At the AIPAC conference yesterday President Obama insisted: “But as you examine my commitment, you don’t just have to count on my words. You can look at my deeds. Because over the last three years, as president of the United States, I have kept my commitments to the state of Israel. At every crucial juncture — at every fork in the road — we have been there for Israel. Every single time.” He declared that “if during this political season you hear some questions regarding my administration’s support for Israel, remember that it’s not backed up by the facts. And remember that the U.S.-Israel relationship is simply too important to be distorted by partisan politics. America’s national security is too important. Israel’s security is too important.”
But unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of facts that Obama left out of his gauzy recitation of his record on Israel. Dan Senor, Mitt Romney’s top foreign policy advisor, provides a helpful chronology detailing the Obama’s rocky relationship with Israel.
And anticipating that the president might leave a bunch of things out of his speech, the conservative Emergency Committee for Israel commissioned a 30-minute documentary of what you didn’t hear from Obama. It is worth the time to watch:
Obama told the AIPAC attendees a fractured fairy tale. But for friends of Israel (Jewish and non-Jewish), the facts don’t back up Obama’s extraordinary claim that he was there for Israel “every single time.”
As former deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams explains, “Military and intelligence cooperation is excellent, and American diplomatic support for an isolated Israel was repeatedly (though not always, as he suggested) forthcoming. Still, any effort to paper over the differences between his administration and the Netanyahu government—or worse yet, to make believe there really are no important differences—was bound to fail.” Facts are stubborn things, and Obama’s record is so error-strewn and so different in tenor from predecessors that no speech can paper over the last three years.
And just as the Obama account of his record bears only a passing resemblance to reality, his current policy formulation will satisfy Israel’s friends only on a superficial level. Obama reiterates he wants to deny Iran a nuclear weapon. But as Abrams notes, “The problem is that Israel is focused on Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear capability, not just the final activities that produce a weapon—and that would probably come far too late for Israel to have a viable military option. To the Israelis, Iran cannot be permitted to get that close to having a usable weapon. So the red line the president drew is not the same as the one Netanyahu usually draws.” Nor will Obama’s effort to muzzle “loose war talk” go over well with those trying to convince the mullahs that their very lives, not to mention their power, are at risk if they pursue nuclear weapons.
Obama’s tougher talk should not obscure his shabby track record or the degree to which Israel now finds itself, in his words, painfully aware it will need “the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”