Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Israel Under Attack, Obama Remains Silent

by Elliott Abrams
July 10, 2014

Israel is under attack by the terrorist group Hamas. Hundreds of rockets have fallen on its cities and towns. Millions of Israelis run, and must pull their children, into shelters each day.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has discussed this with French president Hollande and with German chancellor Merkel.

But not with President Obama, who has not seen fit to call Netanyahu or take a call from him. This is quite amazing behavior for an ally. I am aware as all readers are that the two men have a difficult relationship, but that is no justification. If the president has time this week to fund-raise, he has time to call the leader of an ally under attack.

I am sure such a call will happen sooner or later, perhaps over the weekend. But the damage has been done: Israel is under attack, and the president of the United States cannot bring himself to call its prime minister. Israelis are unlikely to forget this, nor should Americans. Our alliance system cannot function when we treat allies in this manner. Once again, every vulnerable ally from Riyadh to Taipei to Seoul to Manila to Kiev will wonder how reliable an ally we are, at least under the present leadership we have.

UPDATE: British prime minister Cameron has also spoken with Netanyahu. Obama is alone in his failure to do so.

SECOND UPDATE: half a day after I published this post, President Obama spoke with prime minister Netanyahu. After Hollande, after Merkel, after Cameron, after Harper, and perhaps others. Once upon a time we would have been first, just as Harry Truman was first to recognize Israel’s independence in 1948.  I am glad the two leaders spoke, but cannot escape the view that the White House acted more to escape criticism than to express solidarity.

Post a Comment 17 Comments

  • Posted by Sheila Novitz

    Barack Obama is a small and spiteful man. The surprise is that we were fooled by him for so long that he actually became President of the USA. I watched him once at the home of PM Netanyahu, and it was then that I realized: This man is one big act; nothing he says is genuine; he is also sexist, believing that complimenting Mrs Netanyahu on her looks would assist his agenda.

    Elliott Abrams, you do not waste words; it is always a pleasure reading what you write, although it is often painful. Thank you for all the many blogs I’ve read and appreciated.

  • Posted by Stuart

    This war would not have happened without John Jerry’s meddling – of pushing the parties to talk and raising Palestinian expectations, when there was little or no common ground on which an agreement was possible, and on Obama’s indifference. I encourage the use of the term “John Kerry’s War.” http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/07/09/john-kerrys-war/

  • Posted by chris

    no,lol,I don’t want Obama to call I wish he didn’t call.because we know that Obama will call him for one purpose only,to call for restraint..so better he doesn’t ring lol..kerry did call him on the first day to ask netanyahu to restran himself..so to be honest,the less Obama calls the better!

  • Posted by chris moore

    just to add to my last comment,I was Correct! Kerry has called netanyahu to stop the fighting..a cease fire is the same as telling Israel to let hamas off the hook
    US, UN Call for Gaza Ceasefire as Ground Offensive Looms
    John Kerry calls for de-escalation that still protects Israel, Ban Ki-Moon demands ceasefire out of concern over ‘many Palestinian deaths.’
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/182757

  • Posted by Yisrael Medad

    i thought that Netanyahu initiated the calls anbd preferred to speak with Kerry as a US rep.

  • Posted by Yocheved

    Silence is also speech.

  • Posted by Jeff Portner

    Sad to say that it’s not unexpected

  • Posted by Jeff Portner

    Sad to say that it’s no unexpected

  • Posted by Richard C in Yorkshire

    He should take a leaf out of the Canadian book. Now there is a true ally to Israel!

  • Posted by Matt

    The problem with all this, so I am a Palestinian, i have kids, a wife and some in laws staying with me. next day Hamas turn up wanting to turn the basement into s missile part factor and ammunition factor. So am no really happen with my family being present for safe reasons, explosion, IDF, the loss of my house. ( They will be martyrs shahid,) There needs to be civilians so it appear normal going ons .Don’t you support the Resistance.

    Of course I do brother tea or lemonade, Fatima take the solider in he truck a lemonade.So I have just poisoned these guys, I get in a uniform, a large pipe and a steel container of hot charcoal or a heat signatory. In the dusk hours a close to the finish without drawing fire. The IDF will call in a drone strike.

