Obama’s State of the Union address was laudable for some of what he said and frightening because of the things he did not quite say or said inaccurately. Obama did say outright that Israel is an “ally,” but his treatment of allies makes this definition problematic. After all, no “ally” would have shut down Ben Gurion airport, no ally would have acted insultingly to Netanyahu, calling his office and ordering him to do this or that. Still, Israel is no doubt thankful to be spoken of as such.
On the local front, traditionally the main emphasis of the State of the Union message, Obama promised all the important ideas he has promoted before: help for veterans, free community college education for everybody, health care for everybody, paid maternity and parental leave, sick pay for parents when their children are sick, universal child care, equal pay for equal work – with no explanation about where the money for these dreams is to come from.
What is missing, however, is the real “State of the Union”.
The State of the Union is endangered as never before by the global village and by immigration waves that have large populations migrating to the west without wishing to absorb its values, social media used to promote violence and lethal weapons to be had for the asking. That is, of course, an international problem, but it is very much a local one as well. Yet on the escalating danger to the Western world from radical Islam, there is only a paragraph in Obama’s speech about defeating terrorists without “American boots on the ground”, which is the short term way to make people happy, the future be damned.Obama won’t be in office by then even if it doesn’t work.
The perpetrators of the bestial deeds we have seen on the net are termed “terrorists”, but not Islamic terrorists, ISIL is mentioned without using the word “Islam”. Obama surely knows what the entire world knows – that the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks are Islamic in origin. Where is the courage of Britain’s Communities Secretary MP Eric Pickles who called just a few days ago for Muslim clerics to get to work to end Islamic violence?
Yes, Obama rejected anti- Semitism. He gave it an entire sentence: “It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world.” Four Friday shoppers, Ilan Halimi, children and their father in Toulouse are a partial list of those who were covered in that sentence, but you had to be listening carefully not to miss it, because the next one was the usual mantra about rejecting “offensive stereotypes of Muslims, the majority of whom share our commitment to peace” as if the two are on equal footing.
Jews, let us not forget, are subjected to anti-Semitism despite their loyalty and contribution to whatever country they are in – including pre WWII Germany and America today – while Islamic terrorists and those who stay silent or support them are anti-West despite the aid and support their host countries give them.
Where are the words of a leader about America symbolizing something else to those “huddled masses yearning to breath free”, a clarion call and clear warning about anti-Semitism having no place in the land of the free? That there is no excuse for radical clerics, jihad boot camps and Islamic organizations in the United States?
As for Iran, the president declared that while negotiations continue, he would veto enhanced sanctions. The Republican Jewish Coalition said it best in its Executive Director Matt Brooks’ response:
“Under President Obama Iran keeps getting more time to spin their centrifuges and get closer to a nuclear weapon. Despite pleas from Congress and the international community the President, after exhaustive negotiations to halt their program, is rewarding Iran with yet more time. Giving Iran more time puts our national security and our Middle Eastern allies security – especially Israel – at risk. The Obama administration’s Iran policy is failing. Congress needs to place enhanced sanctions on Iran to demonstrate that we are serious about halting their nuclear weapons program. The President’s veto threat will only empower and embolden Iran to continue as a threat to the entire region and world.”
And the Israel Project added: “The administration is wrong or misleading on the facts themselves. The White House claims that Iran’s nuclear program has been “frozen” and their “progress halted” during the talks — talks we were told would only last 6 months, yet are now heading toward 19 months (June 30th). Actually, Iran has enriched at least one more bomb’s worth of material, has advanced its plutonium track to 87% completion, and just announced it will build 2 more nuclear facilities.”
“The President threatened to veto bipartisan legislation against Iran from Menendez-Kirk by implying that (1) it contains sanctions on Iran at this time and (2) will guarantee diplomacy will fail. This is not the case.
“Tthe bill imposes no sanctions on Iran during talks what so ever. If there is a deal by 6/30 — a deadline the president set and says will tell us if Iran is willing to make a deal or not — there are no sanctions, making the bill basically an insurance policy.”
Veto or no veto, that may be a waste of time, as, Fomer CIA and NSA head General Mke Hayden testified before Congress that American intelligence cannot provide adequate warning of Iranian nuclear developments.
So what do we have? A traditional speech promising largesse for the masses, as if the world is as it was before Iran and ISIS, the promise of increased battle against ISIS but without “boots on the ground”, a frightening hiatus on Iran and one sentence about the growing spectre of anti- Semitism that has become increasingly threatening, even on American campuses.
This article was co-authored by Rochel Sylvetsky
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is at work on a fourth. Her latest book is An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan). Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com