As of Monday morning, two days after Hamas committed horrible atrocities across Israel, the worst single attack in the country’s history, former President Barack Obama had yet to issue any statement about the attacks. There could be any number of benign reasons for that, but it’s also true that Obama’s relationship with Israel would lead one to speculate about some not-so-benign motivations.
Certainly, there are many legitimate questions to ask about the government of Israel’s behavior, the limits of America’s national interest in the region, and whether Protestant America’s fetishization of the “Holy Land” keeps us from seeing issues in the region with moral clarity. However, any fair-minded critique of Israel is a far cry from Obama’s well-established and radical views on the Middle East that stem, by his own admission, from his affinity for radicals such as Frantz Fanon, whose brain-dead swagger produced such sentiments as “decolonization reeks of red-hot cannonballs and bloody knives.”
And it’s probably time to admit that, while attempting to bury their aims under layers of academic sophistication, Obama and his acolytes used his presidency to destabilize the Middle East in the service of a left-wing ideology that excuses antisemitism and justifies terrorist violence.
In August, Tablet magazine published a much-discussed, comprehensive interview between David Samuels and Obama biographer David Garrow. The biggest headlines that emerged from that interview had to do with Garrow uncovering letters where Obama wrote in detail about his gay sex fantasies. But buried beneath that revelation was a substantial discussion of Obama’s anti-Israel politics. Or as Tablet’s David Samuels put it, “Obama’s hostility to American exceptionalism also seemed linked to his hostility to Israel, or more specifically to America’s identification with Israel.” As Samuels went on to note, the inexplicable fixation Obama had with making Iran — the world’s leading state sponsor of terror attacks, and the same country behind Hamas’ atrocities in Israel over the weekend — a regional hegemon in spite of Israeli (and Saudi) objections is ample proof of that.
But historically, it’s worth noting his animus is deeply personal, and not some misguided policy objective. In his biography, Dreams of My Father, he told a very self-serving version of how he came to break up with an early girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Jager — essentially, she rejected Obama’s “incipient embrace of Black racial consciousness” in favor of her own “white-identified liberal universalism.” However, Garrow tracked down Jager, who’s now a respected professor at Oberlin, and she told a very different version of events.
At the time they were dating, a Chicago mayoral aide named Steve Cokely, in conjunction with notorious Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan, had “accused Jewish doctors in Chicago of infecting Black babies with AIDS as part of a genocidal plot against African Americans,” and she broke up with Obama after he pointedly refused to condemn Cokely’s obvious antisemitism. (Obama would later meet up with the execrable Farrakhan when he was a senator and take a smiling photo with him; the photo was taken in 2005 and mysteriously was never released until 2018.)
Three more controversies that stem from his 2008 presidential run stand out here. First was the Jeremiah Wright controversy — Obama had long attended a church in Chicago where the pastor, the aforementioned Wright, had said a lot of controversial left-wing things from the pulpit, including that America invited the attacks of 9/11 on itself, and he dabbled in antisemitism. The controversy forced Obama to distance himself from Wright, and a few months after Obama was elected, Wright blamed “them Jews” for keeping him from Obama. After years of exposure to Wright’s incendiary rhetoric, the idea Obama didn’t realize he was antisemitic until he ran for president is preposterous.
Then there was the issue of Obama’s friendship with Rashid Khalidi, who is now a professor at Columbia University, though he formerly worked at the University of Chicago with the future president. Khalidi is cited in press reports as a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) terror group in the early ’80s, though Khalidi claims this characterization is inaccurate. It’s undeniable, however, that Khalidi has made numerous controversial remarks over the years justifying Palestinian violence.
Eventually, as Obama’s 2008 campaign was heating up, The Los Angeles Times wrote a story headlined “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama,” noting Obama’s especially close and warm relationship with Khalidi. The Los Angeles Times had a videotape of Obama speaking at an event honoring Khalidi where many of the speakers attacked Israel. However, despite calls to release the video of the event with Khalidi, the Times never released the video publicly, noting that “Obama publicly expresses a pro-Israel viewpoint that pleases many Jewish leaders.” Obama’s track record would certainly put that disingenuous assumption to the test.
