The Big Fail: Another AIPAC, Another Reminder Of Broken Obama Promises

When Obama Speaks To AIPAC Today, Will He Repeat Many Of His Same Broken Promises?


Obama In 2008: “The Tradition Of The Jewish People Is To Judge Me By What I Say And What I’ve Done.” “Later, he said: ‘We’ve got to be careful about guilt by association. The tradition of the Jewish people is to judge me by what I say and what I’ve done.” (Jeff Zeleny, “Obama Asks Jewish Voters To Judge Him On His Policies,”The New York Times, 5/23/08)


Obama’s Promise Of “An Unwavering Friendship With Israel” Becomes “Complicated”: 

In 2008, Obama Told AIPAC That He Would Maintain “An Unwavering Friendship With Israel, And An Unshakeable Commitment To Its Security.” OBAMA: “That is the change we need in our foreign policy. Change that restores American power and influence. Change accompanied by a pledge that I will make known to allies and adversaries alike: that America maintains an unwavering friendship with Israel, and an unshakeable commitment to its security.” (Barack Obama, Remarks To AIPAC, Washington, D.C. 6/4/08)

 “Much Has Divided” Obama And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Much has divided the two leaders in the eight previous meetings they have held during the three years they have been in power, especially what Israel should do to promote peace with the Palestinians, including stopping settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.” (Ethan Bronner, “For Obama And Netanyahu, Wariness On Iran Will Dominate Talks,” The New York Times¸ 3/1/12)

  • Obama’s Relationship With Netanyahu Has Been “Complicated By Misunderstandings, Diplomatic Miscues And Occasional Differences Of Opinion.” “President Obama’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been complicated by misunderstandings, diplomatic miscues and occasional differences of opinion.” (Aamer Madhani, “Iran Further Complicates Relations Between Obama, Netanyahu,” USA Today, 3/2/12)

Vice President Biden, While Speaking With Rabbis In Boca Raton, FL, Admitted “That The Administration Had Made A Few Missteps In Its Handling Of The Israel Relationship.” “Mr. Biden told the rabbis that the administration had made a few missteps in its handling of the Israel relationship, including Mr. Obama’s decision not to go to Jerusalem as president, after he made his famous Cairo speech in 2009 in which he elevated the plight of the Palestinians to equal status with the Israelis’. (In fact, it was Mr. Biden who traveled to Israel that year, in what ended up being a disastrous trip in which the Israeli government announced new settlements just before his meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, prompting a sharp response from the Obama administration that included an irate 45-minute telephone call from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Mr. Netanyahu.)” (Helene Cooper, “Obama Turns To Biden To Reassure Jewish Voters, And Get Them To Contribute, Too,” New York Times, 9/30/11)

  • Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT): “Obviously, there have been some very tough moments between Israel and President Obama on questions such as his call for a so-called settlement freeze and the statement that he wanted to have Israel begin negotiations returning to the ’67 borders.” (“Lieberman Backs Obama, Sort Of, On Claim Of Support For Israeli Security,” Fox News, 12/1/11) 
  • Former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN): Obama’s “Israeli Policy Has Floundered.” “The Iran situation ‘is the toughest one for the president, and the one that could explode before the election,’ Hamilton said. ‘His Israeli policy has floundered. Iran is going to stay on the front burner because of the nuclear program.’” (Terry Atlas, “Obama’s ‘Pretty Strong Teflon’ Deflects Foreign Policy Criticism,” Bloomberg, 2/28/12)

CNN: Relations Between Israel And The United States Reached “A Low Point” In March 2010. “Israel’s settlement policy has become a friction point between Israel and the United States, with relations reaching a low point in March when Israel announced plans during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden to construct more than 1,000 new houses in East Jerusalem. The announcement outraged the Obama administration and led to the Palestinians’ withdrawing from agreed-upon indirect negotiations with Israel. In a visit later in March to the United States, Netanyahu was presented with a set of concessions that the White House wanted to see Israel make in an effort to restart the negotiations.” (“Obama, Netanyahu Emphasize Strength Of U.S.-Israel Ties,”, 7/6/10)

  • The Washington Post: The Dispute’s Dramatic Escalation Came “At The Direct Impetus Of Mr. Obama.” “The dispute’s dramatic escalation since then seems to have come at the direct impetus of Mr. Obama. Officials said he outlined points for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to make in a searing, 45-minute phone call to Mr. Netanyahu on Friday.” (Editorial, “The U.S. Quarrel With Israel,” The Washington Post, 3/16/10)

In 2011, Obama Was Caught On An Open Mic Sympathizing With The French President Expressing Exasperation At Israel:

