That ‘Special’ Relationship

Sometimes it feels as though if you don’t ask for something, you are never going to get it.

This is particularly true when it comes to the matter of how the Obama administration regards violent attacks against Jews — especially if those Jews happen to be in Israel. Who doesn’t remember when, after the horrific attack at the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris,  Press Secretary Josh Earnest doubled down on the president’s foolish use of the word “random” to describe the victims of that attack? How, to quote Earnest, “the adverb that the president chose was used to indicate that the individuals who were killed in that terrible tragic incident were killed,” according to the president, “not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.”

This despite, as AP reporter Matt Lee incredulously asked then-State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki when she reiterated this position, “If a guy goes into a kosher market and starts shooting it up, you don’t [think] — he’s not looking for Buddhists, is he? Who does the administration expect shops at a kosher [establishment]?” Eventually, after they had to deal with the fallout, the administration begrudgingly admitted that they had “always been clear that the attack on the kosher grocery store was an anti-Semitic attack.”

Lee was at it again last week, exposing an apparent contradiction in how certain situations are dealt with by Team Obama. When the U.S. military bombed a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan — whose existence they were aware of, since Doctors Without Borders had given them the coordinates of the hospital — they originally said they had carried out the strikes because they had suspected there were militants operating nearby. Lee asked the State Department for an explanation as to how this was any different from when, during last summer’s Gaza war, Israel had bombed an UNRWA school, something they were quick to condemn as “disgraceful.” The rationale was similarly dismissed, in a statement that read: “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians” — the very same rationale employed here and now by the U.S. military.

There clearly are two standards.

The recent wave of terror which has engulfed the Holy Land has many people wondering if this is the start of a third “intifada.” But not this administration. They took a week (and considerable pressure) to decide whether or not they can describe a wave of violence as “terrorism” and are still unable to condemn the murder of innocent Jews without finding some misdeed on the part of the Israeli government or people to cram into that condemnation so that they can equally condemn “both sides.”

These are the kinds of actions that lead many people to question whether or not the president and his people have something against Israel and her people. The kind of treatment nobody else has to put up with, and the rhetoric employed when discussing their leaders, can really make a person think.

For my part, I don’t agree with that point of view. But I don’t agree with the people who defend the president, either. The truth, as it so often is, is most likely to be found somewhere in the middle.

What might it be that motivates a president and some of his closest advisors to continually dismiss the concerns of the closest ally of the United States of America in the most volatile region in the world? What reason could justify the kind of shabby treatment this special ally continues to get?

For a while now, I have thought that the logical explanation is that, simply put, President Obama doesn’t really see it that way. Back in May, when President Obama hosted a summit at Camp David for the leaders of the Gulf countries, he sat for an interview with Al Arabiya. During the half-hour conversation, the president said something which passed mostly unnoticed by the general media. He said, “Our closest friends in the region are the Gulf countries, and that relationship dates back for decades now.”

Obviously, that means the “closeness” he sees between this country and the Jewish state is surpassed by the “closeness” of the U.S. with others in that region.

This theory of mine got a huge boost from recent interviews done by Dennis Ross, in advance of the release of his new book. Ross, a former Obama advisor (and consequently someone whom defenders of the president vis-à-vis his relationship with Israel will have a hard time dismissing à la Michael Oren), said that National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who is very influential and close to the president, “represents a mindset and a constituency … that looked at Israel as a problem. It was a problem for us. It was something we had to deal with, and it created a problem for us in the region.”

If Ross is right (and there is little reason to believe he isn’t), everything makes sense. If Israel is nothing more than a problem, and there is nothing special about the relationship between the two countries, it kind of makes sense that the president and his people don’t ever seem ready to go out on a limb for the Jewish state.

If there isn’t anything inherently special about it, it really just isn’t worth it.