December 26th, 2016

Obama and the UN vote on Israel: Part I, backlash

As I wrote on Saturday, Obama’s decision that the US should abstain in the UN and allow a vote against Israel on measures very similar (and even worse) than those he had vetoed in the past was possible—and to him, desirable—because he no longer has to answer to the American voter. All their voting is done, as far as he’s concerned: his own election and re-election as president, and then the defeat of his designated successor, Hillary Clinton, who will not be carrying on his legacy.

So he’s free now to gum up the works as much as he wants.

And free now to stick it to Donald Trump, his actual rather than his preferred successor. But that hardly would seem to be his primary motivation; he’s also interested in punishing Israel and Netanyahu. This action does it all.

And Obama probably has a few more tricks up his sleeve before January 20, although some of them may involve topics other than Israel. Something about Guantanamo, perhaps, one of the pieces of unfinished business of his presidency?

But Obama may discover something about the law of unintended consequences. There has been a backlash of outrage to his move, and some of it has come from a group of Republicans and Democrats who don’t often agree on all that much. Among the Republicans, this backlash has taken a particular form that is somewhat more extreme than usual: the desire to withdraw US financial support of the UN, which is crucial to its activities.

I doubt Obama intended that result, and I’d wager he didn’t expect that unified a reaction either. He is used to a more powerless GOP in Congress, either because Republicans didn’t control the Senate (they only regained it in 2015, and even then there was the filibuster), or because Obama and the GOP knew he’d be vetoing anything the Republicans tried to pass that he didn’t like.

Now things are about to be different in terms of who holds power in Washington. And people as disparate as Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Ted Cruz are all supporting a move to cut funds to the UN. No Democrats have joined that call yet (and I doubt any will actually go that far). But many of them certainly don’t seem happy about what Obama did in the UN:

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said it was “extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding” that the Obama administration failed to veto the UN’s vote.

Schumer called out the UN as a “fervently” anti-Israel body…

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called the US’s abstention from the vote “unconscionable.”

“A two-state solution must be negotiated directly between the Israelis and Palestinians”…

He also said support for Israel must remain “bipartisan,”…

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said that he was “deeply disappointed” that the Obama administration allowed such a “one-sided” resolution to pass…

And Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia said “one-sided resolutions” at the UN are counterproductive to the peace process and “achieving a two-state solution.”

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat from New York and the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was “very disappointed” by the US’s “acquiescence to a one-sided, biased resolution at the United Nations Security Council.”

Lindsay Graham also is quoted in that article as saying he’s going to work to make the move to stop or greatly reduce UN funding bipartisan. It will be very interesting to see where that may go.

So, what about this UN resolution are they all riled up about? Charles Krauthammer explains what was different about this UN vote:

To give you an idea of how appalling this resolution is, it declares that any Jew who lives in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, the Jewish quarter, inhabited for 1,000 years, is illegal, breaking international law, essentially an outlaw, can be hauled into the international criminal court and international courts in Europe, which is one of the consequences. The Jewish quarter has been populated by Jews for 1,000 years. In the war of Independence in 1948, the Arabs invaded Israel to wipe it out. They did not succeed, but the Arab Legion succeeded in conquering the Jewish quarter. They expelled all the Jews. They destroyed all the synagogues and all the homes. For 19 years, no Jew could go there. The Israelis got it back in the Six-Day War. Now it’s declared that this is not Jewish territory.

You can’t quite call the following a backlash to the UN vote, because it preceded it. But Donald Trump is on record as saying that he plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Here are some of the reactions from opponents:

Those who’ve worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations say that moving the embassy would effectively kill the peace process.

“It would essentially validate the view that all of Jerusalem now belongs to Israel,” said Aaron David Miller, a former peace negotiator and scholar at the Wilson Center.

But here’s my question for Miller: what peace process?

There is no peace process. It was revealed to be a farce when Arafat walked out of it in 2000 after being offered just about everything, and the Second Intifada was begun. The “peace process” was once the hope of Israelis, but by now even many of the leftists in Israel who used to support it have reluctantly concluded that they have no “partner” for peace.

