President Obama is known for his cool. Some of his associates call him “No Drama Obama.” And certainly in the realm of foreign policy, his response to events has been phlegmatic. The Iranian government sent its thugs into the streets to beat and murder democratic demonstrators, and President Obama stayed aloof. The Iranians arrested three American hikers, held them for months in prison, and now accuse two of spying — and President Obama remains calm. A Muslim American opened fire on U.S. soldiers at Fort Hood, and the president initially warned the nation not to jump to conclusions.
But there was one outrage that provoked the president’s ire — when Israel announced a permit for the construction of 1,600 new apartments on Jewish-owned land in a Jerusalem neighborhood. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately apologized to the then-visiting vice president, Joe Biden, about the timing of the announcement (by which Netanyahu was apparently blindsided), the reportedly “livid” Obama was unsatisfied.
On presidential instructions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned Israel’s prime minister and delivered a 45-minute harangue about Israel’s decision to build apartments for Jews in the Jewish capital. Details of the irate phone call were immediately released to the press, with then–State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley offering that Clinton had told Netanyahu that “the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship.”
In the choreographed world of diplomacy, that amounted to a fierce rebuke. But President Obama wasn’t finished. A few days later, presidential adviser David Axelrod appeared on a Sunday talk show and repeated the administration line that the Israeli announcement was an “affront” and an “insult.” Later, when Netanyahu visited the White House, President Obama delivered the final slaps — declining to pose for pictures or take press questions with the prime minister; delivering a list of steps Israel would have to take to restore trust; and then pointedly walking out on the prime minister with the parting words, “Let me know if there is anything new.”
On March 11, Palestinian terrorists entered the home of Udi and Ruth Fogel in the town of Itamar on the West Bank. It was the Sabbath, and most of the family was sleeping. The terrorists first slit the throats of Udi and his three-month-old daughter, Hadas. Ruth was in the bathroom but was attacked and killed as she emerged. Two more sons, Yoav, eleven, and Elad, four, were also killed by knives to the heart. Their throats were slit as well. There were three more Fogel children. Two other boys, ages eight and two, asleep on the sofa, were apparently missed by the murderers. Twelve-year-old Tamar, who had been spending Shabbat with friends, returned home to discover two-year-old Yishai standing over the bodies of his parents and begging them to wake up.
In Rafah, Palestinians celebrated the news of the massacre by dancing, singing, and handing around sweets.
The Obama administration issued a pro-forma condemnation. “There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home,” it read. Secretary Clinton called the murders “inhuman” and reportedly coaxed a more robust denunciation of the atrocity from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas than he had at first offered.