At Large

Obama and Israel: The Silence of ‘Friends’

Pay attention to what he does, not what he now claims.

By 2.22.12

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Oscar Wilde noted "true friends stab you in the front." Which explains why President Obama-- the self-proclaimed "best friend Israel ever had" -- has decided to cut funding for the Jewish state's missile defense system at the same time he wants to restore funding to UNESCO. (Israel's best friends will remember that the President was forced to cut support to the traditional anti-Israel agency by federal law because the organization recognized the Palestinian Authority as a state.)

If that wasn't enough evidence of the President's "unshakeable bond" with Israel, these policy decisions come exactly at the same time Israel is engaged in a cold, covert war against Iran and making preparations for a possible strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. As the song goes, "That's what friend are for."

The president really believes -- as a friend -- that Israel should do nothing with regard to Iran except boost its ability to defend against a nuclear attack and focus on reaching a peace treaty with the Palestinian authority. President Obama still believes that the key to neutralizing Iran and its alliance with Hamas and Hezbollah is for Israel to cut itself down to the size and shape of the Palestinians' liking.

What is Israel to make of the fact that as the Syrian regime continues to murder people with the help of Iranian technicians and military equipment, senior officials in the administration have said almost nothing about the killing? Instead, the administration is focusing all of its diplomatic and military acumen on discouraging Israel from doing anything to figure out ways to reduce the number of people that could be slaughtered by Iranian aggression.

It is a hallmark of the administration's "friendship" with Israel that is knows slightly more about Israel's strategy and thinking on Iran than it does about when North Korean dictators die. Israel has not decided to launch a full-scale aerial assault on Iran nuclear sites. An attack could and would take multiple forms. It will engage in asymmetrical activities that no one outside of a small circle of individuals knows about. It could be more like the raid on Entebbe than the bombing of the nuclear reactors in Syria and Iraq. Or it could be both. In any scenario no one outside of Israel and its covert agents in Iran, Syria, and elsewhere will know how or when it will happen. If at all.

There is one element of the effort to go after Iran that is certain: No one in Israel's chain of command believes the Obama administration will support pre-emptive military operations, whether they be against Hamas, Hezbollah, or Iran.

It's not just the White House being clueless about the situation. If Iran will assist Assad in killing Syrian civilians by the tens of thousands, what would it do to damage and destroy Israel if it had the chance? Rather, it is the fact that the President truly believes demanding more from Israel and little from the Palestinians is the key to lasting peace. Which is why when touting his administration's military aid to Israel, it is always about defensive systems. And it's why he can square cutting funding for such programs with restoring funding to UNESCO as well as a multi-billion-grant program to support the "Arab Spring."

Recently the White House released a 7-minute video touting that "unbreakable bond." Apart from the fact that it full of misinformation and inaccuracies (e.g., its brazen claim that the U.S. strongly supported Israel when it was maligned by the UN's Goldstone Report; or the shameless way it takes Netanyahu's comments after a meeting with Obama out of context), two things stand out: It exalts as special the usual rhetoric about Israel's right to exist. And even then, as the American Thinker pointed out: It is only 7 minutes long. That's because it overlooks all the attacks on Israel's efforts to protect its borders and augment its pre-emptive options. If they were included, it wouldn't just be a video -- it would be a mini-series.

Most telling, especially at a time when Israel clearly is preparing to step up its ongoing assault on Iranian assets, is what Obama has not said and done. As Martin Luther King put it: "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

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About the Author
Robert M. Goldberg is vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and founder of Hands Off My H ealth, a grass roots health care empowerment network. His is new book, Tabloid Medicine: How the Internet is Being Used To Hijack Medical Science For Fear and Profit, was published last month by Kaplan.