Former President Barack Obama’s new book about his eight years in the White House is a “revisionist” account of Israel’s history that proves he is “anti-Israel,” a former Knesset member said.
Writing in the JNS wire, Dov Lipman, a dual American-Israeli citizen, charges A Promised Land of being “filled with historical inaccuracies.”
“It is terribly disappointing. I surely would have expected truth, accuracy and fairness from Barack Obama, America’s 44th president. But the falsehoods and inaccuracies in this memoir only feed the theory that Obama was, in fact, anti-Israel. Now, through A Promised Land, he seeks to convince others to join him,” Lipman writes.
The memoir also details Obama’s tumultuous relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, painting a harsh picture of the Israeli premier, whom he accuses of seeing himself as “chief defender” of Jews around the world to justify political machinations.
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The Jewish Insider, which reviewed an early copy of the book, noted that Obama describes Netanyahu as “smart, canny, tough and a gifted communicator” who could be “charming, or at least solicitous” if he believed it would benefit him.
Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power,” Obama writes.
He wonders if things would’ve been different if someone else had been prime minister of Israel.
Obama also laments about the attitude of the pro-Israel American Public Affairs Committee in Israel (AIPAC) lobby, which questioned his policy regarding Israel.
Politicians who “criticized Israel policy too loudly risked being tagged as ‘anti-Israel’ (and possibly anti-Semitic) and [were] confronted with a well-funded opponent in the next election,” he writes.
He goes on to complain he was “on the receiving end” of a “whisper campaign” that saw him as being “insufficiently supportive — or even hostile toward — Israel” during his 2008 presidential run. “On Election Day, I’d end up getting more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote, but as far as many AIPAC board members were concerned, I remained suspect, a man of divided loyalties; someone whose support for Israel, as one of [David Axelrod’s] friends colorfully put it, wasn’t ‘felt in his kishkes’ — ‘guts,’ in Yiddish.”
Writing in JNS, Lipman says Obama’s “telling of Israel’s story… not only exhibits a flawed understanding of the region—which clearly impacted his policies as president—but misleads readers in a way that will forever shape their negative perspective of the Jewish state.”
“Obama relates, for example, how the British were “occupying Palestine” when they issued the Balfour Declaration calling for a Jewish state. But labeling Great Britain as an “occupier” clearly casts doubt on its legitimacy to determine anything about the future of the Holy Land, and that wasn’t the situation,” Lipman opines, noting that the UN’s precursor, the League of Nations, gave the British legal rights over Palestine in its 1922 “Mandate for Palestine,” earmarking Palestinian as “a national home for the Jewish people.”
The League further recognized “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.”
Obama omits this fact and also fails to mention 2,000 years of continued Jewish presence in the land. Furthermore, as Lipman points out, he makes it sound like European Jews suddenly started flocking there after Britain illegally began the process of forming a Jewish state when in fact Jews had already begun moving to Palestine in large numbers decades earlier.
“Historical context is important, and once Obama chose to write about the history, he should have provided the full context and portrayed the Jews as they were: a persecuted and desperate people searching for safety, and not, as he implies, strong conquerors flooding into Palestine,” Lipman writes.
Obama also failed to acknowledge that the Arabs attacked the Jews before there even was a State of Israel, a piece of context that Lipman asserts is crucial to understanding the Israeli-Arab conflict. Obama, in two sentences, sums up the state’s founding by saying “the two sides quickly fell into war.”
“Wow. I don’t even know where to begin. The two sides didn’t “fall into war” when Britain withdrew; the two sides had been fighting for decades, with the Arabs—who rejected more than half-a-century of efforts to establish a Jewish state in the region—attacking the Jews, and the Jews defending themselves,” he writes.
Lipman further lambasts the former president’s use of the term “Zionist leaders” as opposed to “Jewish leaders,” which he says “plays into the current international climate, in which it is politically correct to be ‘anti-Zionist,’ while unacceptable to be anti-Jewish.”
Lipman goes on to describe what he views as the most “disingenuous sentence of Obama’s history of Israel.”
In his description of what happened during the 30 years following Israel’s establishment [Obama writes]: “For the next three decades, Israel would engage in a succession of conflicts with its Arab neighbors … .”
What? I had to read that sentence many times because I could not believe that a president of the United States could write such misleading, deceptive and damaging words about his country’s close ally.
Israel did not “engage” in any conflict with the surrounding Arab countries. The Arab armies and their terrorists attacked Israel again and again, and Israelis fought to defend themselves.
A straightforward history of Middle East wars involving Israel yields this basic truth. Facts are facts, and the former president’s misrepresentation of Israel as a country that sought conflict instead of peace—one that willingly engaged in wars with the Arabs—does an injustice to peace-seeking Israel and riles up anti-Israel sentiment.
The inaccuracies and omissions continue right up to the present-day, Lipman notes, pointing out that Obama even finds a way to blame Israel for the Second Intifada in which 1,137 Israeli civilians were murdered and 8,341 were wounded by Palestinian suicide bombers.