Benjamin Kerstein has written a fascinating essay on how Obama lost the affection of Israel. He had me from the first line:
For a politician, there is no more dangerous combination of traits than hubris and ineptitude.
He writes about Israel’s reaction to Obama’s speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009:
Taken as a whole, the speech was simply a craven embarrassment; but the references it made to Israel could not have been more alienating and insulting had they been calculated for the purpose. How Obama’s speechwriters and advisors became convinced that equating the Holocaust with the Palestinian nakba (the word means “catastrophe,” and Arabs use it to describe the establishment of Israel and its War of Independence in 1948), comparing Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to segregation in the United States, and pointing to the Jewish people’s “tragic history” as the sole justification for Israel’s existence would assuage Israeli concerns about the new administration must remain a question for history to answer. There is no doubt, however, that this single speech (which everyone in Israel watched) did more to demolish Obama’s credibility in Israeli eyes than any of his demands on Netanyahu ever could have.
Israelis come in many political colors, but very few of them believe that if the Jews had not suffered a Holocaust, they would not deserve a state. Zionism predates the Holocaust, and it holds that the Jewish people have an inalienable right to self-determination in their homeland, regardless of their historical sufferings. In claiming otherwise, Obama revealed not only a glaring ignorance of Israeli history and sensibilities, but also the depressing tendency of many American liberals to reduce everything to do with Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish people to the Holocaust…
Kerstein makes a good observation:
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the speech, however, was that Obama clearly believed he was saying things about Israel that were positive. The impression he gave was of a man who was not merely spitting in Israeli faces, but chose to do so because he thought they would like it. In a certain sense, this was even worse than a speech that was forthrightly hostile, because it implied that Obama was perfectly capable of damaging Israel out of the belief that he was actually doing it “for your own good” – a signal that the new president of the United States simply had no idea what he was doing.
That’s Obama all over, not just on Israel. He insults doctors by saying they would actually harm patients just for a few extra bucks — and therefore, Obama must seize control of medicine to help doctors for their own good. His ideas of how doctors work revealed that, as with Israel, with health care he has no idea what he is doing. He insults insurance companies, car makers, bankers, etc. His presidency is one big insult to any individual who thinks he can live without being told what to do by the state.
Obama combines condescending insults with smarmy self-righteousness. A fool is one thing, but a smug fool is unbearable.
Kerstein’s essay is worth reading in full.