Reality Hits

We’ve already gone several rounds on how Bush, McCain and Obama stack up when it comes to Israel. Now that Olmert has finally decided that Kassam rockets raining on Sderot deserve a bit more than improved bomb shelters in response, all our statements about Bush’s amazingly pro-Israel position, and our concerns about Obama, are all-too-rapidly being verified. First, let’s look at the current US Administration’s response to the violence on the Israel-Hamastan border:

The U.S. on Saturday blamed the militant group Hamas for breaking a cease-fire and attacking Israel, which retaliated with strikes of its own during what became the single bloodiest day of fighting in years…

It was “completely unacceptable” for Hamas, which controls Gaza, to launch attacks on Israel after a truce lasting several months, said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

“These people are nothing but thugs, so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas that indiscriminately kill their own people,” Johndroe said in Texas as President George W. Bush was spending the week before New Year’s at his ranch here. “They need to stop. We have said in the past that they have a choice to make. You can’t have one foot in politics and one foot in terror.”

Asked if the United States would back a continuation of the retaliatory strikes by Israel, Johndroe said: “The U.S. doesn’t want to see any more violence. I think what we’ve got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel. That’s what precipitated this.”

“The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza,” Rice said in a statement.

That is a diplomatic green light for continued military action by Israel. Now, lest any of our liberal commenters continue to believe that Obama might possibly see things the same way, Brooke Anderson, Obama’s national security spokeswoman, is willing to dump the bucket river of cold water necessary to awaken them. “She said Saturday that Obama ‘is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza, but there is one president at a time.'” In other words, if you think Obama and Bush see eye to eye… well, iy”H this war will be over long before January 20.

[Update Dec. 28, 12:30 PM:] House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is reportedly a “close Obama ally,” said the following (hat tip: Politico):

“Peace between Israelis and Palestinians cannot result from daily barrages of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-controlled Gaza,” she said. “Hamas and its supporters must understand that Gaza cannot and will not be allowed to be a sanctuary for attacks on Israel.”

And AIPAC Spokesman Josh Block added:

Obama said during a visit to Israel last summer that he didn’t “think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens. If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

So… maybe not. We shall see.

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22 Responses

  1. Ellen Lebowicz says:

    Oh, that Bush would have felt comfortable earlier than 3 weeks before his exit to stop with the political correctness and say what he really felt. Interesting that Olmert, on his way out, also did the right thing rather than try to cater to the people he’d hoped would keep him in office. Maybe all political terms should be about 2 months long.

  2. L. Oberstein says:

    Today Israel launched an operation in Gaza. Though we get our news by reading articles on the computer, we should never lose sight that the People of Israel are our flesh and blood. These soldiers and the residents of border towns are our family. Israel has shown remarkable restraint up to now and my guess is that, despite the vocal condemnations being heard, most governments, even many Arab ones, are hoping that Israel succeeds. It is hard when one does the right thing and then hypocrites accuse you of using too much force or not giving negotiations a chance. They don’t believe it themselves unless they are anti-Semites. I get the impression that Israel has learned the lessons of the misdirected Lebanon War and has a better game plan. I hope it works. Meanwhile pray for our people. The best present we could give the Palestinians is to destroy Hamas. Gaza could be a flourishing mini state if it were led by people who wanted peace and co-existence. Hamas thrives on misery, it needs to be uprooted. I hope this campaign succeeds.

  3. Noam says:

    I certainly agree that it would have been much more preferable for Obama to show support for Israel and condemn Hamas. On the other hand, he has frequently, especially on foreign affairs, declined to comment on issues. The statement that was issued seems to be non-committal. Anyone can read anything they want into the statement. Rabbi Menken is reading his personal opinion into the statement. His personal opinion may turn out to be correct. On the other hand, the statement itself provides absolutely no support for his opinion. It doesn’t support any opinion except that Obama doesn’t want to take a public stand on the issue at this time. I fail to see how this statement provides proof for Rabbi Menken’s conclusion that Obama and Bush don’t see eye to eye on the subject. They may not, but this statement is not proof. The only thing proven by this post is Rabbi Menken’s desire to assume the worst about Obama.

  4. aron feldman says:


    You haven’t answered the question

    You and many other Jews have been dancing the “Kahzatzka” so to speak, on the appointments (especially the Jewish ones)in the incoming Obama adm.Do you think they will have the same attitude as the outgoing adm. or they will have to take a more “even handed” approach?

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    President-elect Obama is correct in not making a strong statement and letting President Bush take the lead. His past statements did not indicate any sympathy whatsoever for Hamas.

