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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy

RampageWired

Photo by Teddy Zitron
D'var Torah
March 15, 2024

President Obama’s Legacy Concerning Israel

President+Obamas+Legacy+Concerning+Israel

Over the past eight years, President Obama and his administration has been significantly involved with Israel. He has met with key Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the late Former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. He has spoken at policy conferences hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a bipartisan organization of US citizens committed solely to strengthening, protecting and promoting the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. President Obama also facilitated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) during his presidency. Some supporters of Israel claim that President Obama has been a loyal partner and has greatly aided Israel, but others maintain that he is no friend to Israel and even go as far as to say that his actions have placed Israel in danger.

During his presidency, President Obama has made positive accomplishments for Israel. “No president in history has done more for Israel’s security than Obama,” argued Colin H. Kahl,  Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, in an Aug. 2012   article published by Foreign Policy. For example, Israel has received record-high levels of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) from the Obama Administration. “The Obama administration has increased security assistance to Israel every single year since the president took office, providing nearly $10 billion in aid — covering roughly a fifth of Israel’s defense budget — over the past three years,” explained Kahl, which included “high-level consultation with Israeli officials on U.S. arms sales to the region, operational cooperation to improve Israel’s conventional military and counterterrorism capabilities, and providing Israel with advanced technology, such as the fifth-generation stealth Joint Strike Fighter.” Under President Obama’s watch, the United States has also provided “Israel with $275 million over and above its annual FMF to help finance Iron Dome, an anti-rocket system that has already saved Israeli lives by intercepting approximately 90 percent of projectiles launched against protected areas in the country’s south in the past year,” said Kahl. These were not the only military and financial aids provided to Israel under the Obama administration.

“By far the best thing [President Obama has done] was securing the nuclear treaty with Iran,” stated Rabbi H. Scott White, of Congregation Ohev Sholom. Another positive thing he has done is “sign a $38 billion multi-year foreign aid package [to be given to Israel].”

In addition, “President Obama has been steadfast against efforts to delegitimize Israel in international forums. He has blocked Palestinian attempts to bypass negotiations and achieve United Nations recognition as a member state, a move that [, should President Obama not have blocked these attempts,] would have opened the way to efforts by Israel’s foes to sanction and criminalize its policies,” affirmed Haim Saban, a founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and supporter of the Democratic Party in a Sept. 2012 article published by the New York Times . Also, it is abundantly clear that “Whether through military assistance and security cooperation, or through diplomatic and moral support, you sent us a clear message: that we are not alone,” declared Peres, about the United States in a June 2014 article published by Arutz Sheva.

President Obama and former President Shimon Peres shake hands. Photo by Pete Souza, courtesy of wikimedia commons.

President Obama has also done negative things concerning Israel during his presidency. “I think he should have put more pressure on both Arabs and Israel to negotiate,” insisted White.

At a time when Israel needed America to stand by its side, President Obama “dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran as mere ‘noise’ that he prefers to ‘block out,’” and “he declined to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” said Mitt Romney in a Sept. 2012 article published by The Wall Street Journal.

However, President Obama has also aligned himself with adversaries of Israel. He has “praised Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, who had called Zionists ‘the descendants of apes and pigs,’” stated Michael Goodwin, a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist, in a March 2015 article published by the New York Post. Even more troubling, according to Goodwin, is “Obama’s bended-knee deference to Iran’s Supreme Leader, which has been repaid with ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ demonstrations in Tehran and expanded Iranian military action in other countries.” President Obama should have made it more clear that he, along with the United States, stands with Israel, and the US must support countries and individuals with values we hold dear in this country as well.

President Obama delivers a speech at Ben Gurion Airport. Photo courtesy of Flikr.

As President Obama’s time in office is coming to an end, one question is imminent: Where will President Obama stand on Israel after his term ends? “I don’t have any idea where he’ll stand after office,” shares White.

It has been speculated that “… the [Obama} Administration may seek a new UN Security Council Resolution embodying the two-state [solution], with pre-1967 lines and agreed land swaps, and some vague statements about Jerusalem,” conjectured former White House official Stuart Eisenstadt in an email leaked by WikiLeaks, an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. President Obama’s plan is to “push Israel to the brink, using financial and military blackmail against the Netanyahu government, while maintaining control over American Jews to prevent any protests or backtalk,” declared Daniel Greenfield, a journalist and conservative blogger, in a May 2010 article published by Arutz Sheva.

President Obama stands with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo courtesy of flikr.

It is clear that opinions of the public on President Obama’s legacy on Israel are varied. Some revere President Obama for standing with Israel, trying to stimulate peace talks, and continuing to supply military and financial support. Others rebuke him for succumbing to the demands of Israel’s adversaries, being both anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and not embracing the only country in the Middle East with shared values. No matter how people align themselves politically, a common hope is shared with everyone who is pro-Israel- that President Obama will stand by and support Israel, not turn away from her, after his tenure ends.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of HBHA’s student publication. The editorial student staff of the “Rampagewired” places the highest value on student-run journalism and responsible, free expression. The “Rampagewired” accepts unsolicited opinion pieces for its Op-Ed page from students, staff, and the community. Columns typically run 750 to 1,000 words in length. Those most likely to be published deal with timely and newsworthy issues in a well-reasoned, incisive, balanced, and compelling way, and, in the case of already well debated topics, they should present a new perspective.  Contact: [email protected] or [email protected]

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