Obama Must Act Fast to Improve Relations With Israel

Tuesday, 24 Aug 2010 08:23 AM

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Charles M. Blow’s Op-Ed in The New York Times caught my eye over the weekend. It was titled, “Oy Vey, Obama.” His piece began, “Is President Obama good for the Jews? For more and more Jewish-Americans, the answer is no.”

Blow pointed out that “in 2008, the ratio of Democratic Jews to Republican Jews was far more than three to one. Now it’s less than two to one.”

He also stated that “some of the president’s most ardent critics and some of Israel’s staunchest American defenders — two groups that are by no means mutually exclusive — have seized on what they see as the administration’s unfair and unbalanced treatment of Israel and have taken their denunciations to the extremes.”

I have condemned the president’s orchestrated campaign to reduce the standing of Israel in the world.

That dangerous and ill-advised campaign has included the denunciations of Israel by Vice President Joe Biden when he recently visited that country, the tirade leveled at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a 43-minute telephone call, as well as the discourteous treatment President Obama accorded Prime Minister Netanyahu at a White House meeting.

I said at the time, once the trust between Israel and the U.S. has been breached, like Humpty Dumpty, it can never be put together again.

Supporters of Israel have also been angered by the president’s signing of an international agreement singling out Israel as a special culprit under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel was urged to sign the treaty, requiring that it give up its current nuclear capability.

Does it make sense for Israel to give up its nuclear capability while Iran draws even closer to achieving that capability and has publicly threatened to obliterate Israel?

Pakistan has the nuclear bomb. Does the world worry that Pakistan will sometime in the future provide the bomb to terrorists, including Islamic terrorists?

North Korea has the nuclear bomb given to it by the father of the Pakistan nuclear bomb. Why did President Obama succumb (the first time an American president has) to the pressures of the Muslim world with Egypt in the lead and thereby threaten Israel’s security?

Blow states, “Fair or not their criticisms are crystallizing into a shared belief among many: Obama is burning bridges with the Jewish community in order to build bridges to the Muslim world.”

He points out that in 2008 Obama “captured 78 percent of the Jewish vote.” The McLaughlin poll in April showed “only 42 percent of American Jews would vote to re-elect President Obama.”

Blow referred to a statement that I made in April: “I have been a supporter of President Obama and went to Florida for him, urged Jews all over the country to vote for him, saying he would be just as good as John McCain on the security of Israel. I don’t think it’s true anymore.”

What should President Obama do to try to restore trust between the U.S. and Israel, and to try to regain some confidence among American Christian and Jewish supporters of Israel?

He should visit Israel. He should have done so when he first took office. Instead, his first international trip was to Cairo in 2009 where, in his first major speech on international affairs, he sought to establish a new and closer relationship with the Muslim world.

It is not too late for him to make a trip to Israel and to personally reassure the Israelis and their supporters that he means it when he says that Israel’s security will never be breached.

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