    But in the mean time, over on there are a bunch of clueless folks who are making apologies for Hamas and openly siding with them against Israel. I and a few others who might have actually read Hamas’ charter and have been following the regular rocket attacks have been trying to speak some sense, but we could use some help. We don’t gain much when we share with each other on Jewish forums how awful Hamas is and how justified is Israel in doing something; we need to do kiruv to those who don’t understand. Any help would be appreciated.

  6. Rachel Freedland says:

    As always I have no clue what HKB”H has in mind. I do feel though that a HUGE thank you to Him is warranted for the results. So this is what happens when both, President Bush and Olmert get mad and even at the Jewish Leftists who so betrayed them both.

    Am I guessing correctly that Olmert being Olmert would NOT do this unless he had President Bush’s consent?? Only Hashem can concoct such a reality…

    Let’s not miss the greatness of this Chanukah miracle, and both thank Hashem for his chessed as well as daven for the chayalim( soldiers) that are putting their lives for us, yet again.

  7. YM says:

    In the 2006 Lebanon War, Israel was in the end not willing to take 2,000 casualties to destroy Hisbollah. You can debate all day whether Israel lost that war, or really won, or broke even. It does seem like Israel did a better job of thinking this through before attacking; still I doubt that anything Israel does will turn out advantageous, since I believe their (our?) problems are metaphysical.

  8. Yaakov Menken says:


    The difference between you and others is that many of us have already reached the conclusion that on most any issue, the denizens of Daily Kos care only about what left-wing celebrities tell them to think, and little things like facts are insignificant in the face of what they are taught. They are less cognizant of reality than the most intense of the Bible-thumping fundamentalists they deride.

    For them to recognize that Israeli children have a right to live in peace would be a Chanukah miracle worthy of another 8 candles.

    These are those who elected Obama. Let’s just hope he keeps disappointing them.

  9. Rachel Freedland says:

    Mr. Hall,
    I do believe the “clueless folks” are clueless by choice.
    Found the following in my archives from 2006- Lebanon War. This was all over the non-Jewish news!

    Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, responded at the New York rally: “To those countries in there who claim that we’re using disproportionate force, I have only this to say: You’re damn right we are. Because if your cities were shelled the way ours were, if your citizens were terrorized the way ours are, you would use much more force than we are using.’‘.

    Unfortunately, couldn’t have said it better..

  10. A Q says:

    No where is there anything in Pelosi or Obama’s comments that indicate any diefferene with Bush. I think that there may be differences but you’re one-sided view is ridiculous. Furthermore to blame Obama for things that are said by Pelosi is absurd. It is already clear that his biggest headache is going to be dealing with the congressional democrats. She is hardly a close ally just because she is also a leader in the party. Thats like saying Mccain is/was a close ally of Bush.
    To summarize Obama said he isn’t saying anything about foreign affairs – perfectly legitimate not to have 2 commanders in chief.
    Pelosi said hamas has to stop and didn’t condemn Israel.
    Third, Aipac spokesman says that Obama told him that he would use force to stop rocket barrages.
    I fail to see any shred of evidence to your theory.

  11. Bob Miller says:

    With some people who get elected, we hope they will follow through to put their past ideas into practice. With Obama, quite the opposite; we hope some sanity will kick in as if by magic to make him finally say and do the right things.

  12. Yaakov Menken says:

    AQ, on the contrary… it’s clear you didn’t read what Pelosi said carefully. It was entirely consistent with the Bush Administration position, leading me to conclude “maybe not” on what I’d written previously. If Obama’s views are consistent with Pelosi’s, Hamas will be disappointed.

    Nonetheless, it is foolish to believe that a “non-committal” response has no consequences. Throughout Europe, the pro-Hamas folks believe that Obama will take a “more balanced” approach between the good guys and the terrorists. This emboldens Hamas, encouraging them to believe that if they can just last until January 20, the incoming administration will force Israel to abandon its efforts. That is distinctly unhelpful.

    Why did Obama not make a statement similar to Pelosi’s? “We stand with the current administration in this matter” would similarly not “jump the gun” as far as the Presidency, while also sending Hamas the message that it should not expect warmer treatment in another 23 days. I think it naive to read nothing into his failure to do so.

  13. LOberstein says:

    “You and many other Jews have been dancing the “Kahzatzka” so to speak,”
    I would love to be able to dance the kahzatzka, it would be that I was agile and and muscular and a good dancer, halevai.
    From my vast expertise that comes from watching TV newscasts, I conclude that the US gave the green light to this Israeli campaign. It may be davka now so that Bush can approve it with no downside and Obama doesn’t have to comment. What his position will be will be revealed soon enough.
    The problem in the Middle East is that the Arabs are mentally ill. It is impossible to have a logical discussion of the merits of an issue with someone who is consumed by feeling of inferiotity and humiliation, who feels his religion is the only true one and can’t deal with reality. Too many Arabs live in a fantasy world consumed by fanaticism.
    The caveat that should come at this point in polite conversation is that the majority of Arabs are not fanatics. Not having a whole lot of Arab buddies, I can’t comment. I hope so.

