President Obama and his administration reacted to the criticism of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s comments with shock and dismay. On Tuesday, Ya’alon stated, “I hear voices of disappointment in the region. (Referring to the Middle East and Sunni-Shiite relations) I was in Singapore, and I heard disappointment at the strengthening of China and the weakening of the United States. Look what’s happening in the Ukraine; there, to my sorrow, the U.S. is broadcasting weakness.”
The White House Administration responded to the criticism with the following statement,
“We were shocked by Moshe Ya’alon’s comments, which seriously call into question his commitment to Israel’s relationship with the United States. Moreover, this is part of a disturbing pattern in which the Defense Minister disparages the US administration, and insults its most senior officials.”
Apparently, the US official sees no hypocrisy in this claim given the harsh treatment President Obama dealt to Israel in a recent meeting between himself and Prime Minister Netanyahu. On the eve of the meeting between the two shaky allies, Obama gave an interview with Jeffery Goldberg in which he offered some harsh criticism. During the interview Obama said his statements to Netanyahu in regards to the Palestinian situation would be as follows, “If not now, then when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then Who?” Obama continued that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach.”
One would imagine that such statements would be welcomed by Netanyahu or the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC is a pro-Israeli lobbying group which has attempted to pressure the U.S. to act more aggressively in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. President Obama has pushed back against such moves and has been angered by what he sees as attempts to undercut his policy negotiations with Iran.
It is difficult for the United States to fully grasp the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel. Iran and its leadership have long held contemptuous views of Israel. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was alleged to have threatened to“wipe Israel off the map”. Though many dispute this claim and state it is only an attempt to enflame Jewish sentiment. What cannot be disputed is what Ahmadinejad said on his visit to the United States and the U.N. in 2012. He issued the statement that Israel would be “eliminated”. See the video here:
Obama should not be surprised that AIPAC has increased pressure on his administration to act on their homeland’s behalf. They may have read his book, The Audacity of Hope, and found his remarks on page 261 troubling. While referencing the aftermath of 9/11 and the mistrust towards American Arabs and Pakistani Americans, he famously penned, “I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” We cannot know what President Obama meant by that statement because he was never called to explain. One is left to interpret for themselves the meaning of his statement. For the Israeli Americans, it is a disturbing threat that conjures visions of anti-Semitism not seen since the days of the Holocaust.
There is a verse in Proverbs 27:2 which says, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” This wisdom tends to suggest that what we think of ourselves is important but what the world thinks of us is more impressive. So, if we think we are strong and effective as a world leader, what does it say when the world we claim to lead, says we are weak?