The interview is republished here in part, please head on over to Inquisitr.com for the entire interview.
[Interview] Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld: Israeli Leader Discusses US Elections, Israel’s Future
Election day in the United States is a week away and the results will have far-reaching effects for the future of many nations. The Middle East is on the brink and Israelis are waiting for the election results with great concern. What do Israeli’s think about the two candidates for President of the United States? How will their lives be affected by the choice of American voters?
These are important questions and to find the answers, The Inquisitr spoke with Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a prominent Israeli leader. Dr.Gerstenfeld offers a view of the Israeli – American relationship untainted by politics as usual. He is first and foremost a scholar, who grew up in World War Two Europe, survived the horrors of the Holocaust and emigrated to Israel after the Six Day War of 1967.
He is uniquely qualified to offer a balanced opinion on the often turbulent relationship between two powerful allies who, despite their occasional feuds, share a strong mutual interest.
Dr. Gerstenfeld, you have lived in Israel for many years, you have written extensively about Jewish life and Antisemitism, and you are a member of the board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
As someone who is in touch with the pulse of Israeli life and well acquainted with the political climate, how would you describe the present relationship between Israel and the Obama Administration?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
President Obama’s administration has been supportive of Israel, after an initially hesitant period. In matters such as supplying military equipment, fighting the cyber war and broad strategic collaboration, there seems to be a common understanding between the administration and Israel. From time to time this cooperation has been praised by Israel’s senior leaders. The United States has also consistently supported Israel in the United Nations.
Regarding government actions against Iran, the Obama administration has been much more hesitant than a Romney administration is likely to be. For Israel, a very supportive role undertaken by the U.S, including militarily against Iran, can be a matter of life and death.
As far as individual action is concerned, President Obama personally intervened in the life-threatening situation of the Egyptian mob attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo in September 2011. That was an important act of personal support.
President Obama is very fond of appearing before Jewish groups and proclaiming “I have Israel’s back.”
Do you feel that President Obama has been a true friend of Israel and that he is a strong supporter of Israel?
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld:
Romney’s claim that Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus” is not justified by the facts. The international political position of the United States under President Obama has however, undoubtedly gotten much weaker, which is very bad for Israel. Part of America’s weakness may well be due to perception. In such cases, perception becomes reality to a large extent. It invites provocation by the U.S.’s enemies. One sees this clearly in the attitude of the Iranian leaders, the world’s leading supporters of terrorism.
President Obama’s Achilles’ heel is that he seems to hold a far too rosy view of the situation in the Muslim world. His speech given in Cairo in 2009 expressed apologetics and appeasement to the Muslim world, at the same time understating the major criminality within it. It was also full of omissions of major facts.
President Obama applied double standards through these omissions. He said that it was time to put a halt to Israeli settlements. He did not say “It is time for Egypt and many other Muslim states to stop anti-Semitic incitement against the Jews. This hate-mongering is also very strong in Egyptian government media. It is widely spread and was equaled only by Nazi Germany.” He did not say, “Stop the death penalty.” When he spoke about equality for women he did not say, “In many Muslim countries there are extreme cases of discrimination against women. This has to be stopped immediately.” He did not speak about the incitement against and persecution of Christians in a variety of Muslim countries. He avoided asking clearly “Why is the world of Islam far more violent than that of any other religion? What does that tell us about contemporary Islam?” Nor did he say, “We have not seen any single terror attack driven by the religious conviction of major criminals similar to 9/11 in the new century.”
Another omission was when he stated that civilization owed a debt to Al Azhar without mentioning that prominent clerics there support suicide terrorism. When he spoke about the Palestinians he said that “the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” That statement contains many fallacies. The largest part by far of the Palestinian Mandate is Jordan, which is a state with a Palestinian majority. The Palestinians were granted a second state through a United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1947. Yet it was not good enough for them and their Arab allies. They preferred to start a war to attempt to massacre the Jews in what became Israel. Until 1967, they could have publicly asked their Arab “brethren” for a second state when the Palestinian territories were controlled by Jordan and Egypt. After the Arab defeat in 1967, the Palestinians could have had their own state again, but preferred to continue their fight to eliminate Israel. While President Obama didn’t mention the suffering of Christians in Muslim lands, as far as the Palestinians were concerned, he did mention Palestinian Christians, without stating that their main suffering was caused by Palestinian Muslims.
President Obama also said things about the Muslim world in his Cairo speech which were closer to lies than to half-truths. To state that “in our times many Muslim communities have been in the forefront of innovation” does not reflect the reality of the Muslim world. Tiny Israel has won more Nobel prizes than all Muslims together, while there are about two hundred times more Muslims than Israelis.
The only field in which major innovation has emerged from parts of the Muslim world is ‘creative terrorism.’ In this framework the Palestinians have also made a substantial contribution in inventing new modes of terror. If there were a Nobel prize for terrorism, prime candidates for it would be Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and various other Palestinian groupings as well as the initiators of 9/11.
During the revolutions in various Arab countries, President Obama also came across as hesitant. He dumped a loyal ally, President Husni Mubarak. Those who replaced him in Egypt come out of a hate-mongering movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Former Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel, an expert on Arab politics said in an interview: “The rise to power in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood brings to the fore a movement in which Jew-hate is inherent. This organization was founded in 1928 in Egypt by a school teacher, Hassan Al-Banna as a Pan-Islamic Movement. It developed a Muslim version of Nazi anti-Semitism. It saw to it that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was translated into Arabic under the title ‘My Jihad.’ Other Nazi anti-Semitic publications were also translated. Cartoons found in the Nazi hate paper Der Stuermer were changed to present the Jews as the satanic enemy of Allah, rather than of the German people.”
A recently detailed investigation published by Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism found that many known radical Muslims made hundreds of visits to the Obama White House, meeting with top administration officials. That is also worrying.
In light of widespread genocidal views against Israel in the Muslim world, any sign of the United States’ weakness or appearing apologetic toward these societies are negative for Israel.
Initially there was also some concern because the Obamas’ longtime pastor in Chicago was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who is an anti-Israeli and has made anti-Semitic remarks. That unease has since disappeared.
The word “friend” is something I am reluctant to use in a political analysis. Many of President Obama’s actions have been supportive of Israel. Yet they have not had much effect among Israeli Jews due to his image of an internationally weak president, who looks away from the many crimes in the Muslim world.
It is probably due to his attitude toward highly problematic Muslims and the betrayal of long time political allies that a significant percentage of Israelis continue to feel uncomfortable with President Obama. They wonder to what extent he has genuinely abandoned the appeasing and apologetic spirit he expressed in Cairo, or whether much of it will re-appear if he is re-elected. These feelings are quite common in Israel despite the substantial support President Obama has given to Israel. A few days ago, a poll posed the question, who would be preferable as far as Israeli interests were concerned? Fifty-seven percent of Israeli Jews preferred Romney, while 22% said Obama. Among Israeli Arabs, Obama was the preferred candidate.