    Tell the next week for the same request, Luckily a small car bomb went off, so the investigated,on he may back an IED goes off and the are it in an ambush.

    So through a campaign of ambushes, iED’s car booming to distracted them from their original request.

    But they will be back for a third time, This time family will not be their smuggled out vi the tunnels to Sinai.

    They will give the home to a Hamas loyalist family to live there, before leave all the anchor points and load bearing points were strategically cut with a compound saw and then plastered over for cosmetic. If JDAM drop 20 meters again i implode

    If everyone took such a stance hamas would have no support, the fact is they don’t have that support, people are to afraid to stand up to them.

  • Posted by jean claude

    If the USA doesn-t stand for Israels right to existence and to defend herself who will ?

  • Posted by Lissa

    As a Jewish Canadian, I am proud of my government – Stephen Harper is a true friend to Israel. It is abhorrent that the United States has turned its back on Israel, and it is solely because of the guy in the White House. But PM Netanyahu knows who his real allies are. And America stands apart from the leaders of the world who have wasted no time in supporting Israel publicly, and condemning Hamas.

  • Posted by George Okrent

    Jews have survived Hitler. I’m sure they will survive Obama. History is already being written about this small, inept man. He fooled the voters, but he will not survive the true picture of his poor ability and character. George Okrent

  • Posted by EMT

    I somewhat agree with Stuart. If I was not an American, I would say Kerry was a pain in the neck. Not only this, since when Kerry was a good diplomat? I’m sure he never learned diplomacy. He was blunt and had only his success in mind.

    I agree with Sissi, the president of Egypt who told him to kindly go home and leave him alone. I wonder why Netanyahu did not do the same. After all Israel is an independent country. The worst of all, however, is President Obama who lost all the Arab countries and is now trying to make up for it. It’s time that Americans wake up before this team makes another mess.

  • Posted by EMT

    I somewhat agree with Stuart. If I was not an American, I would say Kerry was a pain in the neck. Not only this, since when Kerry was a good diplomat? I’m sure he never learned diplomacy. He was blunt and had only his success in mind.

    I agree with Sissi, the president of Egypt who told him to kindly go home and leave him alone. I wonder why Netanyahu did not do the same. After all Israel is an independent country. The worst of all, however, is President Obama who lost all the Arab countries and is now trying to make up for it. It’s time that Americans wake up before this team makes another mess.

  • Posted by Lon W.

    Lame duck. Whew! Have just a little bit of time until the next election.
    Am sorry for the violence in Israel and occupied Gaza territory, yet Israel is our ally, and the barbarian criminals that are terrorising and victimising the Arabs in Gaza (as well as the Israelis) have been “officially” designated terrorist organisations. Hamas, Popular Resistance Committees, “palestinian” islamic jihad, Fatah (Abu Nidal group… remember them? Did not Abbas fund the Munich massacre?), et cetera; these organisations are interested in power and money, and they use the “human shields” as missile fodder.
    Hopefully, the manipulated civilians in Gaza will one day look behind the stage and see this for themselves. In my opinion, people want to live in peace: have a nice safe home, clean water, healthy food, and an education for their children.

  • Posted by Randy

    I think the delay in calling may be related to the overall change in how Americans feel about the middle-east and especially Israel. I’m seeing three things going on right now.

    1) America gets most of our oil imports from Canada and Mexico, not the middle-east, and more people are realizing this. With new oil discoveries in N. America, and the technologies to recover them, N. America (as a unit) isn’t really dependent on “foreign” oil. Many see our past involvement in the middle-east as a “necessary evil” for oil, that my no longer be necessary.

    2) Israel is becoming viewed more as the aggressor (right or wrong) in the conflict, and the human rights issues are pretty clear. Many young people view the hatred of Americans in that area more due to our support of Israel that to our past bad acts in the area – and our population is getting younger.

    3) Christian Fundamentalism and American Nationalism are growing at rapid rate. History tells us where this leads.

    Put together, both the right, left, and industry are beginning to question blind support for Israel, and even any involvement in the middle-east. Obama is politicking in an environment that is changing – showing support for Israel is becoming more a liability than asset. As slow response is typical Obama – trying to slide through the cracks while doing nothing.

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