Diss­ing the Dalai Lama gets no­ticed in Tai­wan, Is­rael

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Ac­cord­ing to the Jerusalem Post, as re­cently as six weeks ago, just 4 per­cent of the Jews of Is­rael re­garded Pres­i­dent Obama as pro-Is­rael. Even if ex­ag­ger­ated, it is likely the most neg­a­tive Is­raeli view of an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent since Is­rael’s cre­ation.

If you think Is­raelis are ir­ra­tional in this mat­ter, per­haps Ti­bet will help per­suade you oth­er­wise. Yes, Ti­bet. Whereas ev­ery Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can pres­i­dent since 1991 has met with ex­iled Ti­betan leader, the Dalai Lama, when he vis­ited the United States, Pres­i­dent Obama has de­cided that he will not do so dur­ing the Ti­betan leader’s visit to the United States. The pres­i­dent does not wish to an­noy China’s dic­ta­tors prior to his up­com­ing visit to Bei­jing. As US News & World Re­port re­ported, “The U.S. de­ci­sion to post­pone the meet­ing ap­pears to be part of a strat­egy to im­prove ties with China that also in­cludes soft-ped­al­ing crit­i­cism of China’s hu­man rights [. . .]”

This is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling to Is­raelis be­cause it means that an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent is plac­ing ap­pease­ment of strong dic­ta­tors above Amer­ica’s tra­di­tional de­fense of em­bat­tled small coun­tries. (One as­sumes that the Tai­wanese are equally wor­ried; and the Ira­nian fight­ers for lib­erty have come close to giv­ing up on Mr. Obama’s Amer­ica.)

The line be­tween sell­ing out Ti­betans and sell­ing out Is­raelis is a di­rect one. Even lib­eral New York Times colum­nist Mau­reen Dowd was dis­turbed by the pres­i­dent’s snub­bing of the Dalai Lama:

“Diss­ing the Dalai was part of a broader new Obama pol­icy called ‘strate­gic re­as­sur­ance‘ — soft­en­ing crit­i­cism of China’s hu­man rights record and fi­nan­cial poli­cies to calm its fears that Amer­ica is try­ing to con­tain it [. . .] the tyro Amer­i­can pres­i­dent got the No­bel for the mere an­tic­i­pa­tion that he would pro­vide bold moral lead­er­ship for the world at the very mo­ment he was cav­ing to Chi­nese dic­ta­tors. Awk­ward.”

The world is quite aware of the im­por­tance of Mr. Obama’s snub­bing the Dalai Lama. Ms. Dowd noted that:

“In an in­ter­view with Ali­son Smale in The Times last week, Va­clav Havel [. . .] pricked Barack Obama’s con­science. Havel (who led) the Czechs and Slo­vaks from com­mu­nism to democ­racy, turned the ta­bles and asked Smale a ques­tion about Obama [. . .] Was it true that the pres­i­dent had re­fused to meet the Dalai Lama on his visit to Wash­ing­ton?”

Those who worry about good and evil know that if Amer­ica de­cides that the world’s ap­proval is im­por­tant, evil will in­crease ex­po­nen­tially. Only an Amer­ica will­ing to be dis­liked, even hated, will con­sis­tently sup­port the smaller good guys against the big­ger bad guys.

If Amer­ica starts shap­ing its for­eign pol­icy based upon get­ting along well with ev­ery­body, it will be­come less ten­able to sup­port Is­rael. The num­ber of peo­ple and coun­tries that want Is­rael de­stroyed are far more nu­mer­ous than tiny Is­rael and its peo­ple. The price of sup­port­ing free, demo­cratic, tol­er­ant Is­rael against its death-loving, to­tal­i­tar­ian and au­thor­i­tar­ian en­e­mies is re­duced pop­u­lar­ity of Amer­ica in those coun­tries. And if Amer­ica now val­ues get­ting along well with every­one above moral con­sid­er­a­tions, the days of strong Amer­i­can sup­port for Is­rael are num­bered.

They may in­deed be num­bered for ad­di­tional rea­sons. Hav­ing been awarded the No­bel Peace Prize, Pres­i­dent Obama may be even less in­clined to con­sider an Amer­i­can at­tack, or in any way coun­te­nance an Is­raeli at­tack, on Iran’s nu­clear weapons fa­cil­i­ties. A No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate isn’t sup­posed to sup­port, much less ini­ti­ate, first strikes.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the pres­i­dent, given his yearn­ing for a nu­clear weapons-free world, may sup­port an Ira­nian of­fer to dis­band its nu­clear weapons pro­gram if Is­rael is forced to aban­don its nu­clear arse­nal.

All this com­bined with the eco­nom­i­cally weak­est Amer­ica in mem­ory — in­creas­ingly de­pen­dent on other coun­tries to help pre­vent the dol­lar from be­com­ing more like Mo­nop­oly money — means that the 96 per­cent of Is­raelis who do feel they can­not rely on this pres­i­dent of the United States as they have on prior pres­i­dents is, un­for­tu­nately, not ir­ra­tional.

This pres­i­dent char­ac­ter­izes his pres­i­dency as es­sen­tially the op­po­site of that of his pre­de­ces­sor, Ge­orge W. Bush. He may be right, as re­flected by this note from the Wash­ing­ton Post: “The last time he (the Dalai Lama) was here, in 2007, Ge­orge W. Bush be­came the first sit­ting pres­i­dent to meet with him pub­licly, at a cer­e­mony at the Capi­tol in which he awarded the Dalai Lama the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal, Congress’s high­est civil­ian award.”

If you were Is­raeli, which Amer­i­can pres­i­dent would you feel more se­cure with — the first one in 18 years who re­fused to meet with the Dalai Lama or the first one ever to meet with him pub­licly and give him a pub­lic honor?

Den­nis Prager is a na­tion­ally syndicated colum­nist.

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