Israel shocked by Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak

Leave it to Israel to show its contempt for the wishes of Arab people. President Obama has bent over backwards to avoid taking sides on the unrest in Egypt, but this is not enough for Israel; there he is being accused of betraying Hosni Mubarak, because Obama has not given him the unequivocal support Israel feels he deserves. Obama and European leaders are being accused of willingness to dump Mubarak for the sake of political correctness! Ah, is that what respect for the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights means to Israelis, mere naive political correctness? After all Israel has done to show its scorn for international law and the rights of Palestinians, nobody should be surprised. This story is from Reuters

Israel shocked by Obama’s “betrayal” of Mubarak
By Douglas Hamilton

JERUSALEM | Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:54pm EST

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – If Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday.

Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel’s President Shimon Peres is not a minister.

“We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak,” he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. “I don’t say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East.”

Newspaper columnists were far more blunt.

One comment by Aviad Pohoryles in the daily Maariv was entitled “A Bullet in the Back from Uncle Sam.” It accused Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naive, smug, and insular diplomacy heedless of the risks.

Who is advising them, he asked, “to fuel the mob raging in the streets of Egypt and to demand the head of the person who five minutes ago was the bold ally of the president … an almost lone voice of sanity in a Middle East?”

“The politically correct diplomacy of American presidents throughout the generations … is painfully naive.”

Obama on Sunday called for an “orderly transition” to democracy in Egypt, stopping short of calling on Mubarak to step down, but signaling that his days may be numbered.

“AMERICA HAS LOST IT”

Netanyahu instructed Israeli ambassadors in a dozen key capitals over the weekend to impress on host governments that Egypt’s stability is paramount, official sources said.

“Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the reactions in the West, how everyone is abandoning Mubarak, and this will have very serious implications,” Haaretz daily quoted one official as saying.

“The question is, do we think Obama is reliable or not,” said an Israeli official, who declined to be named.

“Right now it doesn’t look so. That is a question resonating across the region not just in Israel.”

Writing in Haaretz, Ari Shavit said Obama had betrayed “a moderate Egyptian president who remained loyal to the United States, promoted stability and encouraged moderation.”

To win popular Arab opinion, Obama was risking America’s status as a superpower and reliable ally.

“Throughout Asia, Africa and South America, leaders are now looking at what is going on between Washington and Cairo. Everyone grasps the message: “America’s word is worthless … America has lost it.”

Are Israeli leaders actually so blind as to be unable to see the consequences of supporting this brutal tyrant when it is only a matter of time before he is forced from power? Obama does not want to be on the wrong side of history. If he opposes the uprising as Israel and other tyrants in the region think he should, whoever takes power in Egypt will have all the more reason to believe USA has no respect for democracy, human rights, or international law, when its financial or military interests are at risk. Israel may have no problem taking this stand, because they know there is no love lost between the average Arab and Israel, whereas Mubarak has been their best ally in the region. It may seem to Israelis that this is just a matter of practical politics, an ally is an ally no matter how the people are repressed. For far too long, USA has taken the same attitude, supporting brutal regimes all over the world because they facilitated US financial and military interests.

I think Obama is squandering a great opportunity to show that he does support the democratic aspirations of all people, as he said in his State of the Union speech last week. He is trying to walk a tightrope, which pleases nobody and looks more like cowardice than a principled stand. Israel has made it quite clear they do not care about the rights of Egyptians, demeaning the protestors as a raging mob, because they fear what will happen when Mubarak loses power, and wish to prevent that at any cost. As is standard with Israeli policy, this attitude of insular paranoia will backfire on them, big time. In the eyes of Israel, America has lost it, its word is worthless because Obama has realized Mubarak has gone too far, has lost his credibility, and has no chance of riding out these protests, especially since the real power in Egypt, the Army, is exhibiting signs of torn loyalty and has ruled out using any more force against the protestors. Who is being naive here? What would Israel have USA do to show it is a reliable ally? Obama is naive to think he can straddle the fence, but not naive enough to think he can help Mubarak stay in power! To abandon a sinking ship is not a sign of naivete or political correctness. I just wish Obama had the nerve to take a firm stand in support of the protestors, and tell Mubarak straight out he has gone too far and must step down, or at least go to the United Nations and sponsor a resolution declaring Mubarak in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

Robert Fisk interviewed Mohamed ElBaradei for the Independent, published today. He issued a harsh warning to Mubarak.

ElBaradei is surprisingly mild when he speaks of Mubarak the man. He last saw him two years ago. “I would go to see him when I returned from a UN mission or a holiday. I always received a friendly reception. It was a very cordial relationship. It was one-to-one, just us, and there was no formality. I would tell him what I thought of this or that problem, what might be done. He doesn’t really have advisers who have the guts to tell him the truth.”

Much good did ElBaradei’s advice do. He is outraged by the arson and looting. When I ask if state security policemen were behind the arson – which is used by Mubarak, Obama and Clinton to “tag” those who demand Mubarak’s departure with violence – the mouse shows its teeth. “They (the police) were, we are now hearing about documents which show that some of these uniformed officers have taken off their uniforms and gone about looting. And everybody says that they have been ordered to do this by the regime or the ministry of interior or whatever. And if this is true, then this is the most sinister of criminal acts. We have to verify this. But for sure, many of these bands of thugs and looters are from part of the secret police.”

And then suddenly, in that high voice, eyes glittering behind pebbling spectacles, the mouse becomes a tiger. “When a regime withdraws the police entirely from the streets of Cairo, when thugs are part of the secret police, trying to give the impression that without Mubarak the country will go into chaos, this is a criminal act. Somebody has to be accountable. And now, as you can hear in the streets, people are not saying Mubarak should go, they are now saying he should be put on trial. If he wants to save his skin, he better leave.”

And Israel thinks USA should stand by this tyrant, that he is being abandoned in the name of political correctness? I ask again, who is being naive here? Israel may be able to keep Palestinians under control with brutal repression, but they are a minority with little ability to fight back. Mubarak has been able to control his people by similar means, but they are too numerous and angry to put down, this time.

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