Another tough decision is coming up for Barack Obama. This one ought to be easy, even for the ditherer-in-chief. But before he decides to do the right thing, he’ll need all the bicarbonate of soda in the White House pantry.
The Arab League, on whom the United States and the “great powers” of Europe depend for the moral authority to impose the no-fly zone over Libya, now wants the United Nations to impose a similar no-fly zone over Gaza, whence the Palestinians fire their rockets at Israeli schoolchildren. The Israelis, naturally, fire back with airstrikes. This inconveniences the Palestinian rocket batteries no end, of course, and the Arab League is eager for someone, since the Arabs have never been able to do it, to make the Israelis submit to their own destruction.
Amr Moussa, the chief of the Arab League, told an “emergency meeting” of several Arab ambassadors that “the Arab bloc in the United Nations has been directed to ask for the convention of the Security Council to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza and impose a no-fly zone.” It’s no sure thing that the Arabs can persuade the mischief-makers at the U.N. to convene a meeting of the Security Council, and if they do, to get enough votes to authorize the no-fly zone. The United States could always veto it, and this, in any other imaginable administration in Washington, would be a no-brainer. But this is a barely imaginable American administration.
The gambit by the Arab League may be only that, an opening move to exploit the Gadhafi precedent to make serious trouble for both the United States and Israel. There’s always an opportunity at the U.N. to make trouble for the West, particularly since some of the nations of the West are eager to connive with the toy countries who make up most of the membership of that august body of freeloaders, moochers and easy riders. Russia, China and France can always be counted on to aid and abet mischief, and even the British often join the coterie of unreliables when the Jews are the targets of international ire.
President Obama has peopled his administration with prominent policymakers and aides who wear their hostility to Israel like Easter finery. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is a passionate and impetuous critic of America’s only reliable ally in the Middle East. Samantha Power, the senior director for multilateral affairs (this is not as naughty as it sounds) at the National Security Council, once in a fit of little-foot stamping proposed landing a “mammoth force” of American troops to protect the Palestinians from Israel. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is appropriately diplomatic in her present incarnation, but as the first lady she famously embraced Suha Arafat, wife of the since-deceased Yasser Arafat, with hugs and kisses at a rally in the Middle East in 1999.
Mrs. Arafat had told the rally that “our Palestinian people have been submitted to the daily and intensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children.” The Israelis had dumped “chemical materials” in the water, and Palestinian women and children had been poisoned with “toxic gases.” No one in the real world believed any of this, dismissing it as one of the fairy tales routinely used to entertain gullible Islamic masses. When Hillary stood up after the speech, some of the naive innocents in the audience, if any, half-expected her to confront Suha Arafat’s tall tales. Instead Hillary embraced her for a long moment of warm solidarity, and planted wet kisses on both cheeks. The photograph of the kissy-face moment was widely circulated in the Arab world, to the obvious ire of her husband. An aide chased after reporters to tell them that the hugs and kisses were an expression of Hillary’s own “personal view.”
And now, according to a report to be presented this week to “donor countries” in Brussels, the Palestinians are “ready for statehood.” Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, is expected to present a recital of facts, figures and speculations to demonstrate how the Palestinians have used hundreds of millions of dollars to form the institutions of justice, education, energy, health, housing and security necessary to creating a working state. There’s apparently nothing in his report about what the Palestinian Authority has done, if anything, to encourage the decent behavior everyone has a right to expect from the nations of the world. We may soon see what the ditherer-in-chief has to say about that.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.