Perry: Obama's Middle East policies are 'naive' and 'dangerous' and worst of all, just sort of 'muddled'
1:54 pm Sep. 20, 2011
Governor Rick Perry of Texas said at a press conference in Manhattan today that Barack Obama's policies in the Middle East were "naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous" painting the embattled president as a wayward policy maker who has left "adversaries" and "allies alike" unsure "where America stands."
Speaking to reporters in a second floor ballroom at the W Hotel near Union Square, surrounded by conservative Jewish leaders, a hard-line Israeli politician and newly elected Republican congressman Bob Turner, Perry said he wanted to build a "feeling of trust" and a clearer understand of "here is where America stands every day."
Perry said three conditions needed to be met before Palestinian statehood could be achieved: official Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, renunciation of terrorism and the release of kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit, and direct bilateral negotiations with Israel.
"By not insisting on these principles," Perry said, reading from prepared remarks, "the Obama administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospects of peace."
Perry said the U.S. should "reconsider" funding for the U.N. if it voted to grant Palestinian statehood without direct negotiations with Israel, and said the same could go for the money sent direct to the Palestinian authority each year.
A portion of Perry's remarks focused on Iran. He said Obama "fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change" by "wasting precious time on a naive policy of outreach" rather than supporting protesters in Tehran and elsewhere.
"Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything in its power to provide diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents who sought freedom," he said.
Among other things, the event underscored the unabashedly close relationship that now exist between the Republican Party and allies of the hawk-dominated government in Israel, who have found common cause in their opposition the Obama administration's pursuit of a peace process.
"We are not worried about a declaration in the U.N.," said the deputy speaker of the Knessett, Danny Danon. "Even if there will be a vote, it will be a Facebook state. They will have a lot of flags on Facebook, but it will not change the lives of Israelis."
Danon said Israel would "protect" Jewish communities in the Palestinian territories and said there was "a lack of leadership coming from the White House."
Turner, whose campaign was premised on "sending a message" to the White House for not unconditionally supporting the negotiating stance of the Netanyahu government in Israel, said "our foreign policy doesn't have to be very complex" and that it basically comes down to acknowledging "who are friends are."
Turner then introduced the "very helpful" Dov Hikind, an assemblyman from Brooklyn.
Hikind, who acted as a surrogate for Turner during his congressional campaign and has continued since then, said he was a "proud Democrat" but "not a blind one." Hikind said the election of Turner "it should be crystal clear to the White House: we don't like your policy on Israel."
After saying he had personally escaped a rocket attack while in Israel not long ago, Hikind mockingly appropriated one of the president's campaign slogans, telling assembled reporters, "I think the American people need change they can believe in. That's what it's all about."
He went on to say it was "beyond the pale" to think about supporting Obama "having watched him these last three years." Referring to Perry's recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Hikind said, "Those sound like the speeches I've been making for years."
Joseph Frager, a Jewish political activist who helped organize Glenn Beck's recent rally in Israel and has advised erstwhile presidential contender Mike Huckabee, was among the organizers of the event.
Asked whether, given the comments of the people around him regarding the protection of settlements in the Palestinian territories, Perry supported a two-state solution, Perry said he did, but only if it's negotiated directly with Israel.
"I do support a two-state solution only if the nation of Israel and the Palestinian Authorities do sit and have direct negations between each other and under no other circumstances would I accept that or support that," he said.
In response to a subsequent question, from a reporter from an Israeli outlet, Perry said, echoing a battle cry from the first Bush-Cheney campaign, "I hope you will tell the people of Israel that help is on the way."
(The slogan was later taken up, in 2004, by John Kerry.)
When asked whether Israelis should be allowed to continue building settlements, Perry said, "I think so, it's their land."