Victor Davis Hanson

Israel, Jews, and the Obama Administration

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

President Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Oct 1st, 2014. (Rex Features via AP Images)

President Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Oct 1st, 2014. (Rex Features via AP Images)

Even some Democrats in Congress have come to the conclusion that after the brouhaha over Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, President Obama wants to radically downgrade the long American special relationship with democratic Jewish Israel — and perhaps has a dislike of the idea of Israel. Add up the administration’s initial disparagement on the matter of Israeli settlements, untoward administration remarks during the Gaza War, its assumptions that a future autonomous West Bank had a right to insist on becoming Judenfrei, its downplaying the Iranian nuclear threat, John Kerry’s various editorializing about Israeli supposed overreactions, the constant hectoring of Israel, and rumors of a slowdown in military aid to Israel during the Gaza war, and so on and so on.

These acts seem to fit into a prior landscape of the administration’s anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli supposed slips, gaffes, and smears.

I thought it a bit strange that in 2008 the Obama campaign lobbied the Los Angeles Times [1] not to release a tape of Obama’s remarks at a 2003 dinner honoring Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi when then-state senator Obama supposedly thanked the latter for reminding him of his own “biases” and “blind spots” on the Middle East. Why not just release the innocuous tape I thought. But then again things happen at dinners.

I thought it a bit strange when would-be national security advisor to the 2008 Obama campaign, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hinted that he might think it a good idea to shoot down Israeli jets [2] should they go over U.S.-controlled Iraqi airspace on their way to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities. But then again everyone says strange things now and then.

I thought it a bit strange that Samantha Power [3] would become such a prominent Obama advisor after she hypothesized about sending U.S. forces into the Israeli-Palestinian dispute [4] to keep both sides honest. But then again it is easy to take things out of context. And who, after all, would even envision U.S. and Israeli soldiers shooting at each other?

I thought it a bit strange that Barack Obama’s minister, whose “audacity of hope” sloganeering became the title of Obama’s second book, whined shortly after his former protégé assumed the presidency, “Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me [5].” But then again one should not fall into the guilt-by-association trap of “birds of a feather flock together.”

I thought it was strange when Obama’s first call as president [6] went to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. But then again I shrugged that his first interview went to the newspaper Al-Arabiya, and he declared a “special relationship” with the virulently anti-Israeli Prime Minister and now President of Turkey Recep Erdogan.

I thought it strange that Obama in 2009 called in Jewish leaders only to lecture on the need to put “daylight” between Israel and the United States [7]. But then I assumed that these leaders did not seem too disturbed about such comments.

I thought it strange when Barack Obama stormed out of a White House meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and left him to stew alone for over an hour [8]. But then again I noted that he was hungry and wanted to step out for a while to dine alone with his family.

I thought it strange that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would leak the fact that for 43 minutes [9] — not 42 or 44 — she berated Prime Minister Netanyahu about settlements on the West Bank. But then who really counts minutes on the phone?

I thought it a bit strange that Al Sharpton became Obama’s chief contact with the African-American community and a habitual visitor to the Oval Office, given that he has a long history [10] of anti-Semitism slurs, highlighted by eerie quotes like “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house!”  But then again, I wrote that off as just another Jesse Jackson-like Hymietown off-the-cuff quote.

I thought it strange that Obama trashed the Israeli prime minister in an open-mic putdown. But then I note that so did French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and thus so what?

I thought it strange when Obama’s ambassador to Belguim seemed to justify Islamic anti-Semitism as if it were the fault of Jews in Israel [11]: “A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned, and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians…an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.” But then I note that ambassadors are often not an impressive bunch.

I thought it strange that aides to the president in unattributed remarks would smear the combat veteran Netanyahu as both a “coward” and “a chickensh-t.” [12] But then again, who knows what is actually said off the record?

I thought it strange that after radical Islamic terrorists deliberately targeted a Jewish Kosher market in Paris to kill Jews the president would characterize the attacks cavalierly and inaccurately as terrorists who “randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” [13] I thought all that strange — and yet perhaps the pattern now not so strange.

After six years, all this — and far more examples — makes perfect sense. There is only one pattern to supposed gaffes and slips: they always go against the state of Israel and give the benefit of the doubt to its numerous enemies. The administration’s words about Israel naturally explain its deeds, and then again its deeds its words: Barack Obama is not and has never been fond of Israel, both the reasoning for its existence and the vigilance necessary for its continuance.

It’s time Americans accept this radical detour from 70 years of American foreign policy. It is what it is — and it is far from over yet.

Article printed from Works and Days:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] lobbied the Los Angeles Times:

[2] to shoot down Israeli jets:

[3] Samantha Power:

[4] sending U.S. forces into the Israeli-Palestinian dispute:

[5] Them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me:

[6] Obama’s first call as president:

[7] to put “daylight” between Israel and the United States:

[8] to stew alone for over an hour:

[9] for 43 minutes:

[10] a long history:

[11] as if it were the fault of Jews in Israel:

[12] as both a “coward” and “a chickensh-t.”:

[13] randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”:

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

21 Thoughts on “Israel, Jews, and the Obama Administration

  1. When I consider that Israel is a scapegoat for past western imperialism, Obama’s words and actions make perfect sense.

