Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in The Washington Times.
This week, a terrorist group tried to shut down Israel’s airport, and couldn’t. So President Obama stepped in and did it for them.
I’m speaking, of course, of the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, ostensibly after a Hamas rocket crashed about a mile away. The initial ban was on Tuesday for 24 hours, after which the FAA extended it for another day.
All that came to an end late Wednesday when the FAA announced it was suddenly lifting the ban saying, according to The New York Times, that it was “satisfied with the security precautions Israel had taken to assure flight safety at the airport.”
The Washington Times also reported: “The agency made its decision late Wednesday after working with other U.S. government entities to assess the security situation in Israel.”
Really? It’s all rather perplexing. Wouldn’t we, as allies of Israel, decide to check first with Israeli authorities to determine if we would be “satisfied with their security precautions?” Considering the Israelis are known for having the most secure airline and airport in the world, it seemed strange that our action would be to ban first and ask questions later.
Unless, of course, the flight ban had nothing to do with flight security, and everything to do with a thuggish and petty attempt by the Obama administration to intimidate Israel into a cease-fire deal. It seems like a rather Cosa Nostra way of illustrating the economic damage the United States could inflict on Israel if it doesn’t meet Mr. Obama’s demands.
Israel, in fact, accepted the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire proposal. Remember that? But Hamas, the terrorist organization holding the Palestinian people hostage, did not. In this case, the demand would likely be for Israel to accept an even more compromising cease-fire.
You see, just as the flight ban went into effect on Tuesday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry was meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi in Cairo, discussing efforts to restart cease-fire talks.
On Wednesday, as the ban was extended for the second day, Mr. Kerry then flew, ironically enough, to Tel Aviv, landing at the supposedly way-too-dangerous Ben Gurion Airport, to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push the deal.
The Obama administration is known to be somewhat ham-handed when it comes to its treatment of Israel. Last week, commenting on Fox News, journalist Judith Miller noted, “The Israelis believe the president has not been sympathetic to them .”
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, also expresses concern about Mr. Obama’s attitude toward the Jewish state and the intention of the ban. He told Fox News, “Yesterday, we saw the FAA make an unprecedented decision to ban all air travel to the nation of Israel. And I’ve asked today the very simple question: Did President Obama just unilaterally launch economic boycotts on the nation of Israel … ?”
“This decision by the FAA raises serious questions. Was this a political decision? Was it driven by the White House? Was it driven by the State Department?” asked Mr. Cruz. “If it was based on airline safety, as they said, why did they single out Israel? Why not ban travel to Pakistan, or Yemen or Ukraine, where a commercial airliner just got shot down ?”
Indeed. Why not a ban on flights into Kiev, as Ukraine’s military announced two of their fighter jets were shot down Wednesday morning by pro-Russian forces?
As a Twitter user pointed out, why not a flight ban into Pakistan’s Karachi airport, which was attacked by terrorists just six months ago? No flight ban then; no flight ban now.
There are reports that the flight ban has already harmed Israel and provided Hamas with at least a psychological victory. CNN reported: “The FAA’s ban on U.S. flights to and from Israel’s main airport for a second day marks another blow to that country’s economy and a success for Hamas militants, experts said Wednesday.”
Are there risks during time of war? Of course. But the issue here is this: Is American policy being employed in a legitimate way to help protect our citizenry, or is it being used as a cudgel against nations to whom the Obama administration isn’t “sympathetic”?
In other words, have we, the United States of America, been “fundamentally transformed” into a gang of immature teenage bullies?
Our world is one where Islamist ISIS continues its rampage in Iraq, terrorizing Christians and attacking Baghdad; where Islamist Syria continues its genocidal campaign, costing at least 170,000 lives; where a Russian-backed gang terrorizes another sovereign nation; where Islamist Boko Haram in Nigeria continues its campaign of mass kidnapping of girls, terrorism and killings.
Yet the Obama administration is intervening decisively in only one international crisis: by threatening the besieged Jewish nation with an economic boycott via a flight ban, which also happens to assist the goals of the Islamist terrorists committed to Israel’s destruction.
It’s time we ask Mr. Obama and his administration sycophants: Why?
Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.