Obama Was the Most Pro-Israel President Since Truman

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“Netanyahu invariably repaid Obama’s generosity with ingratitude and abuse.” (photo: Stuxnet Documentary, LLC / BBC)

Believe it or not, Barack Obama had Israel’s best interest at heart. Trump, on the other hand, will drive a stake through hopes of peace.

By Avi Shlaim / The Guardian
January 17, 2017


That Obama detests Netanyahu is common knowledge. What is less well known is that Obama’s personal antipathy towards the prime minister co-exists with a genuine commitment to the welfare and security of the Jewish state.


America has not one but two special relationships: one with Britain and one with Israel. When the two clash, the alliance with Israel usually trumps the one with Britain, as Tony Blair discovered to his cost in 2003. For the sake of the special relationship Blair dragged Britain into a disastrous war in Iraq, but in the aftermath of the war his American allies reneged on their promise to push Israel into a settlement with the Palestinians. Blair was no match to the power of the Israel lobby in the US. With American complicity, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has now reached its 50th year and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

American politicians of both parties often use the mantra that the bond with Israel is unbreakable. But Israel’s continuing drift to the right has imposed serious strains on the relations with its principal ally and chief benefactor. In America, Israel is essentially an issue in domestic politics rather than foreign policy. And it is the subject of deep disagreement between the outgoing Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration.

Things came to a head following the passage of UN Security Council resolution 2334 on December 23 with 14 votes in support and only the US abstaining. The resolution condemns Israel’s settlements on the West Bank as a flagrant violation of international law; demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”; and reiterates the international consensus in favor of a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Obama administration allowed the resolution to be adopted because by their lights it was not anti-Israeli but, on the contrary, essential for preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic country. For them this was a last-ditch attempt to arrest Israel’s slide towards apartheid and to preserve the possibility of a peaceful solution. In this respect the resolution was entirely consistent with US policy since 1967 in viewing Israeli settlements on occupied land as illegal and as an obstacle to peace.

For Benjamin Netanyahu, however, the UN resolution was like a red rag to a bull. He lashed out in all directions, cancelling an aid program to Senegal; telling the New Zealand foreign minister that this resolution was tantamount to a declaration of war; summoning the ambassadors of the other countries who voted for the resolution for a dressing-down on Christmas Day; vowing to curtail funding for five UN institutions “that are particularly hostile towards Israel”; “punishing” Theresa May, one of the most pro-Israeli leaders in Europe, by cancelling a meeting with her in Davos; and accusing the Obama administration of treachery.

That Obama detests Netanyahu is common knowledge. What is less well known is that Obama’s personal antipathy towards the prime minister co-exists with a genuine commitment to the welfare and security of the Jewish state.

[Read the full article here . . . ]

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