    The israelis are in the unenviable position of needing to keep the West Bank and Gaza for strategic reasons even though they need to let the people on those lands go. The simplest read of the situation casts the Palestinians as prisoners and Israel as their jailer.

    You don’t need to much mental gymnastics to make the history of the region fit the imperialist narrative.

  2. If the 3rd Worldview consists of all things Tribal, and the 2nd Worldview consists of all things Controlling, then the 1st Worldview of Individual Liberty thru protection against non-angelic leaders with devils on their shoulders always needing to be stopped ASAP… (So would think 2nd Worldview brainiacs like Obama.)

    Hence, the 2nd Worldview Controlling thinker despises, loathes and denies the very existence of a superior worldview, namely our Founding Fathers’ 1st Worldview of mutual dedication to self-restraint via a Republic.

    Hence, Obama has degraded the USA one level, to 2nd Worldview Control… desiring that all things representing a 1st Worldview of Liberty be erased, somehow That would be Israel.

    Notice that 2nd Worldview Controlling Europe cannot help 3rd Worldview Tribal Africa, because the EU wants to Control Africa, not give it DDT to snuff out Malaria and save lives. The 2nd Worldview of Control always sacrifices lives (banning DDT in Africa) by enhancing control (giving mosquito nets to Africa.)

    When the 3rd Worldview Tribal misbehaves, it acts like a caliphate or like Japan in WWII. When the 2nd Worldview Controlling misbehaves, it acts likes Nazis in WWII, or Russians as Soviets (then) or nation-takers (now?)

    Question is: Can the US return to 1st Worldview Liberty status? How can it when the Journalism factories make almost every commenter despise any POTUS candidate that isn’t a 2nd Worldview Controller idiot. For example, H. Clinton had to CONTROL her e-mail server, since her life consists of controlling everybody and everything for the sake of the great god Control. Most J-School graduates, brainwashed by the 2nd Worldview of Controlling, will do their damnedest to get her, or any other 2nd Worldview Controller, in charge of Controlling in 2016… and any 1st Worldview Liberty man or woman running for POTUS shall be despised….

    Hence 2nd Worldview Controllers must despise and by some clever means… eliminate Israel as 1st (and USA 1st Worldview leaders) examples of Liberty/Republic Freedom, since 1st Worldview leaders solve problems humanely… whilst 2nd Worldview Controlling leaders make problems to manage forever without so admitting.

  3. zygote314 on March 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm said:


    “The simplest read of the (Israel/Palestinian conflict) situation casts the Palestinians as prisoners and Israel as their jailer.”

    Simple reading, indeed. Perhaps a quick history lesson of the region would help you to realize how absurd your above statement is.

    Before 1915, the entire Middle-East was under the authority of the Turkish/Ottoman empire. After its collapse during World War One, the British and the French assumed control of much of this region through the Sykes-Picot agreement. The modern nations of Saudi Arabia and Jordan were wholly British creations, and the state of Israel was also born indirectly from this agreement in 1948, as well as by the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the UN partition plan in 1948 which the Arabs rejected. The West Bank had been a stateless annex of Jordan with the people living there in squalor and limbo. Jordan lost this piece of real estate after Israle successfully defended herself from Arab aggression during the 1967 Six Day War. The Gaza strip had been a possession of Egypt before 1967, but they refused to take it back after the 1978 Camp David peace agreement in which Israel gave back large areas of land back to Egypt in return for recognition and security assurances. In 2005, Israel pulled out of Gaza all together and the terror group Hamas – which is supported by Iran in order to wage a proxy war against Israel – filled the vacuum. Since then, Hamas has fired over 13,000 rockets into Israel and has waged a relentless terror campaign against Israel as a client state of Iran. I think Golda Meir summed up the Palestinian geo-political situation best.

    There were no such thing as a Palestinian state. When was there an independent Palestinian
    people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then
    it was Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine
    considering itself a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country
    away from them. They did not exist.

    Historic grievances of European imperialism are not what is keeping the Arabs in this region from realizing their own peaceful state along side Israel. It’s terrorism, anti-Semitism and Arab chauvinism. It’s too bad that neither you nor the President of the United States can understand this.

    • From my reading, prior to the rise of Arafat, both Arabs and Jews in Palestine were called Palestinians.

      Clever move by Arafat to clarify to the world that there were only Arabs in Palestine, and the world bought it.

      But of course the Koran makes clear who are human and who are subhuman.

  4. dupere on March 9, 2015 at 1:12 pm said:

    Once the roaches are finally exterminated in Iraq——- Iran, as you stated, de-facto control over a large portion of the Middle East !!! The USA needs a permanent base in Iraq and even more so, qualified leadership that restores the fear of testing American ” Shock and Awe” . Quite frankly, America and it’s Allies need to enter a war footing now. We also need to trust a stronger Germany and Japan, bringing the rest of Europe and Asia-pacific into a unified shock-and-awe, ass-kicking machine. Before it’s to late. The sharks smell the fecal matter leadership of the Obama-Merkel-Sarkozy trio.

