Berlin — It has been about six months since the Obama’s administration’s verbal tirade against Israel’s decision to construct 1,600 apartments in an east Jerusalem neighborhood, and now President Obama has opened Act II.
He used Indonesia, a country that does not diplomatically recognize Israel’s right to exist, as his primary stage, scolding the Jewish state during his visit to the world’s largest Islamic country by saying, “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office fired back that “Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.”
In sharp contrast to Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada found the right language this week: “Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israel mob tell us all too well, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are in the longer term a threat to all of us.”
Obama lacks a singleness of purpose when it comes to stopping Iran’s drive to go nuclear. He should be engaging in more saber-rattling and going on the offensive to sanction Swiss, Russian, Indian, and Chinese gas and oil companies propping up Iran’s regime with revenue. As former President Bush notes in his new memoir, Iran suspended its illicit nuclear enrichment program because its rulers were filled with anxiety about U.S. military intervention in Iran following the Iraq war.
One hopes that Act III of Obama’s foreign policy toward the Middle East will focus not on housing units in Jerusalem but on compelling Iran to stop its drive to go nuclear. Moreover, Secretary of State Clinton ought to be more concerned with supporting pro-democracy activists in Iran than with Tweeting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his 54th birthday, a stunning lowlight and great source of embarrassment for Americans concerned with global democracy.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.