The idea of the embassy move to Jerusalem is not a new one, either; for example, George W. Bush promised as much during his campaign. But something intervened:

After 9/11, the Bush administration’s concern was that moving the embassy would antagonize Arab countries whose support it needed in the War on Terror.”

I wonder whether it still matters to them. It seems to me that the main reason some countries in that area still support US efforts in the War on Terror (which is no longer called that) is that such support is in their own self-interest, since they are internally threatened by terrorists, too. Therefore, they might continue to support our efforts, under the table, even after a US embassy move to Jerusalem.

As for Obama:

Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Obama never promised to move the embassy.

“It was not something that was seriously considered in the context of what the Obama administration was trying to do,” said James Cunningham, the ambassador to Israel from 2008 to 2011.

Now we know even more about what the Obama administration has been trying to do.

Here’s another opinion on the effect of the proposed move (from the man who was ambassador to Israel under George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton):

“Such a move would fuel the radical jihadists. It would give them a new cause to gain adherents,” Djerejian said.

Ah, but what doesn’t “fuel the radical jihadists”? Concessions fuel them, defiance fuels them—it seems as though everything fuels them.

Another opinion here:

“Given how important the issue of Jerusalem is for Muslims around the world, and especially at a time when Islamist terrorist groups systematically exploit the Palestine issue, this will also constitute a potentially explosive provocation,” said Rashid Khalidi, director of Columbia University’s Middle East Institute.

Did you hear a faint bell ringing in the background when you read the name “Rashid Khalidi”? You should have, because Khalidi was the subject of the famous but never-revealed 2003 video of Obama at a function honoring him, a video that the LA Times had possession of but refused to release.

And Khalidi and Obama will be the subject of Part II, coming soon.

[ADDENDUM: Also see this, by Charles Hill [emphasis mine]:

The first thing Obama did when entering office was to derail all hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by declaring all settlements to be illegal. Now the last thing (if only…) he’s done is to enshrine that anti-Israel position into international law in language that can be followed up with sanctions to delegitimize Israel’s existence itself. From anti-settlement to anti-Zionism to anti-Israel to anti-Semitic is the logic chain at work here.

That’s the significance of the resolution—it can be used as a springboard around which to rally the international community to further boycott and punish Israel.

And Alan Dershowitz weighs in here.]

30 Responses to “Obama and the UN vote on Israel: Part I, backlash”

  1. Nitpicky Bully Says:

    I assume you mean George H. W. Bush.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Living up to your name, I see 🙂 . Thanks, will fix.

  3. F Says:

    As you point out, Neo, everything fuels the radical jihadists. That being the case, it is indeed time to “reset the clock”. And that reset should be as big a reset a possible, because there will be an outpouring of condemnation from Americans and American allies alike. There will be no opportunity for a second reset later.

    So yes, move the embassy to Jerusalem, begin the process of defunding the UN, break off all negotiations with Palestinians — go whole hog. We can ratchet back later if we get any concessions, but we need to be prepared for no concessions, which means no ratcheting back.

    Remember we (along with UK and Singapore) withdrew from UNESCO in the 1980s because we said they were poorly managed and acting as a propaganda arm for the Soviets. We rejoined after the fall of the Berlin wall, but only because we were satisfied UNESCO was being better managed.

    We have similar leverage now — begin to withdraw from the entire organization by announcing our intention to do so and cutting our budget support by at least 50%. We can continue emergency humanitarian support as required in major emergencies, but it really is time to let them know we will not tolerate their high craziness quotient, well documented in their anti-Israel resolutions.

  4. Obama and Israel UN Vote | IowaDawg's Very Own Blawg Says:

    […] neo-neocon […]

  5. Sam L. Says:

    Obama’s legacy: A Republican President, Senate, and Congress, and a whole lot of people who despise the Democrat Party.

  6. Ann Says:

    This John Podhoretz tweet on the resolution is very depressing, but strikes me as being on the mark: “This is the end of Act I, not the end of the play, of Barack Obama’s open enmity toward Israel. He’s 55 years old. He has decades to go.”

    And a later tweet expands the point: “Don’t think [Jimmy] Carter’s relentless delegitimation effort hasn’t paid dividends over the last 35 years. It has.”

  7. Tuvea Says:

    J Street is precious. Since 62% of American Jews think it’s a good idea, well, it ought to be done.

