-ET TU, OBAMA? “A score to settle?”

SPECIAL REPORT

Alea iacta est. The die has been cast.

By Alan Simons

MARCH 17, 2010 –  It was on March 15, 44 BCE, commonly known as the Ides of March, that Caesar was attacked by a group of senators, including Marcus Brutus, Caesar’s close friend.

This week, by some extraordinary coincidence, it can be said that Israel received a similar stabbing by its staunchest of friends. Yet, in the case of Israel, the events leading up to the rift with the Obama administration, comes as no surprise.

The United States National Exit Poll results published on November 6, 2008, stated 78% of Jews voted for Obama. Were they very naive? Well, one just has to look at the list of Obama’s pre-election advisors to arrive at the answer.

As jewishinfoNews reported in June 2008:

Zbigniew Brzezinski is one in a list of advisors that has joined the Obama campaign. David Bonior is another member of Obama’s team. As a Congressman, Bonior is known for his strong opposition to pro-Israel policies, being called by some “the biggest supporter of the anti-Israel Arab lobby in Congress.” (Jonathan Tobin, Jewish World Review, 7/12/99).

General Tony McPeak is also part of Obama’s team, and so is Robert Malley, who, according to Daniel Pipes, is a sympathizer of the PLO, who had to resign after it was emerged that he was talking to Hamas. Malley is the Director of the Middle East/North Africa Program at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Brzezinski sits as a member on ICGs Board.

Mr. Obama had high praise for Mr Brzezinski. He is, “someone I have learned an immense amount from” and is “one of our most outstanding scholars and thinkers,” he was quoted as saying.

And one month earlier, in May 2008, The Daily Telegraph (UK) had this to say about it all:

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser, said that the pro-Israel lobby in the US was too powerful, while the slur of anti-Semitism was too readily used whenever its power was called into question.

Mr Brzezinski, who served under President Jimmy Carter, was a key player in the 1978 Camp David Accords and remains an important voice in the US foreign policy establishment. An active author and analyst at 80, he is close enough to Mr Obama that his remarks may feed fears in the American-Jewish community that the senator would soften America’s traditional strong pro-Israeli stance if he became president. This perception has been created in part by Mr Obama’s professed willingness to talk to Iran and partly by other foreign policy associates.

Mr Brzezinski has been accused of being “anti-Israel” by some Jewish academics, writers and bloggers after criticising Israel for excessive use of force and unwillingness to compromise. Last year, censure of him reached new heights when he defended John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, two academics who had criticised the pro-Israel lobby and were accused of questioning the right of the state of Israel to exist. Mr Brzezinski said “it’s not unique to the Jewish community – but there is a McCarthyite tendency among some people in the Jewish community”, referring to the Republican senator who led the anti-Communist witch hunt in the 1950s. “They operate not by arguing but by slandering, vilifying, demonising. They very promptly wheel out anti-Semitism. There is an element of paranoia in this inclination to view any serious attempt at a compromised peace as somehow directed against Israel.”

Yesterday, nearly two years later, The Daily Telegraph reported on the current falling-out between the USA administration and Israel:

It is difficult to see how the Obama administration’s decision to postpone indefinitely Senator George Mitchell’s planned visit to Israel squares with its commitment to negotiate a two-state peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. The Jerusalem no-show by Senator Mitchell, who is Washington’s special envoy to the region, marks an alarming escalation in the rift between Israel and the US – which began last week when the Israeli government announced the construction of 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem, just as the American Vice President, Joe Biden, arrived in the capital.

Even though Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, hurriedly apologised to Mr Biden for any offence or embarrassment the announcement might have caused, Washington has refused to let the matter rest. As well as cancelling Senator Mitchell’s visit, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has informed Mr Netanyahu that no senior Israeli officials will be welcome in Washington until the matter has been resolved. The White House has even resorted to briefing that Israel’s policy is jeopardising the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is easy to understand why many of the former Clinton administration officials now working for Barack Obama believe they have a score to settle with Mr Netanyahu, who did much to ruin Bill Clinton’s peace initiative in the late 1990s. But Washington’s reaction is in danger of becoming disproportionate. Israeli politicians can be infuriating at the best of times, but their country is nevertheless an important regional ally – and one whose support is crucial to resolving more important global issues, such as tackling Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Recently, a new poll by Gallup showed Mr Obama’s approval rating at a record low of 46 per cent since taking office. I wonder what percentage of the Jewish vote would now vote for him? Et tu, Obama? Alea iacta est. The die has been cast.

(Photo credit Obama/Brzezinski-  Hermes-Presse)

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