Wing­ing it in the Mid­dle East

Obama’s sense­less flight ban pun­ished an ally and no one else

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Tammy Bruce

This week, a ter­ror­ist group tried to shut down Is­rael’s air­port, and couldn’t. So Pres­i­dent Obama stepped in and did it for them. I’m speak­ing, of course, of the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ban on flights to Is­rael’s Ben Gu­rion Air­port in Tel Aviv, os­ten­si­bly af­ter a Ha­mas rocket crashed about a mile away. The ini­tial ban was on Tues­day for 24 hours, af­ter which the FAA ex­tended it for another day.

All that came to an end late Wed­nes­day when the FAA an­nounced it was sud­denly lift­ing the ban say­ing, ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, that it was “sat­is­fied with the se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions Is­rael had taken to as­sure flight safety at the air­port.”

The Wash­ing­ton Times also re­ported: “The agency made its de­ci­sion late Wed­nes­day af­ter work­ing with other U.S. govern­ment en­ti­ties to as­sess the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Is­rael.”

Re­ally? It’s all rather per­plex­ing. Wouldn’t we, as al­lies of Is­rael, de­cide to check first with Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties to de­ter­mine if we would be “sat­is­fied with their se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions?” Con­sid­er­ing the Is­raelis are known for hav­ing the most se­cure air­line and air­port in the world, it seemed strange that our ac­tion would be to ban first and ask ques­tions later.

Un­less, of course, the flight ban had noth­ing to do with flight se­cu­rity, and ev­ery­thing to do with a thug­gish and petty at­tempt by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to in­tim­i­date Is­rael into a cease-fire deal. It seems like a rather Cosa Nos­tra way of il­lus­trat­ing the eco­nomic dam­age the United States could in­flict on Is­rael if it doesn’t meet Mr. Obama’s de­mands.

Is­rael, in fact, ac­cepted the Egyp­tian-bro­kered cease-fire pro­posal. Re­mem­ber that? But Ha­mas, the ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion hold­ing the Pales­tinian peo­ple hostage, did not. In this case, the de­mand would likely be for Is­rael to ac­cept an even more com­pro­mis­ing cease-fire.

You see, just as the flight ban went into ef­fect on Tues­day, Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry was meet­ing with Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­del-Fatah el-Sissi in Cairo, dis­cussing ef­forts to restart cease-fire talks.

On Wed­nes­day, as the ban was ex­tended for the sec­ond day, Mr. Kerry then flew, iron­i­cally enough, to Tel Aviv, land­ing at the sup­pos­edly way-too-danger­ous Ben Gu­rion Air­port, to meet with Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu to push the deal.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is known to be some­what ham-handed when it comes to its treat­ment of Is­rael. Last week, com­ment­ing on Fox News, jour­nal­ist Ju­dith Miller noted, “The Is­raelis be­lieve the pres­i­dent has not been sym­pa­thetic to them … .”

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Repub­li­can, also ex­presses con­cern about Mr. Obama’s at­ti­tude to­ward the Jewish state and the in­ten­tion of the ban. He told Fox News, “Yes­ter­day, we saw the FAA make an un­prece­dented de­ci­sion to ban all air travel to the na­tion of Is­rael. And I’ve asked to­day the very sim­ple ques­tion: Did Pres­i­dent Obama just uni­lat­er­ally launch eco­nomic boy­cotts on the na­tion of Is­rael ... ?”

“This de­ci­sion by the FAA raises se­ri­ous ques­tions. Was this a po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion? Was it driven by the White House? Was it driven by the State De­part­ment?” asked Mr. Cruz. “If it was based on air­line safety, as they said, why did they sin­gle out Is­rael? Why not ban travel to Pak­istan, or Ye­men or Ukraine, where a com­mer­cial air­liner just got shot down … ?”

In­deed. Why not a ban on flights into Kiev, as Ukraine’s mil­i­tary an­nounced two of their fighter jets were shot down Wed­nes­day morn­ing by pro-Rus­sian forces?

As a Twit­ter user pointed out, why not a flight ban into Pak­istan’s Karachi air­port, which was at­tacked by ter­ror­ists just six months ago? No flight ban then; no flight ban now.

There are re­ports that the flight ban has al­ready harmed Is­rael and pro­vided Ha­mas with at least a psy­cho­log­i­cal vic­tory. CNN re­ported: “The FAA’s ban on U.S. flights to and from Is­rael’s main air­port for a sec­ond day marks another blow to that coun­try’s econ­omy and a suc­cess for Ha­mas mil­i­tants, ex­perts said Wed­nes­day.”

Are there risks dur­ing time of war? Of course. But the is­sue here is this: Is Amer­i­can pol­icy be­ing em­ployed in a le­git­i­mate way to help pro­tect our cit­i­zenry, or is it be­ing used as a cudgel against na­tions to whom the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion isn’t “sym­pa­thetic”?

In other words, have we, the United States of Amer­ica, been “fun­da­men­tally trans­formed” into a gang of im­ma­ture teenage bul­lies?

Our world is one where Is­lamist ISIS con­tin­ues its ram­page in Iraq, ter­ror­iz­ing Chris­tians and at­tack­ing Baghdad; where Is­lamist Syria con­tin­ues its geno­ci­dal cam­paign, cost­ing at least 170,000 lives; where a Rus­sian-backed gang ter­ror­izes another sov­er­eign na­tion; where Is­lamist Boko Haram in Nige­ria con­tin­ues its cam­paign of mass kid­nap­ping of girls, ter­ror­ism and killings.

Yet the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is in­ter­ven­ing de­ci­sively in only one in­ter­na­tional cri­sis: by threat­en­ing the be­sieged Jewish na­tion with an eco­nomic boy­cott via a flight ban, which also hap­pens to as­sist the goals of the Is­lamist ter­ror­ists com­mit­ted to Is­rael’s de­struc­tion.

It’s time we ask Mr. Obama and his ad­min­is­tra­tion syco­phants: Why? Tammy Bruce is a ra­dio talk-show host, au­thor and Fox News con­trib­u­tor.

It’s all rather per­plex­ing. Wouldn’t we, as al­lies of Is­rael, de­cide to check first with Is­raeli

au­thor­i­ties to de­ter­mine if we would be “sat­is­fied with their se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions?” Con­sid­er­ing the Is­raelis are known for hav­ing the most se­cure air­line and air­port in the world,

it seemed strange that our ac­tion would be to ban first and ask ques­tions later.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY ALEXAN­DER HUNTER/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

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