President Obama’s Intentions
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
It strikes us as no small thing when Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League comes out with an article questioning President Obama’s intentions. Mr. Foxman, after all, has stood for a liberal view of our common concerns for his entire adult life. He opposed Prime Minister Netanyahu accepting from Congress an invitation that hadn’t been cleared with the White House. He has supported every peace initiative we can remember. He is, in the finest sense, one of the great liberals of his time.
Yet he has come out with a column, which we saw on the daily Algemeiner, declaring that however critical of Mr. Netanyahu he has been in recent months, he is “even more troubled” by the “statements now coming out of the White House calling for a reassessment of policy toward Israel,” including reconsidering of the practice of vetoing anti-Israel measures at the United Nations. He still wants the Israeli premier to do more to solidify relations with America and to stand up to hardliners at home.
“None of this, however, justifies what we are hearing from the Obama Administration,” Mr. Foxman warns. “Their reactions raise deeper questions about their intentions and perspectives.” The ADL chief doesn’t accuse the President or his camarilla of anti-Semitism. But, he writes, “From the beginning of the Obama years, there was a disturbing indifference to the mindset of the Israeli public, characterized by the President’s speech in Cairo and focus on Israeli settlements as the key obstacle to peace.” Writes Mr. Foxman:
“Talk of ‘neither party willing to make sacrifices for peace,’ and even seeming to put the blame on Israel, simply disregarded the brutal reality of what Israelis went through for a decade starting with the Camp David meeting in 2000. There, a left-wing Israeli government, elected by a public hoping against hope that the Palestinians were finally ready to abandon their decades-long struggle against Israel, offered a true two-state solution to the Palestinians. Not only was it rejected, but violence and suicide bombs followed for years.
“After that, Israeli leaders took two more steps toward that vaunted goal of two states: first the gut-wrenching withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and then the offer by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. Israelis saw these initiatives rejected again, together with Hamas taking over Gaza with its attendant rockets and war. In sum, Israelis saw an unrepentant foe still seemingly committed to irredentist goals.
“Nothing much has changed since then on the Palestinian side. Hamas continues to control Gaza and, after another war, is seeking to rearm for the next conflict against Israel. And the Palestinian Authority has found every excuse to avoid negotiations, making it clear to Israelis that Palestinian leaders are far more interested in turning the international community and the U.S. against Israel than to resolving their internal problems and the conflict with Israel. Or put another way, they seemed interested in achieving a Palestinian state only if it meant not having to end the struggle against Israel.”
This kind of talk would be less remarkable — though not a jot less credible — from hardliners like, say, Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America. But coming from a figure like of such liberality as Mr. Foxman, and a man who is retiring from a lifetime of leadership at an organization devoted to fighting the defamation of the Jewish people, it is newsworthy. There aren’t ten Jews in America, we’d warrant, who don’t share Mr. Foxman’s concern about the intentions being signaled by the language the White House is using.