Dubious Distinction: Obama to Receive Medal on First Presidential Trip to Israel
Has there been a person in the history of the world to get as many undeserved honors as Barack Obama? The Nobel Peace Prize, it should be conceded, was prematurely awarded to the man who had not even completed one term in office at a federal level. But getting a medal for being a friend of Israel — well, this stretches belief. As CNN reported:
When President Barack Obama visits Israel next month, he’ll be awarded the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israeli President Shimon Peres’ office announced Monday. Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to receive the recognition, will be awarded the medal for making “a unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens,” according to a release announcing the news.
Where does one even begin with such an absurd distinction? Let’s begin with Obama’s hobnobbing with known anti-Israeli activists like Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi. A glimpse at the president’s past associations and present administration sheds light on current affairs in a manner that puts the lie to claims that Obama is a man that works both sides of the Israeli fence.
Both the State Department and Obama spokesman Jay Carney refused to acknowledge Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Nominated CIA Director John Brennan has been accused of double-talk in support of Israel, and has referred to Jerusalem repeatedly by its Arabic name al Quds. And the man tapped to head the Department of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is on the hot seat for his position towards Israel. As the (assuredly, “right-wing”) Jewish Press put it:
Hagel’s problem with Israel is so consistent over time and over issues, that it’s hard to believe it is wholly rational. The most recent example is his 2007 statement (which he says he “can’t recall making”) that “the State Department was becoming an adjunct of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.”
Let’s also not overlook past insults to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which might partly explain President Shimon Peres’ award of the medal to President Obama. The U.S. president complained about having to “deal with him” and once rudely snubbed Netanyahu and walked out of a meeting to have dinner with his family. Nothing says respect for Israel like dissing its Prime Minister.
But this is all a matter of personal relations and perspectives. What about Obama’s policies? Firstly, the disaster of the Arab Spring uprisings, which the Obama administration gushed over as a spread of “democracy” throughout the region, has been an utter disaster.
Destabilizing Libya and Egypt, two countries where Obama supported regime change, has developed into those nations presenting a greater threat to Israel than under the relatively restrained Khadaffi and Mubarak regimes. After Obama pledged at least $450 million to Muslim Brotherhood-run Egypt, it turns out that new President Mohamed Morsi has issued anti-semitic tirades, calling Israelis “descendents of apes and pigs” and “blood suckers.” He also referred to Americans as “enemies.”
The Obama administration has called on Morsi to issue an “apology,” but how about the president apologize to the United States and to Israel for his reckless policies? Because the destabilization and “democratization” of the Middle East had the entirely predictable result of spreading the influence of deeply anti-Israeli fundamentalists. And the one place where a truly benign democratic movement occurred, Iran, was left to dissipate for ten days before the president mentioned anything about it.
This leads us to a nuclearizing Iran, and the great danger it poses to Israel. It’s not imperative that Iran be invaded and occupied a la Iraq, but a more rigid line should have been taken already. Instead, the president has nominated Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, a move that was endorsed by Iran.
And when enemies of the United States endorse someone, people should be well-advised.
Image: Barack and Michele Obama with well-known “Orientalist” Edward Said.