Obama's Middle East Adventure
President Obama is launching a "charm offensive" in Israel. Despite previous visits to several Middle Eastern countries -- Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia -- this is Obama's first presidential visit to our most important, reliable ally in the Middle East.
Speaking in Tel Aviv yesterday, President Obama said, "The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend." But a recent Jerusalem Post poll found the Israeli public divided in its opinion of the Obama Administration. According to the poll, 36% of Israelis believe the administration is pro-Palestinian, 26% believe it is pro-Israel and another 26% believe their "greatest friend" is neutral.
At a press conference yesterday, President Obama said he was prepared to "do what is necessary" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But so far the only thing this administration has been willing to do is impose sanctions. And it has always supported the weakest possible sanctions at that! Thankfully, bi-partisan majorities in Congress have forced the White House to accept tougher measures, but even those have yet to persuade the mullahs to back down.
That said, I pray the president will be forced to accept reality. That reality became obvious this morning when as many as five rockets were fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza. Remember that Israel gave up Gaza in 2005 hoping for peace. Instead, the jihadists turned it into a launching pad for more rocket attacks that could reach deeper into Israel.
Today Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei threatened to destroy Tel Aviv. But President Obama urged Israel to take more "risks" for peace.
Where Is Jerusalem?
Here's another reason why some Israelis may be questioning the administration's support. Prior to this trip, the White House produced an online video highlighting the president's scheduled stops in the Middle East. The map of Israel appeared to exclude major locations, such as the Golan Heights, as being part of Israel.
Moreover, the White House's schedule refers to presidential visits in Amman, Jordan, Tel Aviv, Israel, but mentions Jerusalem without identifying it as being in Israel. I don't believe this was a mere oversight.
The Obama Administration and the left-wing media contend that Jerusalem will have to be divided, with half of it becoming part of a new Palestinian state. Imagine turning half of that city over to Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. But it may be all of Jerusalem. When the Islamists are broadcasting to their own people, they make it clear that they don't want half of Jerusalem, they want all of it.
There has been an ongoing effort for several years now, often with the cooperation of U.N. entities, seeking to delegitimize the idea that Jerusalem was ever a city of the Jews. They deny that the Western Wall is part of the Second Temple.
Wherever you are on this issue, even if you are not entirely pro-Israel, you need to understand that if Jerusalem has not been a home for Jews for thousands of years, then Christianity is built on a lie. If the Islamists succeed in delegitimizing Jews in Jerusalem, if it was never David's city, the city that Christ rode into on a donkey before his crucifixion, then they have also delegitimized Christianity.
Who Is Not Paying Their Fair Share?
Kudos to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Yesterday the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Chaffetz that would require federal employees to pay their taxes or lose their jobs.
Who could disagree with that? After all, federal employees only have jobs because Americans are paying their taxes. But Chaffetz was compelled to introduce his legislation after learning that more than 100,000 federal workers owe more than a combined $1 billion in delinquent taxes. "The very least an individual on the federal payroll can do is pay their taxes," Rep. Chaffetz said.
But not everyone felt the same way. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) blasted the bill, claiming that it "seeks to demonize federal employees." But with all the left's rhetoric about everyone needing to pay their fair share, Chaffetz' bill only seems fair.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Capitol Hill, senators were working on a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to restore the White House tours by reallocating funds from other parts of the budget. Unfortunately for tourists and schoolchildren all over the country, his amendment failed 45-to-54 on a largely party-line vote.