Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Has President Obama Been a Friend to Israel?

Since returning home from our adventure in Spain and Morocco I have neglected to post items of interest on my blog. Below you will see the first of more to come.

Often President Obama has been accused of not demonstrating appropriate friendship toward Israel. This was especially true during the debate over whether to approve the internationally negotiated deal with Iran in which the U.S. was lead negotiator. We all remember that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted the invitation offered by Congressional Republicans to address a joint session in which he made his case. The clear purpose of the invitation and the acceptance was to publicly embarrass the American president. Repeatedly in the recent Republican candidates' debates for president, Obama was taken to task for not sufficiently supporting Israel, our lone democratic ally in the Middle East.

I find that accusation very troubling and not in accord with the facts. Many security experts in Israel publicly disagreed with the Israeli prime minister, claiming that the negotiated deal with Iran while not perfect would prevent Iran from putting together a nuclear weapon for at least 15 years and perhaps longer. This was most unusual since Israeli experts at this level rarely take public issue with their prime minister. Though possessing no expertise I personally found the arguments of these experts more compelling than that of Netanyahu.

Then this week in an op-ed criticizing the "no nothings" (the author's designation) who support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, Roger Cohen included the following which I think more accurately summarizes Obama's relationship to Israel and the lack of appropriate gratitude from the Israeli administration over the last eight years:

"Speaking of Israel, Trump says, “President Obama has not been a friend to Israel.” Right, he has not been a friend to the tune of over $20.5 billion in foreign military financing since 2009. He has not been a friend by providing over $1.3 billion for the Iron Dome defense system alone since 2011. He has not been a friend by, in 2014, opposing 18 resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly that were biased against Israel; by helping to organize in 2015 the first U.N. General Assembly session on anti-Semitism in the history of the body; and by working tirelessly on a two-state peace, not least on the security arrangements for Israel that are among its preconditions. He has not been a friend by turning the other cheek in the face of what Nancy Pelosi once called “the insult to the intelligence of the United States” from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu."

President Obama has demonstrated enormous patience with an intransigent Israeli administration. He will be remembered as a great friend and ally to the State of Israel.