If last week’s special election in New York exposed President Obama’s “Jewish problem,” then this week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly will expose how unserious he is about solving it.
The General Assembly session begins today in New York, and Obama will speak on Wednesday. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, when he speaks before the assembly on Friday, is expected to call on the UN to support the creation of a Palestinian state—a state, incidentally, that the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the U.S. says would be totally Jew-free. This blatant call for ethnic cleansing to create a Jew-free country was left uncondemned by the White House.
The Obama administration insists it will veto any UN vote creating a Palestinian state, preferring direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. But Obama’s obsession with side issues, such as housing in East Jerusalem, has made negotiations less likely.
At last year’s General Assembly meeting, Obama said he hoped that “when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations—an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.”
The Palestinians are using Obama’s 2010 speech as part of a media campaign to generate support for their proposal. As Abbas says in a radio commercial about Obama’s support last year for Palestinian membership, “If he said it, he must have meant it.”
All you need to know about America’s diminished clout in the Middle East is that the Palestinians are pushing a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state. Clearly, the Palestinians would never have taken such a provocative step under any other American administration.
“It is a reflection of incompetence as much as anything else—compounded by weakness and indecisiveness,” former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton told Politico last week, adding that the administration was signaling that it was “at best indifferent” to the Palestinian measure.
Even if they don’t achieve full-member status, the Palestinians could well win enough support to upgrade their UN status from an “entity” to a “nonmember state.”
Dismissing the Palestinians’ moves as merely “a distraction,” the Obama administration has saved its loudest criticism for members of Congress who want to keep the UN accountable.
The U.S. provides roughly one-quarter of the UN budget, $7.7 billion in 2010, an increase of more than 25% from 2009. A bill introduced in Congress earlier this month with 52 co-sponsors would block U.S. funds for any UN entity that supports giving the Palestinians an elevated status at the UN. It would also ban U.S. contributions to the UN Human Rights Council, a platform for anti-Israel rhetoric.
Esther Brimmer, assistant secretary of state for international organizations, called the bill “backward” and dismissed as “alarmist” concerns that the UN is at odds with American interests.
No matter what happens at the UN this week, it’s difficult to see how the proceedings will help Obama repair his relationship with American Jews.
Republican Bob Turner’s win last week in the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district exposed how frayed the President’s relationship has become with what used to be one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable groups of voters. Turner, an Irish Catholic, beat Democrat David Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, and attributed his victory in part to Obama’s “treatment of Israel.” Turner’s staunch support of Israel helped him win among the large Orthodox Jewish community in the district.
Many commentators called the election a referendum on Obama’s Israel policy. A pre-election poll found that a plurality of voters said that the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel was “very important” to their vote. Among those voters, Turner held a 71 to 22 point advantage.
It’s not hard to understand why Obama’s relationship with Jews has unraveled. His is the most anti-Israel administration in history. Obama’s Israel policy has been defined by repeated snubs of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the berating of Israel for building new homes for its citizens in its capital, fruitless outreach to Israel’s adversaries, and the requirement that Israel make concessions before peace negotiations can even begin.
Obama’s abandonment of Israel has occurred at a bad time—just as the “Arab Spring” has left Israel anxious about a growing tide of anti-Semitism and militancy in the Arab street.
But it also comes at a time of record support for the Jewish state among Americans. Gallup’s most recent polls show an all-time high of 64% of Americans sympathetic to Israel, compared with just 17% for Palestinians.
According to the New York Times, Obama administration officials are in full damage-control mode. They are mobilizing to repair the President’s relationship with Jewish voters through “outreach campaigns” and the circulation of “talking points” that attempt to put the administration’s record on Israel in a good light.
Obama’s General Assembly speech on Wednesday will doubtless include lots of improved “messaging” about the administration’s policies toward Israel. But until his rhetoric is matched by tangible policy changes, Obama can expect his support to continue to wane among the millions of Americans of all faiths who understand that the U.S. and Israel must stand together against the jihadists who want both of our great nations destroyed.