April 20, 2010
It appears that President Obamas support with prominent Jews may be under severe strain. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch has blasted Obama on several occasions recently over the presidents relentlessly anti-Israeli policies. The articles appeared in: 1) Israel National News on March 25; 2) Huffington Post on March 30; 3) and, Huffington Post on April 12.
In the April 12th piece, the ex-mayor asserted that the president was trying to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish state and its leaders that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israels needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch. Koch also asserted, I believe President Obamas policy is to create a whole new relationship with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq as a counter to Iran The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Muslim world which we are now prepared to see in possession of a nuclear weapon. If throwing Israel under the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.
In the opening paragraph of his March 30th piece, Koch described President Obama's abysmal attitude toward the State of Israel and his humiliating treatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as shocking. He concluded by observing, It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israels enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote. This harsh language also included a denunciation of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) for giving Secretary of State Hilary Clinton a standing ovation at their recent convention.
Another major figure in the Jewish cultural world has made his feelings of unhappiness about American policy toward Israel and Jerusalem, in particular widely known.
Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel is less direct in his criticism of the Obama Administration than Koch, but his point is clear. In a full-page advertisement entitled For Jerusalem that I have read in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post on April 16th (follow link), Wiesel writes, For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. He notes the centrality of Jerusalem to Jewish life and civilization.
In a thinly veiled swipe at the Obama Administration he asks of Jerusalem: What is the solution? Pressure will not produce a solution. (my emphasis) He continues by asking why the issue of Jerusalem must be addressed first before other major problems are resolved. Why must the toughest question be resolved before Arabs and Jews can be shown to be capable of living together peacefully? A fair question.
Wiesel continues by observing that Jerusalem must remain the worlds Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. And, he closes saying, Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.
It is too early to know whether these comments constitute a trend within the Jewish community, but if I were President Obama I might want to lose the Lawrence of Arabia act for a while. There is, however, little chance of that happening because Ed Koch has it exactly right. In fact, Koch may be understating Obamas animosity toward Israel.