    I always thought that American Christians also had a say in our policies with respect to the Holy Land. The birthplace of the Christian Savior.

    Silly me I suppose.

    I would humbly suggest that more than 62% of us don’t think rewarding abhorrent behavior by the Palestinians is a particularly good idea.

  8. Richard Saunders Says:

    I wonder if Obama would have abstained had the resolution had its correct wording: “The Security Council condemns Israel for refusing to cooperate in rendering the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria Judenrein.”

  9. Ann Says:

    Israel is claiming Obama did much more than simply abstain — in The Times of Israel today, “Israeli ambassador: We’ll give Trump proof Obama drove UN vote”:

    Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Netanyahu’s spokesman David Keyes said Arab sources, among others, had informed Jerusalem of President Barack Obama’s alleged involvement in advancing the resolution.

    “We have ironclad information, frankly, that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it, from sources internationally and sources in the Arab world,” Keyes told the US media outlet. …

    Confirming claims made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman a day earlier, Dermer said Israel has proof the White House drove the resolution, and will “present this evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels.”

    And Israel sees the potential for even more ahead:

    Netanyahu is now actively reaching out to the incoming Trump administration, which takes office on January 20, and to friends in Congress, in the hope of “deterring” what he sees as further potential Obama administration-led diplomatic action against Israel, a report by Channel 2 said Sunday. His aim is reportedly for the Trump team to make plain that his administration will “economically hurt” those countries that voted against Israel in the UN and that do so in the future.

    Netanyahu’s fear is that Secretary of State John Kerry will set out principles or parameters for a Palestinian state in a speech that he has said he will deliver in the next few days on his Middle East vision. The prime minister fears that, in its final days, the Obama administration will seek to have a resolution enshrining those parameters adopted by the UN Security Council, the report said.

  10. miklos000rosza Says:

    Kerry will go down in history as one of the all-time weasels in American politics.

  11. blert Says:

    The suppressed video must surely show that Barry Soetoro is fluent in Arabic, as is his want to perform in front of Arabic speaking audiences.

    The problem with the old tape is that Barry demonstrated WAY too much fluency for comfort — plus his odes to Kalidi and Said — guaranteed to be apart of any ‘pro-Palestinian’ stump speach.

    Lest we all forget, Barry spent many weeks, in 2007, stumping in Kenya — for SHARIAH.

    Yes, that was the heart of the Muslim’s campaign.

    When the Muslim candidate lost, a pogrom against the kafir was unleashed — by Barry’s buddy-candidate. All of this was suppressed by the MSM.

    Within months, Barry had thrown his hat into the ring.

  12. blert Says:

    Fix my italics, please.

  13. parker Says:

    The kiss the ass of the arabs by the left of the West reve!s them as Stalinists. From flyover country my message is simple. If you are a member of the LBGTQUKOLMMSPED or a ‘feminist’ white member of the Ivy League baby killers, you have soiled your diapers over safe places, trigger warnings, snowflake support,. and the rest of your BS. Cry real tears and drown.

  14. charles Says:

    “kill the peace process” – Yea, everything Israel does is said by others to do that.

    But, killing Israelis doesn’t? Firing rockets into Israeli residential areas doesn’t kill the “peace” process? Threatening to “wipe Israel off the map” doesn’t kill the “peace” process. Paying families of Islamic suicide bombers doesn’t kill the “peace” process?

    I believe the “peace” process is simply another way for Islamic/Arab fanatics to have Israel do a unilateral cease fire while the fanatics build up their weapons/strength. Nothing more.

    The heck with it all – Israel could cease to exist tomorrow and the Islamic fanatics would simply find another reason to go around killing.

    With Israel gone, there would be no more Jews to be used as their excuse; so, they would go after the remaining Christians in the area, then after the Christians are all gone, they would go after the “not proper” Muslims.

  15. Esther Says:

    If a person casually spits “Netanyahu” at a social gathering, that is a handy virtue signal they are likely to combust on the subject of Israel.

  16. CV Says:

    More from Krauthammer, on the issue of the settlements and the pernicious inclusion of the Western Wall of Jerusalem in the UN resolution, here:

  17. Tim P Says:


    Truly, Obama’s actions allow his true colors to show. As if anyone didn’t already know. But also remember that Hillary was no friend of Israel either. Neither is the democrat party. Never has been, but especially not today.

