President George Washington did something amazing in 1790. He delivered an address--often described as his Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport. Washington’s address was given in response to the congratulations he had received from Rhode Island’s oldest Jewish community. The Jews’ letter to the President applauded the formation of the Washington’s administration under the new Constitution. Their letter to the President used a wonderful phrase: “This government gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” These words have for centuries been attributed gratefully to Washington, but they were first addressed to him. Washington was the first ruler in human history to address the Jews as equal fellow citizens. That is but one of many reasons to honor the Founders‘ work and to recognize its continuing importance. Washington concluded his address with a ringing phrase from Scripture: “Let each sit under his own vine and fig tree and let there be none to make him afraid.” (I Kings 4:25)
It’s worth remembering that amazing Washington letter. Next week, in the city of Washington, more than 40 nations’ representatives will gather for President Obama’s “Nuclear Security Summit.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be one of them.
Netanyahu recently visited President Obama in the White House. There was no press availability. No joint press conference. No state dinner. No White House welcoming ceremony. Netanyahu’s limousine was nearly invisible as it left Capitol Hill. It was surrounded by a thick cordon of police vehicles as it raced through the halted traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue. If you blinked, you would have missed it.
Netanyahu is said to fear that Arab and Muslim invitees to the President’s Convention Center extravaganza intend to “gang up” on Israel. He is concerned that they will dramatically present a demand for Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rather than come under such pressure in such an arena, Netanyahu is staying away. Perhaps he is sitting under his own vine and fig tree.
Only four percent of Israelis, according to a recent poll, think President Obama is a friend of Israel. Four percent. The irreverent question immediately pops up: What is that four percent thinking?
Compare President Obama’s abasement of himself before the King of Saudi Arabia with his treatment of Israel’s democratically-elected leader. Any Israeli can call for Netanyahu to step down. Any Saudi who wants to elect a new ruler is invited to take part in the desert kingdom’s idea of a census: There’s quickly one less Saudi head to count.
It’s not just President Obama who has given the cold shoulder to the Israelis. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech to American friends of Israel in which she denounced the terrorist group, Hamas, for naming public squares for suicide bombers. Oh, Hamas does that for sure. But so do our “Peace Process” partners, the PLO. And this administration is giving the PLO $900 million in U.S. tax dollars.
Andy McCarthy of the National Review points to Gen. David Petraeus’ view of the Mideast conflict. McCarthy respects, as we all respect, Gen. Petraeus' courage and skill. But McCarthy notes that Petraeus' tilt toward the Palestinians is dangerously unbalancing U.S. policy in the region. McCarthy writes:
Rami Khouri, a renowned Palestinian-American progressive who blames Ariel Sharon for the existence of Hamas and Hezbollah, could barely contain his delight that Petraeus had “openly criticized Israel.” “The top military leadership speaking out in public with such clarity,” he proclaimed in Middle East Online, “is about as serious as it gets in terms of credible criticisms in Washington.” His views were amplified elsewhere: “By now General David Petraeus’s warning that U.S. policy with Israel is negatively affecting the Middle East has spread far and wide.”
Is this what the new administration policy will be? Obama has scrubbed references to radical Islamic terrorism from U.S. strategic doctrine. President Obama is often said to be pursuing a Wilsonian line in foreign policy. Wilson wanted, ineffectually, “to make the world safe for democracy.” Is Obama trying to make the world safe for Islam? He has signaled every rogue state that they can attack the United States of America with chemical or biological weapons without fearing nuclear retaliation. Is he going to make Israel join in that suicide pact?
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, and a member of the board of advisers of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. He is the co-author of the forthcoming book "The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency."
J. Kenneth Blackwell is a board member of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. He served as mayor of Cincinnati and as U.S. Human Rights Ambassador at the U.N.