Obama And French President Sarkozy Were Caught On An Open Mic “Expressing Their Exasperation” With Netanyahu At The G20 Conference. “President Obama and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, were reportedly caught in a candid moment expressing their exasperation with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu – with the French president referring to him as a ‘liar.’” (Tucker Reals, “Obama Sarkozy Reportedly Fed Up With Netanyahu,” CBS News11/8/11)

  • “‘I Cannot Bear Netanyahu, He’s A Liar,’ The French President Was Heard To Say.” (Tucker Reals, “Obama Sarkozy Reportedly Fed Up With Netanyahu,” CBS News11/8/11)
  • “In Response, According To The Account By Arret Sur Images, Mr. Obama Sympathizes With Sarkozy’s Frustration, Saying, ‘You’re Fed Up, But I Have To Deal With Him Every Day.’” (Tucker Reals, “Obama Sarkozy Reportedly Fed Up With Netanyahu,” CBS News11/8/11)

Obama Ambassador To Belgium And Fundraiser “Blames Israel For Anti-Semitism”:

Weekly Standard: “Obama Fundraiser And Ambassador Blames Israel For Anti-Semitism.” “The U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, recently told a conference hosted by the European Jewish Union that Israel is to blame for growing anti-Semitism harbored by people of Muslim faith. ‘A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,’ Gutman reportedly said, according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. ‘He also argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.’ According to the account in the Israeli paper, ‘The legal experts at the event were visibly stunned by Gutman’s words, and the next speaker offered a scathing rebuttal to the envoy’s remarks.’” (Daniel Halper, “Obama Fundraiser And Ambassador Blames Israel For Anti-Semitism,” Weekly Standard’s “The Blog,” 12/3/11)

  • ABC News: “US Ambassador Under Fire For Comments On Anti-Semitism.” “The US Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, finds himself under fire this morning for comments he made about the roots of some Muslim anti-Semitism, comments from which the White House distanced itself. Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, reported Friday that Gutman told a Jewish conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union that – as the newspaper described it – ‘a distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.’” (Jake Tapper, “US Ambassador Under Fire For Comments On Anti-Semitism,” ABC News, 12/4/11)

Obama FY 2013 Budget Seeks UNESCO Funding Despite Recognition Of Palestinian Statehood:

Obama’s FY 2013 Budget Asks “Congress To Waive A Ban On Funding UNESCO Over Its Recognition Of Palestinian Statehood.” The Obama administration formally announced its intention to ask Congress to waive a ban on funding UNESCO over its recognition of Palestinian statehood. ‘The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO,’ says a footnote in the budget that the White House submitted to Congress this month. The footnote was quoted in a press release issued Wednesday by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, who says she plans to oppose such a waiver.” (Ron Kampeas, “Obama Administration To Seek Waiver On UNESCO Funding Ban,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, 2/15/12)

  • Funding UNESCO “Was Stopped Late Last Year Because Of Laws Banning U.S. Funding Of Any International Organization That Recognizes Palestinian Statehood In The Absence Of A Peace Agreement With Israel.” “U.S. funding for UNESCO, the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization, was stopped late last year because of laws banning U.S. funding of any international organization that recognizes Palestinian statehood in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel.” (Ron Kampeas, “Obama Administration To Seek Waiver On UNESCO Funding Ban,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, 2/15/12) 



Obama’s Promise Of “An Active Role” In Middle East Peace Process Was “Poorly Executed” And Is “Stalled”:

In 2008, Obama Told AIPAC He Would “Take An Active Role” In The Middle East Peace Process. OBAMA: “And I won’t wait until the waning days of my presidency. I will take an active role, and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of peace from the start of my administration.” (Barack Obama, Remarks To AIPAC, Washington, D.C. 6/4/08)

The Associated Press: “Obama Mideast Policy Adrift Amid Crises.” “The world’s lone superpower has become superpowerless in one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Boxed in by competing political and diplomatic agendas, the United States has lost the ability to stop either the Israelis or the Palestinians from acting against the interests of U.S.-backed peace efforts and against the express wishes of the United States.” (Matthew Lee, “Analysis: Obama Mideast Policy Adrift Amid Crises,” The Associated Press, 11/3/11)

The Washington Post: “The Administration Has Few, If Any, Achievements To Brag About Despite Having Invested Significant Diplomatic Capital In The Israeli-Palestinian Issue.” “After 2 ½ years, the administration has few, if any, achievements to brag about despite having invested significant diplomatic capital in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. If anything, one could make a case that the two sides are further apart because of the administration’s actions, though, to be fair, ultimately it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to make peace, not the United States.” (Glenn Kessler, “Obama and Israel: Stalled Diplomacy Or ‘Suspicion And Distrust’?”The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” Blog, 7/11/11)