    However as bad as this is for Israel, I have to wonder if there will be any domestic political fall out. Almost all of the Jewish people I know vote solidly, and I mean solidly democrat. By today’s lexicon, democrat means leftist.

    I wonder if their eyes have been opened to the true attitude of the left. It has been evident to myself and many others for a long time that leftist politics and antisemitism go hand in hand.

    I have to wonder if this will be the act by the democrats towards Israel, and towards Jewish Americans who have supported Israel AND democrats lo these many years, which will finally make them realize that the democrats are not their friends.

    I wonder if there will be any further political fall out domestically as many Jewish democrats realize the depth of the hatred towards Israel and Jews (oh, but the left call it Zionism and Zionists, a political dog whistle if ever one existed) shown by this betrayal.

    I’d be interested on your opinion on any potential domestic political repercussions.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Tim P:

    I don’t think it will matter much to most Jews on the Democratic side.

    I don’t know, of course. But my guess that it won’t matter much is based on the following:

    (1) A mind, and a political affiliation, is a difficult thing to change. Jewish Democrats are Democrats because of much more than Israel, and it would take much more than a change in policy on Israel to change their politics.

    (2) Most of those Jews (at least, the ones I know) are secular Jews who don’t care much about Israel. In particular, they think the settlements are wrong.

    (3) And since this UN resolution has been described to those who are just reading the headlines, or the first few paragraphs, or listening to the left discuss it, as being against the settlements (the more pernicious stuff in there is easily skipped), I doubt they’ll care at all. They may even applaud it.

    (4) It’s easy for Jewish Democrats to say this was just Obama, not the Democrats in general. A lot of Democratic politicians have disagreed with Obama on it.

  19. Esther Says:

    No doubt I am an outlier, though I am practically a stereotype of the Jewish, liberal, New York, artsy, female Democratic demographic. It was the Progressive attacks on Israel beginning 8 years ago that opened my eyes and changed my political beliefs, gradually, one by one.

    It must be a look too. A few days ago I actually got into a political discussion where I merely defended the rationale Trump voters. The guy I was talking to kept saying in disbelief, “but, but, you look like Rachel Maddow, how can you say what you’re saying?”

    Who are they polling though, when they somehow know how Jews vote? No one ever polled me.

  20. neo-neocon Says:


    Everyone assumes I’m a liberal when they look at me, too.

    I look either Italian or Greek or Jewish, so I’m not sure why they assume it (I know quite a few conservative Italians). But they absolutely do.

  21. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I wouldn’t wish on you the kind of work our hostess did when explaining how she came over to the dark side. And referring to progressives and Israel is a good indicator of the primary impulse.
    Do you have any idea of why you were liberal in the first place? Was it family? School friends? What did you do with information which contradicted The Narrative?
    It’s said that conservatives think liberals are ignorant and liberals think conservatives are evil. Do you recall thinking anything like that?

  22. Steve Brown Says:

    neo, I’m here because of American Digest. Good job.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    Welcome, Steve!

  24. Esther Says:


    Aren’t people’s politics usually whatever their parents were? My parents voted for Reagan, and they were conservative people, but no question we were democrats.

    I was liberal because I am, at least in the literal sense of being open minded and curious. Possibly too curious?

    A few years ago, I thought all the things you mentioned. It seemed to me, my own my own mind was closed and it had a staticky, blind spot about politics. That bugged me and it was interesting. So I went in and confronted my own beliefs.

    At first it made me wildly angry, felt icky and uncomfortable, but it kept bugging me and kept being interesting, so I kept going.

    Which is not to say I’m right, or have found any great truth or the meaning of life, it was just bugging the hell out of me.

    The downside is that now I know very few people I can talk to honestly about politics. For some reason, most people aren’t as eager to wade in and make themselves a little sick poking around in their own heads.

  25. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Thanks for the insight.
    I am interested in your point that being open minded and curious makes/made you a liberal.
    The implication is that conservatives are not open minded and curious.

  26. neo-neocon Says:



    This part of your comment is one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of why a mind is a difficult thing to change: “For some reason, most people aren’t as eager to wade in and make themselves a little sick poking around in their own heads.”

