The White House’s Latest Slight to Israel’s Supporters

April 9 2015

Upon reaching a nuclear agreement with Iran, the administration dispatched Colin Kahl, national-security adviser to Joseph Biden, to reassure prominent American Jewish leaders about the deal. The choice of representative, argues Lee Smith, was a deliberate slight and a sign of the downgrading of U.S.-Israel relations:

Kahl was the administration official who removed the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel from the 2012 Democratic platform. And it was as a scholar at the . . . Center for New American Security that Kahl floated a 2013 trial balloon hinting that the administration’s policy [toward Iran] was, contrary to President Barack Obama’s promises, not prevention of an Iranian nuclear bomb but containment and deterrence of it. As it turns out, this was the exact same policy Kahl outlined to American Jewish leaders last week, in what amounts in policy circles to a victory lap. . . .

But even if Kahl didn’t have a long personal history as the administration’s point man on the downgrade-Israel beat, the fact that President Obama sent the vice president’s aide to brief Jewish leaders on an issue of vital concern to them suggests how little the commander-in-chief now respects or fears the power of a community he once courted so assiduously. . . . [Y]ou can bet it didn’t take President Obama six years to comprehend the political import of James Baker’s famous observation about the Jewish community’s voting patterns. . . . The president could stick it to the Jews since they’d vote for Democrats no matter what.

President Obama was able to hammer away at AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby largely because the liberal segments of the Jewish community found it convenient to believe that the president’s target was just Benjamin Netanyahu, the stubborn and arrogant right-wing prime minister who drove decent people crazy. . . . What these community leaders seemed not to have fully understood is that American Jewish political power is linked not just to the financial power of Jewish donors or the influence of Jewish voters in a few key cities but more fundamentally to the strategic importance of the America-Israel relationship. What they certainly did not see is that tension with Bibi served President Obama very nicely in a much bigger strategic move, which was the main aim of the president’s Middle East policy since 2009: namely, to downgrade the U.S. alliance with Israel in order to make room for America’s new can-do regional partner, Iran.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: AIPAC, American Jewry, Barack Obama, Iranian nuclear program, Israel & Zionism, US-Israel relations


President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process