  14. Moe says:

    It’s difficult to understand how from the statement “but there is one president at a time.’” ” one can derive any conclusions about Obama’s policy towards Gaza. It’s certainly no “awakening” to “reality”. Better to reserve judgment than to bolster your argument on a “no comment.”

  15. Charlie Hall says:

    Dear Rabbi Menken,

    After having spend most of my limited spare time defending Israel on dailykos, I can report the following:

    (1) There are a small number of people there who seem to live to write anti-Israel propaganda. (They must not have day jobs — or maybe their day job is to write this propaganda.) These folks are hopeless.

    (2) The majority (but not the overwhelming majority) see the current situation as Big Bad Israel against Poor Defenseless Palestinians. They aren’t anti-Semites but they don’t understand what is going on and has been going on. I don’t think that it is so much imitating Opinion Leaders — few if any elected politicians in the Democratic Party make excuses for Hamas — as it is a knee-jerk reaction based on ignorance.

    (3) A lot of folks there really don’t like Hamas, but question whether Israel is “overreacting”. I think this is more a reaction to *any* use of force for any reason and may be a spillover from America’s unsuccessful involvement in Vietnam and the costly involvement in Iraq. A lot of folks are still fighting the battles of the ’60s.

    (4) The efforts of myself and a few other pro-Israel commenters have changed a few opinions.

    (5) What has been most effective at changing opinions has been to post excepts from and links to the Hamas charter. Many of the people I described in (2) had no idea what Hamas ideology is about; they saw Hamas as just a religious movement of National Liberation, not much different from Religious Zionism. Here is a link to the Hamas Charter: I urge everyone here to read it to see what we are up against.

    (6) The Hamas apologists have made some use of quotes from extremist Jewish leaders, in particularly the ones calling for expulsion of Arabs from the Land of Israel. Such talk makes us look just as crazy as Hamas. I don’t have to tell everyone here that such is not the mainstream viewpoint of supporters of Zionism and has very little support, but folks outside our community don’t know that.

    I hope more of us will defend Israel in forums that aren’t necessarily friendly.

    Thank you for this opportunity to report.

  16. Another Mordechai says:

    Professor Hall:
    You deserve to be highly commended.

  17. Yossel says:

    How quickly you forget that it was Bush who forced Israel out of Gaza. It was Bush who forced Israel to leave Lebanon with the job unfinished. It was Bush who coerced them into allowing Hamas candidates in the elections, and also allowing Yerushalayim Arabs to vote in that election.
    It was his Secretary of State, Rice who stood arm-in-arm with Hamas in Gaza and repeatedly referred to them as “resistance fighters” We wouldn’t have these tsuris if it wasn’t for Bush’s pro-Arab/anti-Israel policies to begin with.

  18. Yaakov Menken says:

    Yossel, you’re absolutely right about Rice failing to call Hamas terrorists but a “resistance movement,” for which she was most deservedly excoriated. I think that one Berlin speech was the first and last time she did that, and she certainly never stood “arm-in-arm” with them.

    But it’s a rewrite of history to claim “it was Bush who forced Israel out of Gaza.” No, this disaster Israel’s “leaders” inflicted on their own citizens.

  19. Ori says:

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken: But it’s a rewrite of history to claim “it was Bush who forced Israel out of Gaza.” No, this disaster Israel’s “leaders” inflicted on their own citizens.

    Ori: Why do you put leaders in quotes? It was conceived by Ariel Sharon and ordered by Ehud Olmert, both duly elected Prime Ministers at the time. The fact that a policy is stupid does not make it illegitimate.

    Yossel, last time I checked Israel was a sovereign nation. AFAIK, Bush did not threaten to send the US military if Israel didn’t leave Lebanon or Gaza.

  20. Sholom says:

    Why did Obama not make a statement similar to Pelosi’s?

    Oh, please. He’s already said dozens of times why he is not making strong statements about hot topics — because he believes that their should be one president at a time.

    So now Obama’s taken to task for respecting what’s left of Bush’s presidency?

  21. Bob Miller says:

    Don’t expect some burst of candor from the White House after the coronation.

  22. Ori says:

    At the risk of beating a horse that is not only dead, but whose bones have long been made into glue, here’s an opposite view of Obama’s silence. It seems that people take Obama’s silence as opposed to whatever they think he should say.

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