In the next several days, President Barack Obama will deliver two major addresses on the Middle East. The first, to take place on Thursday, will renew his effort to reach out to the Muslim world, in the wake of the Arab Spring and the death of Osama bin Laden. The second, on Sunday, will be delivered to pro-Israel activists at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, DC...
Obama at 2008 AIPAC Policy Conference
It is useful to examine some of the major promises he made the last time he spoke to AIPAC, in the midst of the 2008 elections:
“Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Obama’s promise was greeted with an enthusiastic ovation by the AIPAC delegates. But he began walking it back almost immediately, and throughout his administration he has strongly opposed construction in Jewish areas of East Jerusalem–an objection that would make no sense if he truly believed the city should be “undivided.” Obama is now expected to call for Jerusalem to be shared between Israel and a Palestinian state.
“We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran…That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy without self-defeating preconditions…”
Obama has not even used “aggressive, principled diplomacy” against Iran. In June 2009, as pro-democracy protestors confronted the regime in the streets of Tehran, Obama refused to speak out. He delayed approving stronger sanctions against Iran, and allowed Iran to strengthen its influence in Turkey, Syria–and Afghanistan, too. Even European leaders grew frustrated with Obama’s diplomatic foot-dragging on Iran.
“Israel can also advance the cause of peace by…refrain[ing] from building new settlements — as it agreed to with the Bush administration at Annapolis.”
The Annapolis agreement did not specify that Israel would refrain from building new settlements–in fact, all understood that settlements would be part of negotiations towards a two-state solution. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have chosen to ignore real agreements between Israel and the Bush administration, such as the assurance given to Israel in 2004 that the U.S. would accept limited growth within existing settlements.
“[T]he bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable today, tomorrow and forever.”
Obama has tested that bond repeatedly–whether portraying Israeli construction in East Jerusalem as the obstacle to negotiations, declaring Israeli settlements “illegitimate” in spite of previous understandings, supporting UN institutions that do little but condemn Israel, snubbing Netanyahu at the White House, and implying in his Cairo speech that Palestinian suffering was comparable to Jewish suffering in the H