That’s what happens when an American president struggles in the polls during an election year and is being slammed by Republican candidates who issue declarations commensurate with Israel’s Right. After the Greater Israel-style statements of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, all that Barack Obama could do at this time is to toe Likud’s line.
Benjamin Netanyahu would not have written a better speech about a small state surrounded by enemies, and Obama would not have delivered this speech had his campaign not faced difficulties in fundraising among Jews and had he not feared that he could lose Florida and Pennsylvania, where the Jewish vote plays a significant role.
Even without his speech at the UN General Assembly, Obama is a pro-Israel president no less than his White House predecessors. Those who think that Obama underwent a metamorphosis and that from now on we shall see a US president who was properly converted to Judaism in an Orthodox ceremony in Brooklyn should wake up.
While Obama spoke out against settlement construction, when the issue was brought up for a vote at the Security Council in February he ordered US envoy Susan Rice to veto a condemnation of Israel over the issue. That happened when his status in the polls was less desperate. This time around Obama also ordered a Security Council veto should the Palestinian bid win a majority, and on Wednesday he delivered a Zionist speech.
The truth is that Obama is a pro-Israel president who since January 2009 has granted the Jewish state all possible assistance, both diplomatically and in security terms. Hence, the deliberate smearing against him is insulting.
Correcting the mistake
However, Obama, who in his UN speech last year vowed that a Palestinian state would be established within a year, made a crude mistake when he publically demanded that Israel halt settlement construction, thereby prompting Abbas to adopt tough positions that he could not withdraw from.
On Wednesday, the US president returned to the UN General Assembly a much more experienced and much less arrogant man, uttering statements that appeared as though they were faxed to his office by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office:
"Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them.”
Had these sentences been presented earlier, with four possible options for the person who uttered them, one would not be betting on Obama.
Five minutes after Obama delivered his speech, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) claimed that all the "political chatter" questioning the American president’s support for Israel should end once and for all. “As he has proven throughout his presidency, President Obama supports Israel and its people instinctively. Israel truly has no better friend in the world today," NJDC leader David Harris wrote. This is the story of Obama’s UN speech in a nutshell.
Perry continues to slam Obama from the Right, but we better keep in mind that in the 2000 election campaign George W. Bush also vowed to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, yet later became the man who pushed Ariel Sharon to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. He is also the president who stood next to Abbas and declared that negotiations should start from the 1949 armistice lines – identical lines to the Obama vision for talks on the basis of the 1967 borders and land swaps.
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