Freedom House, which publishes an annual report measuring freedom around the world, rating nations based on political rights and civil liberties, has recently issued its 2015 report.
According to this report, there is only one free nation in the Middle East region. It so happens that it is the one nation that seems to trouble our American president the most – Israel.
Freedom House rates on a scale of 1 – 7, “1” being the most free and “7” the least. Israel is rated 1.5, receiving a grade of 1 on political rights and 2 on civil liberties.
The Israeli democracy just held free elections and gave a sound victory to current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The election was tight, so the prime minister drew the lines clear so that Israeli voters would have no doubt who he is compared to his left wing principal opponent. Netanyahu said that under his watch, there would be no Palestinian state. This clarity seemed to open the gap and swept him into office.
But Netanyahu’s bold clarity for his nation’s freedom and security has provoked displeasure from President Obama. The message from the White House is that maybe America will stop supporting Israel in the UN.
According to the White House press secretary, “Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome…. Now our ally in these talks has said they are no longer committed to that solution. That means we need to reevaluate. …what we will do moving forward.”
The West Bank, under the Palestinian Authority, is rated “Unfree” by Freedom House, giving it a rating of 5.5 on their 1-7 scale. The Gaza Strip, where Palestinian Arabs live under control of Hamas, is also rated “Unfree” at 6.5.
Hamas is also officially designated by the United States State Department as a terrorist organization. This past February, a jury in a court in Manhattan found the Palestinian Authority liable for $655.5 million in damages for terrorist acts in Israel in which Americans were killed and injured.
It doesn’t seem so hard to appreciate why the Israeli prime minster, and those who voted for him, are not anxious to turn political autonomy over to their neighbors who demonstrably can’t govern themselves, who are bent on Israel’s destruction, and where terrorism thrives.
When Netanyahu became clear he would not cave to pressure from Washington to support a Palestinian state, Israelis said “thank you” and swept him back to power.
President Obama hesitated congratulating Prime Minister Netanyahu on his victory. Yet, in January, President Obama cut short a trip to India so that he could go to Saudi Arabia and pay respects to their newly installed King Salman.
On Freedom House’s 1-7 rating, Saudi Arabia is rated 7 – as “Unfree” as it gets.
Washington Post reporter Ishaan Tharoor, reporting on President Obama’s Saudi visit, wrote “Saudi Arabia is notorious both for its draconian religious laws and the lack of freedoms afforded to women in Saudi society….On the first day of King Salman’s reign, a public beheading took place in the city of Jiddah.”
So three cheers for Israelis for taking a stand for clarity. For supporting freedom and principles that are American principles.
Last November, Republicans were swept into office, taking decisive control of both house of Congress, many candidates taking similar bold and principled stands for freedom and American values.
President Obama was similarly ungracious and unenthusiastic with regard to that Republican victory as he now is with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s.
Republican leaders should take a close look at what just happened in Israel.
Voters are looking for clarity today and they are looking for leadership.
Leadership that is willing to take a clear and bold stand for freedom and American values.
America needs these kinds of leaders, as does the world.