President Obama is not popular among Israeli Jews. A few days ago, a poll asked which presidential candidate would be preferable concerning Israel's interests. Fifty-seven percent of Israeli Jews preferred Romney, while 22% said Obama. Among Israeli Arabs, Obama was the preferred candidate.
Yet the Obama administration has been supportive of Israel, after an initially hesitant period. It expressed itself in supplying military equipment, fighting the cyber war and broad strategic collaboration. This cooperation has been praised by Israel's senior leaders. The United States has also consistently supported Israel in the United Nations. Obama also personally intervened in the life-threatening situation for Israel's embassy personnel in Cairo during the Egyptian mob attack in September 2011.
Many of President Obama's actions have thus been supportive of Israel. One reason that they may not have had much effect upon Israeli Jews is his image as an internationally weak president, which is also very bad for Israel. Even if part of America's weakness is due to perception only, that translates into reality. It invites provocation by the US' enemies. One sees this in the posturing of Iranian leaders, the world's leading supporters of terrorism.
Also highly problematic is President Obama's view of the situation among radical Islamists. Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism found that many known radical Muslims have made hundreds of visits to the Obama White House, meeting with top administration officials. To illustrate his basic attitude toward the Muslim world, one can analyze Obama's Cairo speech in 2009. Obama expressed apologetics and appeasement and understated the major criminality within the Muslim world.
Obama applied double standards through omissions of many important facts. He said that it was time to put a halt to Israeli settlements. He did not say, "It is time for Egypt and many other Muslim states to stop the murderous anti-Semitic incitement against Jews. This hate-mongering is also widely spread in Egyptian government media. It was equaled only by Nazi Germany." He did not say, "Stop the death penalty." When he spoke about equality for women he did not say, "In many Muslim countries there are extreme cases of discrimination against women. This should be halted." Obama did not speak about the incitement against and persecution of Christians in a variety of Muslim countries. Nor did he say, "In the new century we have not seen any other terror attack on the scale of 9/11 which was driven by the religious conviction of major criminals."
Another omission was when he stated that civilization owed a debt to Al Azhar without mentioning prominent Muslim clerics who support suicide terrorism. When he spoke about the Palestinians, he said, "The Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland." That statement contains many fallacies. The largest part of the Palestinian Mandate is Jordan, a state with a Palestinian majority. The Palestinians were granted a second state through a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1947. Yet it was not good enough for them and their Arab allies. They preferred to start a war to attempt to massacre the Jews in what became Israel. Until 1967, they could have publicly asked their Arab "brethren" for a second state when the Palestinian territories were controlled by Jordan and Egypt.
After the Arab defeat in 1967, the Palestinians could have once again obtained a second state. Yet they preferred to continue their fight to eliminate Israel. While Obama didn't mention the suffering of Christians in Muslim lands, he did mention the suffering of Palestinian Christians, without stating that this was mainly caused by Palestinian Muslims.
Obama also said things about the Muslim world in Cairo which were closer to lies than to half-truths. To state that "in our times many Muslim communities have been in the forefront of innovation" does not reflect the reality of the Muslim world. Tiny Israel has won more Nobel prizes than all Muslims put together, while there are about two hundred times more Muslims than Israelis.
The only area where major innovation has emerged from the extremist parts of the Muslim world is 'creative terrorism.' In this framework the Palestinians have also made a substantial contribution in inventing new modes of terror. If there were a Nobel Prize for terrorism, top candidates would be Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and various other Palestinian groupings as well as the initiators of 9/11.
It is probably due to Obama's attitude toward highly problematic extremist Islamists, the betrayal of long time political allies such as Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his perceived international weakness that a majority of Israeli Jews continue to feel uncomfortable with him as president. One wonders to what extent Obama has genuinely abandoned the appeasing and apologetic spirit he exhibited in Cairo, or whether much of it will re-appear if he is reelected.
Manfred Gerstenfeld is a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, of which he has been chairman for12 years.