    For some reason, I found it “interesting” (as you remarked about yourself) to do so.

  27. Esther Says:

    Richard, no offense intended, I was thinking of a dictionary definition of liberal, as in:
    (of education) concerned mainly with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training.
    synonyms: wide-ranging, broad-based, general
    “a liberal education”

    And being too curious, as in the old joke, so open minded my brains might fall out.

    I think currently conservatives are actually more curious, thoughtful and intellectual than liberals, who seem to be busy squashing intellectual diversity and disregarding history because progress. Liberals don’t like liberal education anymore, though conservatives do.

  28. Tim P Says:


    I appreciate your response, and Esther’s.
    Of the several Jewish men & women I have worked with over the years and have known, all have been staunch democrats and to varying degrees more or less hard left.

    When in political discussions, I have always asked how they could support leftist positions knowing that the left in this country and even more so in Europe is antisemitic.

    The responses I have heard seem to echo what you said above. I have also heard from one fellow that his dad was a staunch ‘new deal’ democrat and thought FDR was our greatest president. He was of the same opinions.

    When I pointed out that FDR was no friend of the Jews. (Examples here and here.) The cognitive dissonance was almost palpable. I was told that I was mistaken and that this was a fabrication by republicans to tarnish FDR’s legacy.

    OK, one could possibly argue that position, however tenuous the arguments may be. But when I see what is going on, on campuses across the country today. When I see what is happening in Europe, especially France, I truly wonder what does it take to realize that perhaps those beliefs are misplaced?

    While many Jews in America may be secular and do not necessarily support Israel or its settlements, rest assured that the policies pursued by this administration and many governments in Europe are hostile to Israel and are setting the stage for the eventual total isolation and fall of Israel.

    Should that misfortune occur, I suspect there will be a massive killing spree, the likes of which haven’t been seen since WWII and more recently the ‘ethnic cleansing’ in what was once Yugoslavia. Don’t think so? Ask the Copts, Yazidis, or Jews in islamic countries in the Mid-east.

    I also suspect that the European countries would all of a sudden begin mouthing off about ‘sanctity of borders’, the inability to assimilate such great numbers of refugees, and all of the other mumbled excuses we heard in the not too distant past.

    I do not mean to single out Jews here. It simply seems that Obama’s treachery to one of America’s staunchest allies is especially egregious. I’m not Jewish and I find what he did disgusting, cowardly, and simply immature.

    Once again, the Jews are the canaries in the coal mine.

    Looking at what is happening in much of Europe and the disastrous results to European culture stemming from the uncontrolled migration of hostile cultures which are refusing to assimilate or even show tolerance, for the culture and values of the hosts, I see the same denial of the obvious and refusal to act in the face of clear danger in others as well.

    To a lesser degree we see it happening here also. Uncontrolled immigration, race baiting, refusal of a substantial portion of the population to accept the results of a free and fair election and acting downright delusional about the results of that election.

    Many here too refuse to see what is going on. Perhaps it is the result of western culture having become effeminate. I do not use that word in the sexual context but in its older meaning, marked by an unbecoming delicacy or over refinement. The unwillingness to forego material comfort to undertake the actions necessary to perpetuate the culture or what the culture used to believe was right.

    If so, I fear for us all.

  29. JohnTyler Says:

    Well after this Obama, democratic party pushed UN anti Israel resolution, only 89.9% of jewish voters will vote democratic instead of the usual 90%.

    If you sleep with the devil, the devil will have his due.

  30. neo-neocon Says:


    You are confusing the Jewish vote with the black vote. Jews don’t vote Democratic in those numbers, although a large majority certainly vote Democratic.

    If you look it up, you’ll see that the Jewish vote went 78/22 for Obama in 2008 and dropped to 69/30 for Obama in 2012. A significant reduction, and far below the figures you mention. In recent decades the Jewish Democratic vote has varied between being in the 70s and 60s. It actually was higher at certain times for Democrats in the past; for example, during the 60s and the FDR years it reached the sort of levels you mention.

    But not recently. And on several sites where I looked up the results from the 2016 election, this year was very similar to 2012, with Jews voting right around 70% for Clinton.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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