  5. Just the facts, the facts and nothing but the facts.

  6. Mitch Miller on March 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm said:

    It’s very simple, JT — Eastern Imperialism good, Western Imperialism bad! Or to look at it another way, history stopped in 634, when the Arabs conquered Israel. Anybody conquering it after that is an imperialist interloper. Got it?

  7. Janets on March 9, 2015 at 4:13 pm said:

    I find the comparative body language of the two men fascinating in the photo you’ve used to illustrate this piece. Netanyahu looks confident, relaxed, open; Obama’s whole body is saying he doesn’t even want to be in the room. He’s stiff and ill-at-ease, leaning back and slightly away from Netanyahu; his legs are crossed away from Netanyahu as well, which tends to indicate a desire to move away or disconnect from someone. Even his facial expression looks strained, and his hands are clasped in the most defensive position for a man!

  8. Doctor French on March 9, 2015 at 4:15 pm said:

    Obama is the most un american president i my life time.
    His agenda is anti american and anti western civilisation to the core.
    Qui plus est, Obama can barely hide his Deep disgust to the jewish people and israel.
    For me his act and policy are Close to trahison.

    La confiance est brisée……

  9. dupere on March 9, 2015 at 4:25 pm said:

    “” In a test of wills, japanese fighter pilots confront chinese “” from the new york times. There needs to be a new unspoken agreement between the freedom loving democracies of the world, to slowly pull away from trade with China that is funding an unwarranted military buildout.

  10. Michael Fine on March 9, 2015 at 4:33 pm said:

    Excellent as usual, Professor. I would only add to this lamentable list the overt support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the inclusion of ranking members of that nefarious group to the White House. Also Obama’s recent “summit” on violent extremism which included individuals and organizations devoted to the destruction of Israel.

  11. A masterful appraisal of this game changing shift, as it slipped into place, millimetre by millimetre.

  12. It is traditionally considered to be McCarthyism for someone to say that a person with a pedigree such as Obama’s would not be a friend of Israel.

    The conformity of Populism brings a heavy weight of suspicion on anyone who criticizes the untouchables of our new elite caste.

  13. Hoi Polloi Boy on March 9, 2015 at 9:07 pm said:

    I thought it strange when a Christian country elected a Muslim as President.

  14. Rich on March 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm said:

    It’s beyond obvious that Mr. Obama hates the Prime Minister of Israel and Israel itself as epitomized by our President calling for Israel to return to its 1967 borders! And then he later declares that “I have Israel’s back!” on March 4, 2012 (another case of our Liar in Chief” at work).

    Today, the survival of Israel is in great jeopardy coupled by 1) the rapid rise of Iran which now has it surrounded on three sides by its surrogates and 2) the hostility of our President who is doing everything in his power to enable Iran in every way possible.

  15. Carl Sesar on March 10, 2015 at 7:10 am said:

    Of course, nothing’s strange about Obama’s words and deeds re Israel, they speak for themselves.

    That goes for Obama’s words and deeds in regard to America also.

    He is not fond of Israel or America.

  16. David Park on March 10, 2015 at 10:53 am said:

    Netanyahu is a true intellectual; Obama is not. Netanyahu was a soldier, a combat soldier, defended his country with weapons; Obama did none of these. Netanyahu is openly a Jew; Obama is a closet Muslim; Observation and experience indicate Netanyahu is not a racist; those two things indicate Obama certainly is. The Israeli electorate was wise to elect Netanyahu; the American electorate was unwise twice.

    • Rebecca on August 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm said:

      Oh Mr. Park! Please do not forget that some American’s have never voted for Mr. Obama. Ashamedly, I have to agree with you, but I never voted for him, nor will I ever vote for a person such as him. I am an American, a war veteran, a mother of four, and a friend of Israel. I will admit I like to live a private life “under a rock” as we say, but I will always remain a true friend to Israel. I am very upset by our current abandoning of Israel.

  17. Mark Katzman on March 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm said:

    All I want to say is, what an ugly, ugly individual now infests the WHouse! As an American Jew, I have a lot of anger toward the Jewish Community that supported this leftist monster in his quest for the Presidency. And the US populace voted him in a second time, knowing full well what damage he would do to this country.

  18. KevKev on March 12, 2015 at 1:53 am said:

    My worst fear seven years ago was that we had an indoctrinated “academic” in the White House whose mind was consumed with the anti-western teachings of Ivy League radicals. I knew at the time that our Israeli allies would be ostracized on the world stage. However, this article paints a far more grim picture than I could have fathomed. We currently have a president who holds a sense of contempt for the existence of an allied people. We have a president who does not recognize the inherent rights of a Jewish civilization to exist and assert it’s existence defensively. He did not attend lectures in a college/ law school classroom and pay the anti-Semitic/anti-colonial professors’ remarks mere lip service. He embodies and truly believes their lessons. He only pays lip-service to his inherited “covenant” with Israel as president of the United States. And that position is waning.

  19. F.C.O.L. on March 19, 2015 at 8:12 am said:

    Michelle must be so proud of America now, now that we have become the not to be trusted friend of our allies. How duplicitous can one man be? And how sad to be half of what you despise most.

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