Finally, there was Obama’s embrace of Robert Malley. In December of 2007, the Obama campaign put out a press release listing Malley as a campaign adviser. Malley had previously worked on Middle East issues for the Clinton administration, though he was not well-liked by the Jewish community because his father, journalist Simon Malley, was a friend and sympathizer of Yasser Arafat, the head of the PLO terror group. Robert Malley himself had also written a series of essays for the New York Review of Books on Middle East issues that led prominent Jewish commentator and the former owner of The New Republic, Marty Peretz, to call him “a rabid hater of Israel. No question about it.”
After the backlash to Malley, the Obama campaign issued a statement saying Malley was not officially on the campaign and he was only providing “informal advice.” Despite supposedly not working on the Obama campaign, in May the Times of London reported that Malley had been ejected from the campaign’s Middle East advisory group after they learned he had meetings with Hamas. After supposedly being sacked from the campaign twice, shortly after Obama was elected it was revealed Malley had been dispatched to “Egypt and Syria over the last few weeks to outline the Democratic candidate’s policy on the Middle East.”
I confess I hadn’t thought much about Malley in the last 15 years, other than to assume he was up to no good. This summer I learned he was the Biden administration’s special envoy to Iran and that he had been fired once again, and this time it was serious enough that he lost his security clearance and was being accused of mishandling classified info. Only in the past few weeks have the real facts come into sharper relief: “Robert Malley helped to fund, support, and direct an Iranian intelligence operation designed to influence the United States and allied governments, according to a trove of purloined Iranian government emails.”
Iran, of course, was actively involved in funding and coordinating Hamas’ atrocities this past weekend. At the same time this was all being planned, the apparently traitorous Malley was working on Iran issues in an administration that made the questionable decision to give Iran billions of dollars in a desperate attempt to jumpstart Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.
Indeed, many have observed that Iran’s role in the attack seems motivated by a desire to force Israel to aggressively defend itself. A violent response from Israel would then be exploited to drive a wedge between Israel and the Sunni gulf states that had engaged in reproachment under the successful Abraham Accords of the Trump administration. That the Biden administration, which is essentially functioning as Obama’s third term and involves many of the same personnel, also had the same goal of blowing up the Abraham Accords to focus on empowering Iran as the regional hegemon, threatening Israel, is not a coincidence.
Speaking of coincidences, did I mention that America’s feckless secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is an old high school pal of Robert Malley? On Sunday, Blinken tweeted out that he was pushing a “ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas before deleting it. The idea that Iran would be behind the most successful attack on Israel in history and the U.S. would be against Israel fighting back… weird how everything keeps breaking Tehran’s way, huh?
Indeed, Obama is hardly the only tenured radical in our political establishment that shares these radical left-wing foreign policy views, a toxic combination of self-righteousness and self-loathing, that views our national interests and America’s relationship with Israel as inherently suspicious.
“The sheer amount of political capital and focus Obama put into achieving the [Iran nuclear deal] during his second term, to the near-exclusion of other goals, suggests that the deal was central to his politics. It also carries more than a whiff of the kind of politics in which the American Empire is seen not just as unexceptional, but also, in some ways, as actively evil,” observed Samuels. “It was a politics born out of the confluence of the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, which saw a racist war abroad being used to protect a racist power structure at home. That old alliance of civil rights, anti-imperialism, and identity politics made the Democratic Party that Obama positioned himself to lead — college-educated, corporate-controlled — seem cool, allowing it to use post-1960s radical ideology as a language to sell stuff.”
I hardly believe Obama is such a monster he secretly roots for atrocities in Israel, even if it seems he’s never met an antisemite he would willingly disown. Regardless, there’s no doubt that these horrifying nationwide terror attacks in Israel are Obama’s legacy, a result of his arrogant anti-American ideology put into practice. But after the weekend, even Democratic partisans are scrambling to distance themselves from the Biden and Obama administrations’ ill-advised cozying up to Iran. Now we need to follow through and make sure the Obama-Biden foreign policy legacy, and the dangerous ideology that motivated it, is rejected and held up for the failure that it is.