  • Special Envoy George Mitchell’s Resignation In 2011 All But Signaled The Obama Administration’s Collapse Of Any Progress In The Israel-Palestinian Peace Process. “The resignation of U.S. Middle East special envoy George Mitchell on Friday puts a punctuation mark on the end of two years of high-profile meetings and quiet stalemate in the Israel-Palestinian peace process, which has all but collapsed on the Obama administration’s watch.” (Ben Smith, “Mitchell’s Exit Marks Low Point,” Politico, 5/13/11)
  •  “Even Some Of The President’s Closest Foreign Policy Allies Concede There Is Little, If Anything, To Show For The Administration’s Intense Early Efforts To Broker Peace.” (Josh Gerstein, “Obama Shifts Mideast Message,” Politico, 5/18/11)


Obama’s Promise Of Not Dictating To Israel Lost Amid Call For Israel To Unilaterally Withdraw To 1967 Borders:

In 2008, Obama Said “It Is Not The Job Of The United States To Dictate” An Agreement Between The Israelis And Palestinians. “That’s an issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis, and it is not the job of the United States to dictate the form in which that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues that have a long history,’ Obama told reporters later.” (Sasha Issenberg, “Obama Commits To Defend Security Of Israel,” The Boston Globe, 7/24/08)

In May 2011, Obama “Endorsed A Key Palestinian Demand” And Called For Israel To Withdraw To The 1967 Borders For A Two State Solution. “Forcefully stepping into an explosive Middle East debate, President Barack Obama on Thursday endorsed a key Palestinian demand for the borders of its future state and prodded Israel to accept that it can never have a truly peaceful nation based on ‘permanent occupation.’ Obama’s urging that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders — before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza — was a significant shift in the U.S. approach. It drew an immediate negative response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to meet with Obama at the White House Friday.” (Ben Feller, “Obama Urges Israel To Go Back To 1967 Borders,” The Associated Press, 5/19/11)

Headline: “Democrats Join Republicans In Questioning Obama’s Policy On Israel.” (Peter Wallsten, “Democrats Join Republicans In Questioning Obama’s Policy On Israel,” Washington Post, 5/24/11)

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): “The place where negotiating will happen must be at the negotiating table – and nowhere else.” (Josh Gerstein, “Harry Reid Rebukes Barack Obama Over Israel,” Politico5/24/11)

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) “Suggested Sunday That Israel Should Not Be Required To Shrink Its Borders As A Precondition Of Peace Talks With The Palestinians.” (Mike Lillis, “Hoyer Bucks Obama On Israeli Borders,” The Hill, 5/22/11) 

Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ): The United States Should Not Employ Its “Influence To Compel Israel To Withdraw To Its Pre-1967 Borders.” “My support for these principles is precisely the reason that I disagree strongly with the proposal to employ US influence to compel Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders. Israel’s acquisition of territory since that date has been for one reason alone– to defend herself against aggression that threatens the existence of the only state in the Middle East that practices democracy and respects human rights.” (Rep. Robert Andrews, Press Release, 5/19/11)


Obama’s Promise Of An “Undivided” Jerusalem As The “Capital Of Israel” Gets A Presidential Waiver:

In 2008, Obama Told AIPAC That Jerusalem “Will Remain The Capital Of Israel, And It Must Remain Undivided.” OBAMA: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At AIPAC, Arlington, VA, 6/4/08)

  • One Day Later, Obama Said The Future Of Jerusalem Would Have To Be Negotiated By Israel And The Palestinians. CANDY CROWLEY: “I want to ask you about something you said in AIPAC yesterday. You said that Jerusalem must remain undivided. Do Palestinians have no claim to Jerusalem in the future?” OBAMA: “Well, obviously, it’s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 6/5/08)
  • “Facing Criticism From Palestinians, Sen. Barack Obama Acknowledged Today That The Status Of Jerusalem Will Need To Be Negotiated In Future Peace Talks, Amending A Statement Earlier In The Week That Jerusalem ‘Must Remain Undivided.’” (Glenn Kessler, “Obama Clarifies Remarks On Jerusalem,” The Washington Post’s ”The Trail” Blog,, 6/5/08)

Obama Issued A Waiver To Delay Moving The U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem And Removed Former Language Affirming U.S. Commitment “To Beginning The Process Of Moving Our Embassy To Jerusalem.” “In June 2009, Mr. Obama issued Presidential Determination 2009-19, ‘Suspension of Limitations Under the Jerusalem Embassy Act,’ a legally required waiver to continue to delay the May 31, 1999, deadline for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Presidents have issued this determination twice a year ever since, but Mr. Obama deleted a passage that appeared in previous declarations stating the United States ‘remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.’” (Editorial, “Obama’s Faithless Pledges To Israel,” The Washington Times, 5/20/11)

