The Washington Post trod over some familiar territory this past weekend with a 7,000-word retrospective on the Obama administration’s Middle East peace process misadventures. The account strives to put President Obama in a favorable light. But even the most sympathetic narrative of this period must come to grips with the president’s blundering, most of which was rooted in his determination to distance the United States from Israel in a vain attempt to score points with the Arab world. For the first three years of his presidency, Washington was focused on pressuring Israel, a policy that alienated the Jewish state but did nothing to nudge the Palestinians to make peace.
The Post’s lengthy rehashing of the president’s Middle East follies is part of the paper’s series of pieces evaluating the history of the last four years. It is worthwhile for the way it places in perspective the administration’s election-year Jewish charm offensive that has walked back some of the previous stands. It also makes clear that while President Obama deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the way he made a bad situation worse, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also ought to be held accountable for her role in the ongoing debacle. That’s a not unimportant point considering that Clinton is in Israel this week as part of an attempt on Obama’s part to smooth over relations.
Though the president’s surrogates continue to try to portray him as Israel’s best friend ever to sit in the White House, the Post provides a reminder for those who care to remember the truth that he arrived in office determined to put an end to the closeness between Israel and the United States that had developed during the Bush administration.
The Post describes a meeting with American Jewish leaders that took place in the wake of the June 2009 president’s speech to the Muslim world and his snub of Israel during his visit to the Middle East:
“If you want Israel to take risks, then its leaders must know that the United States is right next to them,