Jewish Leaders Disturbed by Obama's Israel Policy

Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010 01:03 PM

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The president of the World Jewish Congress has written a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to end friction with Israel and to take action against Iran's nuclear ambitions.

He joins a cadre of Jewish leaders including Elie Wiesel who are raising their voices over Obama's Israel policy.

The letter, written by WJC President Ronald S. Lauder on April 15, urges Obama “to confront the real challenges that we face together . . . ensuring Iran does not get nuclear weapons.”

The letter displayed anxiety over the change Obama has imposed on U.S. foreign policy.

“Our concern grows to alarm as we consider some disturbing questions,” Lauder wrote. Among the issues was the administration’s inclination to blame Israel for stalled Middle East peace talks, when “it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate,” he wrote.

“The administration’s desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known,” Lauder added, “but is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.”

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel has joined the effort by taking out a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post on Friday to express his anguish over Obama’s assault on Israel’s right to build housing for Jews in Jerusalem.

“Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory,” Wiesel wrote. The Jewish capital is “the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.”

While he didn’t mention Obama by name, Elie Wiesel’s message was crystal clear: hands off Jerusalem, Mr. President.

The growing friction between the Obama administration and Israel has begun to have an impact on American Jewish voters, who supported Obama by 78 percent in the 2008 election, according to exit polls.

A new McLaughlin poll released last week shows that among Jews who voted for Obama only 42 percent would vote for him again, while 46 percent would consider voting for someone else.

Some advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believe that the Obama administration displayed “amateurism” when it attacked Israel over Israel’s announcement last month that it was expanding an existing Jewish community in Jerusalem.

Members of the inner security Cabinet tell Newsmax they fear that Obama’s outward hostility toward Israel is real and deep-rooted. And they are baffled by Obama’s stubborn refusal to give up his failed policy of reaching out to an Iranian regime that has consistently met those overtures with a clenched fist.

Netanyahu’s advisers should realize by now that “no additional Israeli concession would change Obama’s position on Iran from engagement to confrontation,” says former Israeli ambassador and conservative commentator Yoram Ettinger.

Similar concerns over the administration’s failed outreach to Iran were voiced in an unusual bipartisan letter sent to the president on April 16 by 80 members of the U.S. Senate and 366 members of the House of Representatives — more than three-quarters of the entire Congress.

The House letter was co-authored by Rep. Mike Pence, leader of the Republican Conference, and by Democratic member Rep. Jesse L. Jackson of Illinois, the first time the two have cooperated on anything.

Both letters urged the president to “join with those allies who are prepared for action to immediately impose crippling sanctions on Iran," adding that only such action "offers the prospect of persuading Tehran to turn away from its dangerous course."

The authors called on the president to publicly reaffirm that America "can and will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability,” and pointed out that both houses of Congress have passed tough new sanctions bills.

Legislation to impose a cutoff on refined petroleum exports to Iran passed the House with 412 votes in October and passed the Senate unanimously in January. But the White House has lobbied its congressional supporters hard to keep it from becoming law.

Members of Congress tell Newsmax they were “stunned and dismayed” that the two day “nuclear summit” convened by Obama last week failed to mention Iran even once.

Ray Takeyh, a former White House adviser who has consistently opposed taking tough measures against Tehran and has opposed sanctions, has now joined critics who believe the president has to step up to the plate on Iran.

“The notion that the incumbent Arab regimes are reluctant to collaborate with the United States on Iran because of the prevailing impasse in the peace process is a misreading of regional realities,” Takeyh wrote in an Op-Ed last week.

“The Arab states, particularly the Persian Gulf sheikdoms, have an odd policy toward Iran. In private, as any visiting American dignitary can attest, they decry Iran's ambitions, fear its accelerating nuclear program and even hint at the advisability of using military force against its atomic installations. Yet they are loath to be part of an aggressive strategy.”

By picking a public fight with Israel, President Obama’s is creating an impression among Iran’s leaders that the U.S.-Israel alliance has weakened, and that Israel will not strike Iran without a green light from the U.S. “Such perceptions cheapen Israeli deterrence and diminish the potency of the West's remaining sticks,” Takeyh wrote, urging the U.S. administration to reaffirm its close ties to Israel.

Israeli deputy prime minister Dan Meridor told Newsmax in an exclusive interview that Arab regimes “will lose confidence that America can save them” if the United States does not stand up to Iran and take strong steps to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick wrote recently that Arab leaders view Israel as a possible “strong horse” that could defeat the rising Shiite axis led by Iran, but that “as the US under Obama abdicates its leadership role in world affairs by turning on its allies and attempting to appease its foes,” they are beginning to have doubts in America.

“Israel is the Sunnis' only hope for beating back the Shiite alliance,” Glick wrote. “If Israel does not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, then the likes of Kings Abdullah of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak are going to be forced to accept Iran as the regional hegemon.”

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