  • “President Obama Extended A Waiver For An Additional Six Months Delaying Moving The U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem.” “President Obama extended a waiver for an additional six months delaying moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Obama’s waiver, issued June 3, follows in the footsteps of predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who also extended the waiver every six months since a law was passed in 1995 mandating moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Presidents are permitted to delay the move on national security grounds.” (“Obama Extends Israel Embassy Waiver,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 6/5/11)




Obama’s Promise To Defend Israel From Tehran Turns Into Following From Behind:

In 2008, Obama Told AIPAC That He Would “Ensure That Israel Can Defend Itself From Any Threat-From Gaza To Tehran.” OBAMA: “I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat – from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened.” (Barack Obama, Remarks To AIPAC, Washington, D.C. 6/4/08)

Politico’s Mike Allen: “Iran And North Korea Have Yet To Deliver On Obama’s Promise That U.S. Engagement Will Yield Better Behavior.” (Mike Allen, “The Diplomacy Of Deference,” Politico, 11/17/09) 

  • Sec. Of State Clinton: “I Don’t Think Anyone Can Doubt That Our Outreach Has Produced Very Little In Terms Of Any Kind Of Positive Response From The Iranians.” (Matthew Lee, “Clinton: Outreach To Iran Has Failed,” The Associated Press, 12/15/09)
  • “Obama’s Outreach To Tehran Fell Flat.” “Mr. Obama came to office advocating a policy of engagement with Iran and repeatedly has dismissed the goal of regime change. However, Mr. Obama’s outreach to Tehran fell flat, and he was forced to resort to new rounds of economic sanctions to try and force the country to halt its alleged nuclear development.” (Patrick O’Connor And Julian E. Barnes, “Gingrich Calls For Regime Change In Iran,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/24/11)

The Washington Post: “More Half-Measures From Obama Administration On Iran.” “The Obama Administration pledged that Iran would suffer painful consequences for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and for refusing to freeze its nuclear program. Key European allies and Congress – not to mention Israel – are ready for decisive action. But on Monday the administration unveiled another series of half-steps. Sanctions were toughened on Iran’s oil industry, but there was no move to block its exports. The Iranian banking system was designated ‘a primary money laundering concern,’ a step U.S. officials said could prompt banks and companies around the world to cease doing business with the country. But the administration declined to directly sanction the central bank.” (Editorial, “More Half-Measures From Obama Administration On Iran,” The Washington Post, 11/22/11)

The Washington Post: “The Result Is That President Obama Is Not Even Leading From Behind On Iran; He Is Simply Behind.” “The result is that President Obama is not even leading from behind on Iran; he is simply behind. At the forefront of the Western effort to pressure Tehran is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who issued a statement Monday calling on the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada and ‘other willing countries’ to ‘immediately freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank’ and suspend purchases of Iranian oil.” (Editorial, “More Half-Measures From Obama Administration On Iran,” The Washington Post, 11/22/11)

Los Angeles Times: Despite Obama Administration’s “Vows To Cripple Iran,” “It Is Leaders In Congress And Europe Who Have Seized The Lead In The West’s Long-Running Campaign To Punish Tehran For Its Suspected Nuclear Weapons Program.” “Despite the Obama administration’s vows to cripple Iran with economic sanctions, it is leaders in Congress and Europe who have seized the lead in the West’s long-running campaign to punish Tehran for its suspected nuclear weapons program. In recent months, the toughest moves to deter Iran from pursuing its presumed nuclear ambitions have come from a bipartisan group in Congress and European allies, especially Britain and France. The White House at first resisted these steps before embracing them as inevitable.” (Paul Richter, “Obama Administration Takes Back Seat On Iran Sanctions,” Los Angeles Times, 2/17/12)

  • “The Administration Is Now Trying To Avoid The Appearance Of ‘Following From Behind.’” “As a result, the White House has had to scramble to keep up with the pace set by Congress and the Europeans. While critics have long accused Obama of ‘leading from behind’ by empowering other countries to carry out America’s bidding on world crises, the administration is now trying to avoid the appearance of ‘following from behind.’” (Paul Richter, “Obama Administration Takes Back Seat On Iran Sanctions,” Los Angeles Times, 2/17/12)

Biden National Security Adviser Antony Blinken Says U.S. Policy In Iran Is Based On “Buying Time And Continuing To Move This Problem Into The Future.” “U.S. policy on Iran is aimed at ‘buying time and continuing to move this problem into the future, and if you can do that – strange things can happen in the interim,’ Anthony [sic] Blinken, National Security Adviser to Vice President Biden and Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, said on Monday. ‘You never know,’ Blinken added.” (Chemi Shalev, “U.S. Policy Aimed At ‘Buying Time’ With Iran, Says Senior Official,” Haaretz, 2/28/12)