Obama’s one-two punch
John Kerry twists the president’s knife in the back of Israel
That’s quite a one-two punch President Obama has organized at the White House. Barack Obama applied the knife to the back of Israel, and then John Kerry, the secretary of State, arrives to give the blade a lingering, painful twist — just in case the Jews didn’t get the point.
Mr. Kerry’s message was mean, merciless and blunt, and in no uncertain words: Israel can be a democratic state, or it can be a Jewish state, but it can’t be both. He required 73 minutes to deliver a speech devoid of pith and principle but not of point, and it was mostly about celebrating what a swell fellow he is and what a sweet life everyone could have if they would just do what he says. The man does think highly of himself.
The president’s critics have said for years that his sympathies lie not with the beseiged Jewish state, but with Israel’s Arab enemies, and Mr. Obama himself has proved the critics correct. He won’t have to face Jewish voters again — or Christian voters who sometimes are the fiercest defenders of the Jewish state — and he can make it clear at last of just how he feels about Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the Kerry formulation, Israel can’t be both a democratic and a Jewish state but its enemies in the Middle East are free to be both Islamic and autocratic. They have no interest in being democratic. But for Israel to conform to the Kerry formula it would have to rewrite its constitution, which proclaims the State of Israel to be just that, a nation both democratic and Jewish. In fact, the U.S. State Department helped draft the constitutions for several nations that establish Islam as the state religion, often prescribing dreadful punishments for dissenters.
But the one-two punch at Israel, delivered with such relish by the president and his secretary of State, is not actually about the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, which Israel intends as bargaining chips if the Palestinians are ever persuaded to live in peace. The betrayal of Israel at the United Nations is part of the developing hostility to the Jewish state that is at the heart of the new Democratic mantra. The Bernie Sanders wing which is ascendant in the new Democratic Party does not hide its hostility to Israel and it’s the critics of President Obama’s betrayal who are out of touch with their party now.
Some brave Democrats, like Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, are ready, willing and eager to stand up for the survival of an American ally under threat of extinction. Mr. Hoyer urged the secretary of State to scrap his vicious speech against Israel, and shut up. He did neither, of course, and further schemes to sink the knife deeper may be afoot in the dwindling number of days before the Obama era sinks into history.
This should be a wake-up call for Jewish voters in the United States. The question is not whether the State of Israel can be both Jewish and Democratic, but whether American Jews who cherish and support Israel can be supporters of both Israel and Democrats. The clock keeps ticking.