Former member of Knesset Dov Lipman’s blistering criticism of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s new book, A Promised Land, doesn’t go far enough. Obama’s sentiments towards Israel—and the Jews, for that matter—have never been a secret. Lipman correctly thanks Obama for his economic and military support for Israel (as a form of hakarat hatov, “recognizing the good”).
But in this case, he should have thanked the United States. In spite of Obama’s being a nascent progressive, America wasn’t yet ready for the radical objectives that he had in mind. Had Obama not allowed support for Israel, there would have been a very big push back from the large pro-Israel evangelical lobby. The Israel-supportive sentiments were not shared by the president.
Lipman highlights Obama’s “flawed understanding” of the Middle East, which “clearly impacted his policies as president [and] misleads readers in a way that will forever shape their negative perspective of the Jewish state.”
He points out that in the book’s depiction of the history of the British occupation of Palestine, Obama conveniently neglected to mention the League of Nations mandate that Palestine should be established as a national home for the Jewish people. Lipman complains that this omission further misinforms the reader.
Does Lipman really think, however, that this is misinformation on Obama’s part? Or is it disinformation? Is Obama not piggy-backing on the pandemic of “fake news,” such that “if it’s printed, it must be true”?
It certainly appears that Obama’s intention is for his readers to conclude that the “movement for a Jewish state in Palestine had no legitimacy or international consent,” portraying the Jews as “strong conquerors flooding into Palestine,” and not “a persecuted and desperate people searching for safety.”
Obama also refers to and uses the term “Zionist leaders” instead of “Jewish leaders.” But heaven forbid anyone should accuse Obama of being an anti-Semite. He is only anti-Zionist and is conveniently encouraging his readers to be the same.
Indeed, the book is rife with descriptions that would lead a reader with no knowledge of the subject to assume that the Jewish state is illegitimate. After all, it ostensibly “wronged others to establish itself,” and is the “aggressive occupier that seeks conflict and not peace.”
It’s too late to vote based on what emerges in the book as Obama’s true feelings about Israel. He already served eight years as president. The past is the past.
But let’s fast forward to the present. All new players? Not really. Looking at Biden’s cast of appointees, it appears nothing less than homecoming day. There is no doubt whatsoever that Obama and his minions are machinating behind the scenes. To quote Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
Lipman writes that “Israelis should not engage in or interfere with American politics.” Does he really believe, however, that Israel can take a laissez faire attitude towards other nations’ politics or political agendas when they may have a direct impact on Israel’s strengths and viabilities?
In light of an incoming administration in Washington headed by the man who served as Obama’s vice president—and on the heels of the publication of Obama’s book—does Lipman still feel that Israelis should refrain from opining on American politics?
Gerald Platt is the president of American Friends of Likud.