US better straighten up and fly right.
And how does it do that? Well, by courting the Muslim Brotherhood which spawned Al Qaeda, Hamas, Jamma Islamiya and a number of other terror groups and is allies with Hezbollah.
How do we know this is Obama's plan? Because right after he said that the US needs to end the "spiral of division," he recalled his speech in Egypt in June 2009 when he spoke at the Brotherhood controlled Al Azhar University and made sure that Brotherhood members were in the audience in a direct diplomatic assault on US ally Hosni Mubarak.
And of course, intimations of Obama's plan to woo and appease the jihadists appear throughout the speech. For instance:
"There will be times when our short term interests do not align perfectly with our long term vision of the region."
So US short term interests, like for instance preventing terrorist attacks against itself or its interests, will have to be sacrificed for the greater good of bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power in democratic elections.
And he also said that the US will "support the governments that will be elected later this year" in Egypt and Tunisia. But why would the US support governments controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood? They are poised to control the elected government in Egypt and are the ticket to beat in Tunisia as well.
Then there is the way Obama abandoned US allies Yemen and Bahrain in order to show the US's lack of hypocrisy. As he presented it, the US will not demand from its enemies Syria and Iran that which it doesn't demand from its friends.
While this sounds fair, it is anything but fair. The fact is that if you don't distinguish between your allies and your enemies then you betray your allies and side with your enemies. Bahrain and Yemen need US support to survive. Iran and Syria do not. So when he removes US support from the former, his action redounds to the direct benefit of the latter.
I hope the US Navy's 5th Fleet has found alternate digs because Obama just opened the door for Iran to take over Bahrain. He also invited al Qaeda - which he falsely claimed is a spent force - to take over Yemen.
Beyond his abandonment of Bahrain and Yemen, in claiming that the US mustn't distinguish between its allies and its foes, Obama made clear that he has renounced the US's right to have and pursue national interests. If you can't favor your allies against your enemies then you cannot defend your national interests. And if you cannot defend your national interests then you renounce your right to have them.
As for Iran, in his speech, Obama effectively abandoned the pursuit of the US's core interest of preventing nuclear proliferation. All he had to say about Iran's openly genocidal nuclear program is, "Our opposition to Iran's intolerance - as well as its illicit nuclear program, and its sponsorship of terror - is well known."
Well so is my opposition to all of that, and so is yours. But unlike us, Obama is supposed to do something about it. And by putting the gravest threat the US presently faces from the Middle East in the passive voice, he made clear that actually, the US isn't going to do anything about it.
In short, every American who is concerned about the security of the United States should be livid. The US President just abandoned his responsibility to defend the country and its interests in the interest of coddling the US's worst enemies.
As for Israel, in a way, Obama did Israel a favor by giving this speech. By abandoning even a semblance of friendliness, he has told us that we have nothing whatsoever to gain by trying to make him like us. Obama didn't even say that he would oppose the Palestinians' plan to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution in support for Palestinian independence. All he said was that it is a dumb idea.
Obama sided with Hamas against Israel by acting as though its partnership with Fatah is just a little problem that has to be sorted out to reassure the paranoid Jews. Or as he put it, "the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel."
Hamas is a jihadist movement dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish people, and the establishment of a global caliphate. It's in their charter. And all Obama said of the movement that has now taken over the Palestinian Authority was, "Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection."
Irrelevant and untrue.
It is irrelevant because obviously the Palestinians don't want peace. That's why they just formed a government dedicated to Israel's destruction.
As for being untrue, Obama's speech makes clear that they have no reason to fear a loss of prosperity. After all, by failing to mention that US law bars the US government from funding an entity which includes Hamas, he made clear that the US will continue to bankroll the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority. So too, the EU will continue to join the US in giving them billions for bombs and patronage jobs. The Palestinians have nothing to worry about. They will continue to be rewarded regardless of what they do.
Then of course there are all the hostile, hateful details of the speech:
He said Israel has to concede its right to defensible borders as a precondition for negotiations;
He didn't say he opposes the Palestinian demand for open immigration of millions of foreign Arabs into Israel;
He again ignored Bush's 2004 letter to Sharon opposing a return to the 1949 armistice lines, supporting the large settlements, defensible borders and opposing mass Arab immigration into Israel;
He said he was leaving Jerusalem out but actually brought it in by calling for an Israeli retreat to the 1949 lines;
He called for Israel to be cut in two when he called for the Palestinians state to be contiguous;
He called for Israel to withdraw from the Jordan Valley - without which it is powerless against invasion - by saying that the Palestinian State will have an international border with Jordan.
Conceptually and substantively, Obama abandoned the US alliance with Israel. The rest of his words - security arrangements, demilitarized Palestinian state and the rest of it - were nothing more than filler to please empty-headed liberal Jews in America so they can feel comfortable signing checks for him again.
Indeed, even his seemingly pro-Israel call for security arrangements in a final peace deal involved sticking it to Israel. Obama said, "The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state."
What does that mean "with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility?"
It means we have to assume everything will be terrific.
All of this means is that if Prime Minister Netanyahu was planning to be nice to Obama, and pretend that everything is terrific with the administration, he should just forget about it. He needn't attack Obama. Let the Republicans do that.
But both in his speech to AIPAC and his address to Congress, he should very forthrightly tell the truth about the nature of the populist movements in the Middle East, the danger of a nuclear Iran, the Palestinians' commitment to Israel's destruction; the lie of the so-called peace process; the importance of standing by allies; and the critical importance of a strong Israel to US national security.
He has nothing to gain and everything to lose by playing by the rules that Obama is trying to set for him.