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Monday, May 11, 2015

By Yokhanan Phaltual

 It was 2009, I first saw Barack Obama in his nationwide televised presidential election campaign speech with the slogan “Change we believe in”. He is a gifted speaker who captivated his audiences. He ran for President as a pro-Israel candidate, but unfortunately his record tells a different story. This President has done more to delegitimize and undermine Israel’s position in the world than any other Presidents of the United States.

 US-Israel relations have been especially tense over the past weeks, with US President giving a particularly cold reception to Israeli Prime Minister’s Binyamin Netanyahu re-election. The many harsh statements that have been made over the past weeks are not in vacuum.

The multi condemnations are indeed a form of revenge from the Obama Administration against Bibi Netanyahu. The White House has three main motives, one revenge for Netanyahu’s speech in Congress (US Parliament). Two, frustration. It is no secret that they were involved in an attempt to bring down Netanyahu. The V15 campaign failed. Three, the US government’s attempt to shift the focus of negotiations with Iran to the Palestinian issue.
Obama’s sensitive relationship with Netanyahu was strained further by comments Netanyahu made in the closing moments of his successful campaign for re-election, saying a Palestinian state would not be established as long as he is Prime Minister. The remarks were widely interpreted as a rejection of the “two-state solution” that has been the basis of talks to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, brokered by the American administrations.

But the day after the elections, Netanyahu was quick to backtrack on his statement, arguing that he was not rejecting a Palestinian statehood in principle, but responding to a reality in which the Palestinian Authority has a political pact with the Islamist group Hamas, under which statehood would be unacceptable. However, Obama is still hurt and cannot get over it.

For  the last six years, Obama has acted as if the biggest threat to American security is the Israeli government and the Likud party, and not Iran, which is on the rampage all the way to the Mediterranean, and even into Yemen, and which is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon. For six years, Obama has failed to develop a relationship of trust and reliable and quiet communication channels with the Israeli Prime Minister. Obama wanted Israel and its PM to bend to his demands, he repeatedly called for Israel to implement “a two-state solution” and return to the suicidal borders of 1967.

 Twelve Jewish Congressmen recently conveyed a massage of cease-and-desist to US President regarding his persistent attacks on Netanyahu after the latter’s re-election. Obama is just upset about what Netanyahu said ruling out a two state solution, but Obama didn’t need to keep reminding them and everyone else. He had to stop acting as if the Israeli PM’s comments are the only thing holding up a peace process that’s been abandoned for a year while not expressing a word of disappointment about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the provocative recognition bid at the United Nations.

 Obama is a bit out of control, as his days in White House are coming to an end in next year, he is desperate to accomplish something on foreign policy, and there is not one thing that the President can say “look what I accomplish”. Only his batch of honour will be the killing of Osama bin Laden during his first tenure as US President.
However, the relationship between Israel and United States is going to be fine despite the personal dispute Obama has fuelled. The American Administration’s treatments of the Jewish State sometimes have bumps on the road. Israel’s defiance of a US’s president is not new. And it is not the first time a President threatens or refused to support Israel when the Israeli PM deny to submit to the US demands.

Harry S. Truman was a great friend of Israel and good comrade of Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel. He was a key figure in the establishment of Medinat Israel. Still, when Israel was fighting for its very life in 1948, Truman imposed a crippling arms embargo that put the nascent Jewish state at a disadvantage against Arabs forces that has no difficulty obtaining arms. In 1956 Suez war, President Dwight D. Eisenhower vigorously opposed Israel’s involvement and threatened to cut off all aid to Israel if PM David Ben Gurion did not withdraw from the conquered Sinai area. Ultimately, Ben Gurion gave in the pressure in exchange for US guarantees to prevent Egyptian belligerence in the future.
When it became clear in 1967 (Six Day war) that Israel-Arab war is imminent, President Lyndon B. Johnson told Israeli PM Levi Eshkol that US would not support Israel. True to his word, after Israel struck Egypt and its allies, the US imposed arms embargo. In 1975 President Gerald Ford announced his intention to reassess relation with Israel to coerce PM Golda Meir into signing an agreement with Israel that at that time was heavily tilted toward Egypt.  In June 1981 President Ronald Reagan had withheld promised warplanes to Israel to punish it for destroying Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor and voted to condemn the action of Israeli PM Menachem Begin in the United Nations Security Council. Reagan also publicly criticized Begin in July 1982 bombing of the PLO headquarters in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut. And George W. Bush opposed loan guarantees because of Israeli settlement activity in West Bank and Gaza. He allowed Hamas terrorist organization to participate in Gaza election despite the objections of Israel.

The relationship between Obama and Netanyahu is not an exceptional; it constitutes rather a fulsome case in point. Obama and Netanyahu dislike each other over significant strategic portfolios of peace process issues, Syria, Gaza and Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iraq, Yemen, and above all Iran. The White House’s use of gutter language “chicken shit” to describe PM Netanyahu is a prolific evidence of the anti-Israel administration of Obama.

It is still doubtful over whether Obama is interfering in Israeli elections in seeking regime change. The organization V15 (Victory in 2015) sprang up with the sole purpose of bringing down Netanyahu’s premiership to an end. V15 had brought on board Jeremy Bird, national field director for Obama’s 2012 election campaign. And V15 is explicitly campaigning for Herzog-Livni’s Zionist Union in partnership with OneVoice, an American non-profit organization that has close connectivity with Obama. 
We have to keep in mind Obama’s background. The people he surrounded himself during his election campaign include Prof. Rashid Khalidi, who was once a mouthpiece for Hamas. Barack Obama’s father was a Muslim from Kenya (Africa) and his mother was an American Christian from Kansas (US). Obama adopted a Muslim middle name ‘Hussein’. Only after he became politically ambitious did he declare himself to be a Christian, yet he never replaced his Muslim name ‘Hussein’.

Obama is hurt because his plan of making ‘lekhaim’ in the White House with Yitzkhak Herzog after the Israeli election is over is not going to happen. He is a bit out of control because he could not bring Israel under his command to solve the long outstanding Middle East problem. Anyway, the fallout between Obama and Netanyahu will not jeopardise the US-Israel relations as at the end of the day the ties between the two countries will continue to be strong and vibrant. Israel is the closest allies of the United States in the entire Middle East, Israel is the only country in the Middle East which shares the same democratic values and definitely America’s truest friend and one and only trustworthy ally in the region.  

This time around is the Jewish holiday of Passover. Obama need to pass-over his self-ego and pride of being the most powerful President in the world. He should read the writing on the wall- Don’t behave like Pharaoh.

Barack Hussein Obama may pursue in his election slogan ‘Change we believe in’, but he should also know and believe in positive change. He should restore the Washington-Jerusalem relationship until the end of his second and last term in Oval office in January 2017. Otherwise, he will go down in history as the most anti- Israel President of the United States.

Khag kasher v’sameakh to all readers of this Magazine.

## The writer is a contributor of articles to the leading English newspaper ‘The Sangai Express’ and ‘Eimi Times’ in Manipur.   

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