Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Is the Obama White House overly hostile to Israel?

 


As the war between Israel and Hamas intensified, and Secretary of State John Kerry was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others to try to broker a cease fire, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, while being interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News, proclaimed that the Obama administration was the most hostile to Israel in the history of the U.S.—something Hannity agreed with.

Well, not so fast. Barack Obama may not be the best friend Israel has ever had—some say he makes Jimmy Carter look like Harry Truman—but he is probably no more likely to stab Israel in the back than quite a few of the other commanders-in-chief who preceded him in the Oval Office.

Yes, it’s true that a miffed John Kerry made a caustic comment into an open microphone about Israel’s so-called “precision” bombing of targets in Gaza in which many Palestinian civilians were unintentionally maimed and killed. But, at the same time, when appearing on ABC’s This Week, Kerry followed a taped tirade by Palestinian talking head Hanan Ashrawri—she called what Israel is doing in Gaza a “massacre”—and laid 100 percent of the blame on Hamas.

During that same interview, when This Week host George Stephanopoulis tried to goad Kerry into also faulting Israel, Kerry once again stood firm and became even more strident in his condemnation of Hamas over its rocket attacks and use of human shields.

Compare Kerry to Bill Clinton’s former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, who was doing the talk show circuit at the same time and opined that there was blame to be had on both sides—something Israel’s supporters, especially Republicans, vehemently disagree with.  

Not surprisingly, George W. Bush, like most of the rest of the “religious right,” was unwavering in his support for Israel when he was president; however his father, Bush the elder, while generally supportive of Israel, once threatened to cut loan guarantees to the Jewish State.

Decades earlier, there were also questions as to whether President Richard Nixon—whose secret tapes may have labeled him as an anti-Semite—along with his Machiavellian secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, were intent on letting Israel “bleed a little bit” during the Yom Kippur War, before coming to Israel’s aid, as John Loftus wrote in his book, “The Secret War Against the Jews.”

And while Ronald Reagan was a staunch supporter of Israel, not every one of his advisers apparently shared those views. A reporter once asked Angelo Codevilla, a former senior staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, what was it, exactly, that civilian Naval Intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, now serving a life sentence in prison for spying for Israel, actually passed on to Israelis during the Reagan presidency.

“He gave them that part of the flow of U.S. intelligence they used to receive regularly, but which the U.S. cut off after 1981,” Codevilla said.

Codevilla explained that the U.S. had a long-standing, mutually beneficial intelligence exchange agreement with Israel. In 1981, Israel used some of the information it got from American satellites to strike and destroy Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak. This enraged Admiral Bobby Inman, at the time the deputy director of the CIA, who made the decision, along with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, to—in the words of Codevilla—“cut off a good chunk of the information flow.”

“Because of that strike?” asked the reporter.

“Yes,” Codevilla said. “I was in the U.S. Intelligence Committee hearing room when Bobby Ray Inman came in and told us how outraged he was that Israel had destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor. He told us that the U.S. was engaged in a ‘sophisticated and very successful effort’ to turn Saddam Hussein into a pillar of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

“The Israelis, in their blundering ways, as he put it, had misunderstood Saddam Hussein. They had figured this nuclear reactor posed a danger of Saddam building nuclear weapons. Our CIA ‘knew better than that,’ and was outraged that the Israelis had done this.”

Of course, before Reagan there was Jimmy Carter, who, to this day, seemingly rarely misses an opportunity to jump on any anti-Israel bandwagon and even align himself with radicals in the Muslim world. 

Simply put, there are numerous examples, throughout many presidential administrations, where America’s perceived national interests clashed with those of Israel, creating friction between the two countries—or at least between their leaders. At the same time, the present relationship with Israel is really not so different from that of other administrations going back to modern Israel’s founding in 1948: a sometimes rocky marriage filled with challenges—yet, we as can all agree, a marriage nonetheless.

Elliot Goldenberg is the author of “Spy of David: The Strange Case of Jonathan Pollard and the Two Decade Battle to Win His Freedom.” He lives in Sunrise, Florida.

 

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