I have to say, I am developing an increasing appreciation for Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) chief Morton Klein. He is one of the very few establishment Jewish leaders in the United States willing to face the truth about the Obama administration and face that truth head-on. The cultural environment within the ZOA seems to be far more brave and far more bold than any other established pro-Israel / pro-Jewish organization in the United States. In a recent piece for The Algemeiner magazine, co-written by Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy, Dr. Daniel Mandel, the ZOA asks some very hard questions.
Klein and Mandel write:
Earlier this month, it leaked that Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, had privately described Secretary of State John Kerry as “obsessive and messianic” in his quest to broker an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement. The Obama Administration angrily rejected Ya’alon’s words as “offensive and inappropriate,” demanding and receiving an apology.
Yet, only weeks earlier, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a close adviser to Fatah/Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, also excoriated John Kerry as possessed of “dangerous” proposals and seeking to “appease Israel by fulfilling its expansionist demands in the Jordan Valley under the pretext of security. He wants to buy Israeli silence over the Iran deal.” But for these grave, personal PA allegations against Kerry, the Obama Administration has said nothing.
Why this startling discrepancy in the Administration’s response?
Why, indeed? That is an excellent question.
The answer that Klein and Mandel offer is to my mind rather kind to the Obama administration.
Klein and Mandel write:
Because the Administration will not assimilate evidence that invalidates its public formula that the Palestinians are willing to conclude a genuine peace with Israel. So it ignores or finesses PA anti-peace words and deeds, while stridently criticizing Israel on disagreements and reluctance to make unilateral concessions.
This interpretation is a perfectly reasonable one, particularly because it sees Obama Administration political self-interest as the primary cause for the administration’s hypocrisies, inconsistencies, and double-standards toward the Jewish State of Israel.
I do not believe that Klein and Mandel’s explanation is quite sufficient, however.
It is certainly part of the equation that explains the Obama administration’s moral inconsistencies in pressuring the Jews and soft-pedaling the Arabs in the Middle East, but I do not believe it represents the entire answer.
When in March 2010, during a visit to the region by Vice-President Joseph Biden, the PA named a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, the leader of the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking in which 37 Israelis, including 12 childrren, were slaughtered, the Obama Administration was silent for days. When Clinton belatedly criticized the Mughhrabi event, it was only to whitewash the PA by falsely claiming “a Hamas-controlled municipality” had initiated it.
In contrast, a mere Israeli announcement of a building program in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem that also occurred during the Biden visit led the Obama Administration to immediately condemn it and describe it as “destructive,’ an “insult,” and an “affront.”
So, the question becomes, what explains Obama Administration double-standards toward Israel?
Klein and Mandel believe that it is primarily due to Obama’s political self-interest. That may very well be the case, but there is no reason to believe that the administration acts out of singular reasons. The question that I would ask is, to what extent is Obama administration double-standards toward Israel due to the calculations of political self-interest and to what extent is it due to ideological predisposition?
All political administrations are practical to varying degrees and no political administration, anywhere, can come to authority without a firm practical grounding in the political realities around it. The same is obviously true of Barack Obama’s administration. Klein and Mandel are likely correct that the administration “will not assimilate evidence that invalidates it public formula” because to do so will undermine public support. This is why politicians so rarely come out and say, “Frankly, I was wrong.”
I would like to suggest a probable contributing factor to Obama’s noxious double-standard toward Israel:
Barack Obama comes out of an ideological orientation that views people of color as so inferior that they simply cannot be held to normal standards of human decency. The irony of this is rich, poignant, and terribly sad. The progressive-left, as a movement, holds non-white, non-western people in such low regard that they cannot be held responsible for their own words or behavior. This is a part of the reason – and perhaps a very big part of the reason – that the Obama Administration absolutely refuses to hold dictator Abbas and his people responsible for virtually anything and why it continually pressures and castigates the Jewish Israelis.
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth-century the left did a very good job in fighting off right-wing racism within Europe and the United States.
I wonder when it will get around to dissolving the current form of left-wing racism that infuses its own ranks?
Michael Lumish is the editor of Israel Thrives.