Who would have thought it would come to this -- the French interceding to block a giveaway deal to Iran on its nuclear weapons program, a deal advanced enthusiastically by the United States? On the other hand, the Obama administration's rapture for a deal that would involve empty Iranian promises in exchange for real hard cash to be released to the mullahs with sanctions relief, is not at all surprising. As Daniel Pipes argued, a second term for U.S. President Barack Obama was bound to lead to this:
"I wrote before the last presidential election that Israel's troubles will really begin should Obama win a second term. At Obama's second inauguration, I predicted that he, freed from re-election constraints, can finally express his early anti-Zionist views after a decade of political positioning. Watch for a markedly worse tone from the second Obama administration toward the third Netanyahu government."
Obama is now finished with elections, unless he seeks the U.N. secretary-general's post (for which he is eminently qualified with his anti-Zionism). He is done fundraising from his many liberal Jewish "friends" in Hollywood and Wall Street, who always cared a lot more for his policies on abortion, or for business favors he could deliver, or ambassadorships, than they did about Israel, assuming they cared about Israel at all.
Nonetheless, Obama made sure to say that "he had Israel's back" and "would stop Iran from securing nuclear weapons," empty words that were enough to clear the very low bar that has been set for those seeking the designation of "pro-Israel" from the organized Jewish community. Obama voted for foreign aid as a senator (like almost all members of the House of Representatives and Senate). He was, therefore, deemed by the Jewish community to be acceptably pro-Israel. The fact that Obama remained a member of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years, to hear his continuous Israel- (and America-) bashing, was simply not a concern for those who wanted to ignore all evidence to the contrary. Now, the president no longer needs to even pretend that Israel's views, or the pro-Israel community's views, matter on issues that concern that nation.
The narcissist-in-chief knows better, as he believes he does on all subjects, and his former teachers on the Middle East have waited a long time for this moment to arrive. The years the president spent with Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifida, Professor Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayers, Edward Said, Wright and other Israel haters, have left their mark on Obama. This is, after all, a man who spent almost all of his adult years living in college campus environments -- in New York's Morningside Heights, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hyde Park, Chicago, locales where the "mainstream" views on Israel in the professors' lounges pretty much match those of the BDS group, Students for Justice in Palestine.
The pro-Israel community tried dutifully to make nice with Obama, defending his paper-thin pro-Israel credentials during his two presidential campaigns, ignoring his Chicago connections with the many Israel haters, and naming his Jewish friends and supporters from Chicago to key positions in important groups, hoping they could influence White House policy. Predictably, these gestures have turned out to be worthless, since Jewish votes and campaign cash are no longer required to propel Obama's political ambitions, and those were the only things Obama ever really wanted from the community.
In the last few weeks, there has been a lot of evidence that the president has become more confident in his ability to excoriate Israel and openly sell it out. A deal with Iran was needed to provide the administration with a distraction from its colossal failure with the Obamacare rollout and the president's repeated lies about the new health care program. The message was teed up: "Forget websites, they can be fixed, think instead of big issues -- a breakthrough with a long-time enemy, Iran, that resolves a nuclear weapons issue peacefully, unlike Bush with Iraq."
But there was more than just the charade in Geneva of Western diplomats trying to look like they were properly skeptical and were fighting for a fair deal with Iran (while they grabbed for signature pens to sign any deal that could be had). There was also Secretary of State John Kerry blaming Israel alone for the impasse in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Of course, you have to be either delusional or stupid to think that somehow a new administration has the magic elixir to bring a peace settlement (the "two-state solution") to the region, after it has eluded many smarter and less naive American administrations before this one. The Palestinians have been unable to reach a deal to reunite Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. But they are ready to make peace with Israel?
Kerry, before rushing off to Geneva to try to get his glamor photo shots with the smiling Iranians for the incipient Iran nuclear deal, felt the need to get in some blasts on the evils of Israeli settlements, asking why Israel was creating new settlements in places where a new Palestinian state would exist. But of course, the recently announced 3,500 units are in Jerusalem and communities next to the Green Line, all of which are in areas that every American president since Oslo has accepted would remain a part of Israel after a peace deal that would include some land exchanges between the parties from the 1967 lines. Is Kerry unaware of this, or has U.S. policy now officially changed?
More startling perhaps were Kerry's thinly veiled threats that if Israel did not bend to U.S. pressure and start making concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians, a third intifada was on the horizon, European sanctions against Israel would come into play, and America might try to impose its own solution on the two sides. Sanctions seemed to be the order of the day for U.S. policy -- freeing Iran from them in exchange for nothing, and threatening Israel with them, unless they make concessions to the Palestinians, also for nothing.
In the past several weeks, the American abandonment of Israel has become established policy. It now appears that Obama began relaxing some sanctions against Iran immediately after the election of President Hasan Rouhani, and prior to any direct contact between the two countries: "A review of Treasury Department notices reveals that the U.S. government has all but stopped the financial blacklisting of entities and people that help Iran evade international sanctions since the election of its president, Hasan Rouhani, in June."
When Israel attacked a convoy of longer range missiles and rockets in Syria headed for Iran's Shiite ally, Hezbollah in Lebanon, American officials leaked news of the attack. This broke a long-established pattern in which neither Israel nor Syria commented on such attacks, thereby allowing both countries to avoid confirming them, and thereby avoiding the need for a Syrian response, and an escalation. Was this another signal to Iran, that the U.S. was moving away from Israel and toward a deal with Iran, or just the latest evidence of the sheer incompetence of the White House foreign policy team?
There are good poker players and others who can read faces or intentions, but no real genius was required to notice the Americans' headfirst lunge into talks with Iran, or the difference between the broad smiles of Americans (and Europeans) when in the company of their new best friends, the Iranian diplomats, or the sour expressions of every official from the EU's pathetically incompetent Catherine Ashton to Kerry when in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Realists should be applauding Netanyahu for calling out the U.S. and others in the negotiating group for letting down their guard in their haste to reach a deal that clearly delivers only for Iran. But the fact that the Israeli prime minister had to so publicly express his displeasure and contact individual members of the Geneva negotiating group, and then show up on Sunday morning U.S. talk shows to express his grave concerns abut a bad deal with Iran, is evidence that the prime minister no longer has an avenue with which to reach the U.S. administration.
The breach that was predicted would occur between Obama and Israel, has occurred, and it has happened entirely at the initiation of Obama. Now it will be up to the U.S. Congress, or amazingly, the French, to stand with Israel. And Israel, of course, understands, as it should have since Obama was first elected, that good relations with him would be transitory, and at the end of the day (his second term), he would stick the knife into a country he never had any real use for, but rather has long considered a guilty party, and more of a problem than an ally. There are 38 long months left in the president's term, and it is a new world for U.S.-Israel relations.