OTR Interviews

Is President Obama 'abandoning' Israel?

Jerusalem Post columnist on why he accuses the president of not standing by the US's closest ally and why he calls Secretary of State John Kerry 'inept'

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 29, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A "Jerusalem Post" columnist slamming President Obama, accusing him of abandoning Israel. He goes further, calling Secretary of State John Kerry, as just noted, inept.

Columnist Isi Leibler joins us. Good evening, sir.

ISI LEIBLER, COLUMNIST, THE JERUSALEM POST: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me start, first, with your headline on your column that says, "Obama," meaning President Obama, "is abandoning Israel." Why do you say that, sir?

LEIBLER: I say that because we feel that we would have expected the president of the United States to stand by an ally and not create a situation in which Hamas gets a feeling that the United States will somehow rather get them out of trouble. If he would have stood forward, instead of -- he went through the ritual of stating that he understands our need to defend ourselves but then came down very hard on our efforts to defend ourselves and to move into any kind of military activity. And now he has been putting enormous pressure on us and calling for a unilateral cease- fire. We have accepted a series of unilateral cease-fires. But this unilateral cease-fire, if it suggests that it's going to be based on no change in the present system, is, to my mind, a betrayal. I think one has to understand we are not two entities facing one another. The state of Israel is a democratic country and we are facing a group of people who are dominating a small area, but they are effectively the worst terrorists one can imagine. They are sending thousands of rockets on our civilians. They are sending people in to kill women and children.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Yeah. Let me just ask you about your comments also about Secretary Kerry. In your article you say, "The uninvited presence of Kerry," meaning our secretary, "who many Israelis now regard as an unguided missile and has been making off-the-cuff, sarcastic remarks about the Israeli failure to avoid Palestinian casualties, will only encourage Hamas to maintain missile attacks." It's almost like you are saying he is on the other side and he is deliberately -- the way I read this is that you think he is deliberately trying to hurt Israel.

LEIBLER: Well, if he is deliberately doing it or not deliberately doing it, I don't know. But he is certainly hurting us because I agree that there is a tremendous human tragedy involved in the casualties, but one has to understand that we are defending our own people. And it has to be put in the context, a context in which unilateral -- in which it's unique. You have never had a situation where a win-win situation for our enemies is kill as many Israelis as possible, but if that doesn't work, kill as many of our own and we will use it for propaganda. That has to be put into context. It has to be put into context. They are being used as human shields, these people.

The command post, the rocket launchers, they are all in the center of civilian activity. And why what are we supposed to do? I just wonder what the United States would do if Cuba started reigning a couple thousand missiles upon them and sending terrorists into the United States, how they would respond. And if there is way of responding in which we could respond with less casualties, let us know, because I believe that this Israeli army has behaved in a manner unprecedented in the history of warfare. No one has taken as many steps as we have taken to try to minimize warfare. We have the fire power, if we wanted to, to take the whole country out. And we are doing our best to minimize it. But, unfortunately, there are tragedies. And they should be pointed towards Hamas, who are responsible, not towards us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Leibler, thank you very much for joining us, sir.

LEIBLER: My pleasure.