Loose Canons

Barry’s Bullying Failed With Bibi

The community organizer was no match for the special ops vet.

By 5.23.11

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Barry's Bullying Failed with Bibi

Our community organizer in chief tried his favorite strategy -- bullying -- on the Israeli Prime Minister last week, and discovered to his evident surprise that veterans of the special operations community are not among those who can be intimidated.

Those of us who wondered how Obama would misuse the political capital gained by killing Osama bin Laden were answered on Thursday when Obama took American Middle East policy in a bizarre and dangerous direction. But before we get to that, we need to set the context of Obama's actions.

OBL assumed seabed temperature on May 1. One day later, the leader of the terrorist group Hamas' government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, condemned what he called the "assassination" of bin Laden and -- with due deference to Hamas' family quarrel with al Qaeda, which Haniya said were mere differences in "opinions and agenda" -- he prayed that bin Laden's soul would rest in peace.

After another two days, Hamas (whose charter requires the destruction of Israel) signed a power-sharing agreement with the Palestinian Authority in the cradle of the "Arab Spring," Cairo.

Two weeks after that, on the eve of Netanyahu's arrival, Obama gave a much-ballyhooed speech at the State Department. In it, he rewarded the formation of the Hamas-PA alliance by demanding that Israel make a peace with the Palestinians on which Israel's borders would be its 1967 borders before it was attacked by the Arab nations, with agreed-upon land swaps. That would require Israel to surrender its capital city -- Jerusalem -- to Palestinian control and leave its borders indefensible.

Obama's reasoning -- both clearly stated and implicit in his speech -- is based on the core anti-Israel doctrine that the Arab states have been propagating since the Jewish state was created in 1948. No American president has so clearly abandoned the Israelis.

First, Obama conceded the principal point of Arab propaganda ever since Israel was founded: that there can be no peace about anything in the Middle East until the Palestinians are established in an independent contiguous state. Though George Bush was the first American president to concede to the need for a "contiguous" Palestinian state -- which would require that Israel be cut in two -- Obama made it official U.S. policy.

The Arab states -- as they have made clear by their actions since 1948 -- don't give a damn how the Palestinians suffer, or how many of them are killed in conflict with Israel.

The Palestinians are merely cannon fodder in the never-ending war the Arab nations wage against Israel. They are not a "people" in the sense that the Russians, Chinese, Romanians or French are, though Obama accepts this Arab premise as a basis for his policy.

The Palestinians are fungible Arabs. About 3.7 million live in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, some 2.5 million live in Jordan, 1.5 million in Syria and Lebanon and about a half million in Saudi Arabia. The Arab nations maintain the Palestinians in perpetual "refugee" status, rejecting the idea that they could be citizens of any Arab nation. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and others could have absorbed these people quickly and relieved them of the burden of what Obama called "permanent occupation." But they don't, because they can -- as they have for decades -- indoctrinate, arm, and fund the Palestinians' terrorism against Israel which is of far greater value to the Arab League than any peace would be.

All of those historical facts were the backdrop to Obama's anti-Israeli speech and his meeting with Netanyahu. The president may have believed that Netanyahu is the leader of a nation that is no more than an American vassal state and would fall prey to his bullying.

Obama likes to bully people while they're sitting captive in his audience and can't respond. In the 2010 State of the Union speech, Barry badgered the six Supreme Court justices sitting before him, saying that the Citizens United decision would open the floodgates to foreign corporations' influencing American elections. Five sat there in shock, though Justice Alito visibly mouthed the words "not true" in response to Obama's lie. In his April 13 budget speech, with Republican Paul Ryan in the audience, Obama spun a web worthy of Ted Kennedy, accusing Ryan of authoring a budget that would deprive 50 million Americans of health insurance, keep kids from being educated and basically turn our nation into some dog-eat-dog scrapyard in which children and poor people would die of neglect. Ryan, too much the gentleman, didn't even walk out.

Obama underestimated Netanyahu. The community organizer wasn't prepared, by education or experience, to properly measure his latest adversary.

Netanyahu is, at his core, a special operations warrior. He is a veteran of the elite Sayeret Matkal, an Israeli army unit much like our Delta Force. Netanyahu has been in combat, including his participation in a 1972 hostage rescue raid on a hijacked Sabena Airlines jet.

The Sayeret Matkal are like our spec ops guys. They aren't, as is often said of spies, just like us. I know enough of them to say that they can be picked out of a crowd pretty easily: the way they walk, their wary, continuous measurement of whomever and whatever is around them, their well-earned pride and potential for individual action and bravery. Among the categories of humankind, they are at the top of the "least likely to be bullied" list.

Obama's body language in the post-meeting session with Netanyahu and reporters in the Oval Office said it all. Obama was visibly angered when Netanyahu spoke: he sat, hand across his face, glaring at Netanyahu. His bullying failed and he knew it.

After reiterating the points made in his speech the day before, Obama turned it over to the Israeli PM. Netanyahu treated Obama better than Obama had treated him, the Supreme Court, and Paul Ryan. Without rancor or visible anger, he said that Israel won't go back to the 1967 borders because they are indefensible: not the boundaries of peace but the boundaries of repeated wars because they left an attack on Israel so attractive to its enemies. He said, flatly, that Israel must have a long-term military presence along west bank of the Jordan River.

The Israeli PM went on to say that Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas, echoing what he said after the PA-Hamas agreement was announced. Hamas, he said, is a terrorist organization committed to Israel's destruction, saying that Israel cannot negotiate with what he called the Palestinian version of al Qaeda.

Netanyahu put the burden on Palestinian President Abbas: either negotiate with Israel or keep his pact with Hamas, which Obama had implicitly endorsed.

Addressing the Arab-Palestinian demand -- which no Palestinian leader has ever agreed to compromise -- that Palestinian "refugees" must be allowed the "right of return" to Israel, Netanyahu said that the 1948 war resulted in two refugee problems: Arab refugees and Jewish refugees in roughly equal numbers. Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees while the Arab states expelled them from their lands.

Netanyahu said, "Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel 'accept the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren of these refugees thereby wiping out Israel's future as a Jewish state. It's not going to happen. Everybody knows it's not going to happen. And I think it's time to tell the Palestinians it's not going to happen."

Obama pretended to look at Netanyahu, but couldn't bear to make eye contact. He knew he had failed.

Though Obama failed to bully Netanyahu, one fact is now established: Israel is alone. Obama's speech gives support to the Europeans' anti-Israeli policies. Israel cannot rely on American support even in time of dire need as long as Obama is president.

Tomorrow, Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of Congress. His speech will likely repeat what he told Obama face-to-face on Friday, and for that he will receive thunderous applause and little else.

I recall some guy named Rumsfeld trying to teach us that weakness is provocative. Obama's betrayal of Israel and weakness in dealing with the terror-sponsoring Arab nations will sustain those Arab nations and their Palestinian proxies in their unrelenting terror war on Israel. Thanks to Obama, peace between Israel and the Arabs is far less likely now than it was before the Palestinian Authority became a tool of Hamas.

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.