After Seven Years of Obama, Israel Is Still Here

The following is Steve Sheffey's op-ed, which appeared today in The Hill

We were warned in 2008 that Barack Hussein Obama would abandon Israel at the U.N., force Israel back to the 1967 lines, cut aid to Israel and legitimize anti-Semitism. With less than a year left in Obama's presidency, he's got a lot of work to do.

If you grew up reading MAD magazine, let me know if I'm remembering this classic Dave Berg cartoon correctly. First panel: A family is getting ready for a trip to the beach. Everyone is happy and excited except for the father, who is sure it's going to rain. Second panel: The family is at the beach having fun in the bright sunshine, but the father is scowling about how nothing ever works out. He knows it's going to rain. Third panel: The family is driving home from the beach, the sun is shining and everyone is happy except the father, who is certain that it's going to rain. Last panel: The family is home, the day is done, the sun has set, and it's beginning to rain. The old man is all smiles as he jumps up in delight, exclaiming, "See! I knew it would rain."

Our Republican friends are still praying for rain. After seven years, the dire predictions about how Obama would be so bad for Israel have yet to materialize. But the doom and gloom crowd is not giving up with only 11 months left in Obama's presidency.

After telling us "just wait until Obama is elected" in 2008, after telling us "just wait until after the 2010 midterm elections," after telling us "just wait until Obama is reelected" in 2012, after telling us "just wait until after the 2014 midterm elections," we are now being told to just wait until after the November 2016 election. Who knows what evil Obama is planning for that short period between the election and his departure in January. It could still rain.

It's not like the good old days, when we could complain about President Eisenhower forcing Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. Or President Nixon postponing the sale of military aircraft to Israel. Or President Ford stopping all major arms transactions with Israel while calling for a "total reassessment" of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Or President Reagan condemning Israel's airstrike against Iraq at the U.N., suspending military aid to Israel, selling arms to Saudi Arabia over Israel's (and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's) strong objections and visiting a Nazi cemetery. Or President George H. W. Bush opposing loan guarantees to Israel and publicly declaring that he was just "one lonely little guy" up against "a thousand lobbyists on the Hill." Or President George W. Bush rescinding loan guarantees to Israel, suspending cooperation with Israel on a fighter jet, violating an agreement to maintain Israel's qualitative edge and giving Iron Dome a frosty reception.

Now we're reduced to complaining that Obama said something mean about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he thought no one was listening. That's serious stuff.  Never mind that under Obama, the United States has never turned its back on Israel at the U.N. and has a 100 percent pro-Israel voting record there. Never mind that under Obama, the United States has never threatened to withhold aid or loan guarantees, let alone actually do so. Never mind that under Obama, aid to Israel is at record levels, and that the administration has requested aid above what Congress appropriated to fund Iron Dome and other programs. Never mind that under Obama, military and intelligence cooperation between Israel and the United States is at unprecedented levels.

Instead, we are told again and again to focus on personal slights, real and imagined, that most of us learned to ignore in middle school. The haters were apoplectic when they told us that the administration didn't show enough concern about the murder of Ezra Schwartz, even though the U.S. ambassador to Israel condemned the attack almost immediately, the State Department condemned the attack the next day, and both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerrycondemned the attack and called Schwartz's family the day after his funeral, well before the end of shiva. Those pesky facts!

Can you imagine in 2008 if they had warned us that despite personal tension between Obama and Netanyahu, the U.S.-Israel relationship would remain unbreakable? They would have been right, but honesty about Democrats and Israel never won Republicans any Jewish votes.

The latest outrage is about a 20-year-old customs rule requiring accurate labeling of goods. The Department of U.S. Customs and Border Protection had the audacity to issue a reminder about it. Nothing had changed and nothing was intended to change. Yet for some reason, the critics who love to slice and dice and interpret every administration statement in the worst possible light seem to have ignored the State Department's statement that the reminder "was simply a restatement of previous requirements. There is nothing new." The case against Obama is so much easier to make if you stipulate that recorded history began on Jan. 20, 2009.

Obama's critics are nothing if not persistent. They bring to mind members of the flying saucer cult who, instead of giving up their fantasies when the flying saucers didn't arrive on schedule, simply declared that the failure of the flying saucers to land on time was proof that the spacemen were even craftier than they thought and would arrive at a more opportune time.

Well, time is running out. Obama's presidency is almost over and Israel is still on the map. Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, Israel no longer faces the existential threat of nuclear attack. The U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger than ever. It's not going to rain. At least not while Obama is president.