There was a lot to reject in the comments made by President Obama on Friday to the leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, in a webcast sponsored by JFNA. That’s putting it in the mildest possible way.
But we can gain invaluable perspective from focusing on one particular passage in the Q&A session. It illuminates everything else that’s going on, and exposes the brittle emptiness of Obama’s rhetoric – because it betrays the anachronism of his view of the Middle East and Israeli security. It’s as if Obama doesn’t realize it’s not 2009 anymore.
The topic is the security relationship of the U.S. with Israel: how strong it is, and how it can be reenergized. Here’s Michael Siegal, Chairman of Jewish Federations of North America, asking Obama the question (from the White House transcript emailed after the webcast, which the Chicago Sun-Times has here):
Mr. Siegal: … [M]any of the viewers are concerned about the disagreements [over the Iran “deal”]; that the deal may have created some distance…between the governments of the United States and Israel. And our community gets very, very unsettled and very anxious when there is daylight between our positions. And so while we have received hundreds of questions in this regard, what I’d like to ask you — and you made a comment about how do we reenergize and how do we recreate the dialogue that was occurring before this deal — so how do you see us reenergizing the relationship between Israel and the United States?
Obama responds (important section highlighted):
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll be honest with you, I think this is going to happen pretty quick, because we both have a shared interest in not just preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but also making sure that they’re not sending weapons to Hezbollah, that they’re not destabilizing — that Iran is not destabilizing its neighbors. So not only do we have a shared history, shared values, not only are we family, but even on this particular issue of Iran, we agree more than we disagree.
And so, as I indicated earlier, we’ve been in discussions with the Israeli government for months now about the importance of us getting back on track and working together to enhance our security cooperation, to think about, what are the next generations of missile defense programs that we can set up? How do we improve our intelligence and interdiction to prevent arms from being sent to terrorist organizations? How do we counteract Iranian proxies in the region? And those are all things that we should be doing anyway — even if we weren’t having this debate on the Iranian deal.