by David Suissa
After failing for eight years to get the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table, a lame duck President Barack Obama decided to punish Israel by allowing the United Nations Security Council to essentially declare Israel a criminal state.
By doing so, Obama has thrown Israel to the wolves– the wolves of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), of the International Criminal Court and of all international bodies and movements that have an interest in harming Israel.
The U.N. action follows Obama’s theme of blaming Israel for the failed peace process and rewarding the Palestinians for consistently saying no to everything—to concessions, to peace talks, to [the] recognition of Israel.
“We are outraged over the U.S. failure to veto this biased and unconstructive UNSC resolution,” Anti-Defamation League head Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “This resolution will do little to renew efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. It will only encourage further Palestinian intransigence vis-à-vis direct negotiations with Israel in favor of unilateral, one-sided initiatives.”
While affirming its opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and its support for a two-state solution, The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), in a statement signed by President Rabbi Denise Eger and Chief Executive Rabbi Steven A. Fox, expressed “strong disagreement” with the UNSC resolution, saying that the U.S. abstention “leaves us dismayed, disappointed and angry.”
The CCAR concurred with many others that “peace negotiations belong between the two parties involved” and that “The United Nations is not the arena in which to address these complex issues,” adding that “the U.N.’s obsessive and relentless criticism of Israel, while ignoring the unspeakable repression committed by illegitimate regimes and terrorist organizations worldwide, falsely and maliciously labels Israel uniquely as a pariah state.”
There’s something tragic about Obama using an anti-Israel body like the United Nations to make his final statement on Israel (the whooping and hollering after the U.N. vote spoke volumes). Does he not realize he just empowered Israel’s enemies and put wind in the sails of the vile BDS movement that seeks mainly to delegitimize the Jewish state?
There’s also something tragic about how Obama miscalculated what needed to be done in order to bring the parties together. His first move to restart the peace process was not to demand that Palestinians accept Israel’s offer to negotiate without preconditions or stop their incitement against Jews.
No, his first move was to demand something the Palestinians themselves never asked for: A draconian freeze of all Jewish construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, impacting nearly half a million Jews, something no Israeli government could deliver. This move not only reinforced Palestinian intransigence, it established Israel as the guilty party.
When the leader of the free world takes a complicated conflict and puts most of the blame on one side, we shouldn’t be surprised if the world follows. Is it any wonder, then, that the United Nations would follow in Obama’s footsteps and make similar demands? If Israel’s best friend can do it, why can’t they?
The problem, of course, is that a U.N. Security Council resolution that uses language like “flagrant violation of international law” is much more than a demand or a condemnation. It’s more like a court judgment that convicts Israel without trial and will haunt the Jewish state for a long time to come.
If Obama’s interest was to bring the parties together, he didn’t need the U.N. He could have conditioned financial aid to the PA on them returning to the negotiating table and ending incitement against Jews. That incitement is painful evidence that Palestinians are more interested in destroying the Jewish state than in creating their own.
Jewish communities still account for only three percent of the West Bank. If the Palestinians were serious about building their own state, they would sit down and negotiate. Evidently, it never occurred to Obama that getting tough with the Palestinians was the smartest way to move forward.
President Barack Obama started and ended his presidency by blaming Israel for his own failure to bring the parties of this intractable conflict together. And as his parting shot, on the eve of Chanukah, he allowed the cesspool of anti-Semitism, the United Nations, to put a mark of Cain on the Jewish state.
That’s quite a double whammy for his legacy—he harms the peace process, and he harms Israel. For Jews who love Israel and who love Obama, that’s a lot to swallow.
And yet, as bad as all this is, Obama’s failed legacy goes way beyond Israel.
Here’s how my friend author Yossi Klein Halevi summarizes the wreckage: “Obama’s legacy is a half million dead in Syria, the refugee influx in Europe which could lead to the breakup of the EU and the rise of the radical right, the rise of Iran as a conventional power that is devouring one Sunni country after another even as it is on a slower but now-inevitable track to becoming a nuclear power, the diminution of American power and prestige—and now, legitimizing BDS and the criminalization of Israel.
“Thank you, Mr. President.”