Obama suffers an empathy failure when it comes to Israel

Let’s think about Israel from the Israeli viewpoint for a minute, shall we?  It is, by any standards, an extremely small country.  Within its own borders, it is a sophisticated Western-style nation that leads the world in scientific innovation.  Its political system is a parliamentary style democratic republic.  Although its system isn’t perfect, no one questions the fact that it extends full civil rights to all citizens within its borders, regardless of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, or country of national origin.

Another fact about Israel?  A large part of the world wants to see it — and all its citizens — destroyed because the State of Israel is a Jewish state.  Europeans classify it as the most dangerous state in the world.  Israelis rightly suspect that the Europeans are wrong, and that there are, in fact, a few other states more dangerous than it is.  There is the Gazan state along its Western side, that has a charter that enshrines the desire to drive every citizen of Israel into the Mediterranean, presumably in a satisfying welter of blood.  There is also the West Bank, which has precisely the same goal.

To Israel’s north is Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah.  Hezbollah, coincidentally, shares the Gazan state’s goal:  total Jewish genocide.  To her east are Syria and Jordon which, quelle coincidence, have precisely the same mandate.  Stretch yourself a little further and you find Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Libya and Oman all of which, again purely by coincidence, have as official or unofficial government policies a vociferously and repeatedly stated desire to reduce Israel and her citizens to dust and ashes.  To make things a little more exciting for our small republican democracy, Iran is on the verge of having a nuclear bomb.

Oh, and did I mention that the other states are tyrannical dictatorships that have not only expelled all Jews from their borders, but that also maintain their control on power by stirring the masses into an antisemitic frenzy?  They’ve learned that the Jewish scapegoat is always a useful way to deflect attention from ones own failings.

The only nation near Israel — and it’s a big nation — that hasn’t been baying for her blood for the past 30 years is Egypt.  The Israelis knew that Hosni Mubarak was an often-cruel dictator, but in that regard he was completely indistinguishable from the Middle Eastern leaders heading the other nations I’ve mentioned.  They knew that Egyptians weren’t doing so well under Mubarak’s leadership, but in that regard too those pathetic citizens are completely indistinguishable from most of the other Middle Eastern citizens around them.  What makes Mubarak — and therefore Egypt — different, is that Mubarak steadfastly held to the Camp David peace accords.  He allowed his citizens to become infected with the worst type of antisemitism, but neither he nor his military went in for a repeat of 1948 or 1967.

Looking at things from Israel’s view, Mubarak was a good thing for them, and no worse for his citizens than any other tyrannical Middle Eastern leader Muslims in the Middle EAst would inevitably have suffered.   He was a win for Israel, and a wash for his own citizens.  For Israel, his leadership was no harm and no foul.

Now let’s think about President Obama and his administration for a few minutes.  Obama is very empathetic, right?  I know this, because he assured us that empathy is an extremely important quality:

“I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles, as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

Or, as Clinton more pithily said, “I feel your pain.”

You’d think that, with his natural appreciation for empathy, President Obama would have felt for the Israelis when Egypt suddenly ran off the rails.  From their point of view, the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood within Egypt, yet another organization loudly and explicitly dedicated to Israel’s destruction, was an untenable risk.  Israel’s geographic isolation, and its neighbor’s homicidal antipathy, meant that Israel would invariably prefer the known Mubarak imp over the equally known, but infinitely more scary, Muslim Brotherhood devil any day.  And as I said, from the point of view of Egypt’s citizens, it’s six of one secular military dictatorships, versus half a dozen Islamic totalitarian dictatorships.  They’re screwed regardless.

But was Obama empathetic?  No.  Decidedly no.  Instead, he was — and I quote — “disgusted.”  Yes, the notion of a small, liberal, democratic republic looking at the possibility of yet another genocidal nation on its borders, rather than stirring the milk of human kindness in Obama’s veins, roused him to disgust (emphasis mine):

Rather than even listening to what the democracy youth in Tahrir Square were saying and then trying to digest what it meant, this Israeli government took two approaches during the last three weeks: Frantically calling the White House and telling the president he must not abandon Pharaoh – to the point where the White House was thoroughly disgusted with its Israeli interlocutors – and using the opportunity to score propaganda points: “Look at us! Look at us! We told you so! We are the only stable country in the region, because we are the only democracy.’’

The only pain, apparently, that Obama felt was ennui when forced to listen to people who are worried that, in the next few days, weeks or months, they will be subject to military attack from all sides.

Well, I have to confess that I too am empathetic.  You see, when I think of Obama and his administration, as well as their fellow travels at the New York Times, I know exactly what disgust feels like.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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