For a guy with as many problems as he already has, President Barack Obama doesn't need any more. That said the United Nations handed him a big one when it agreed to admit Palestine as a member state to UNESCO—the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Obama's relations with the American Jewish community are already badly frayed. The polls reflect it. His campaign financials suggest it. And, with the GOP winning a heavily-Jewish congressional seat in the middle of New York City a few weeks ago, the politics seem to confirm it. A middling response by the president to this move by UNESCO will only make things worse.
Politicians on the right were quick to jump on the issue, suggesting it was yet another of the global body's anti-Israel moves. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a candidate for the 2012 presidential nomination and long considered a strong friend to Israel said he condemned "the decision of the UNESCO to admit Palestine as a member state" while praising Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her quick action to cut off U.S. funding for UNESCO as required under current law.
"The vast anti-Israel faction at the United Nations will now try to use this vote as a first step toward full Palestinian recognition," Gingrich continued, "giving voice to a government that counts terrorist organization Hamas as a key participant. The United States must be prepared to suspend all funding to the United Nations if the General Assembly moves to recognize a Palestinian state under the control of Hamas." It's a sentiment that other Republicans, both in an out of the presidential race, and more than a few Democrats probably share. But, one wonders, does the president?
The time draws near, if it has not already arrived, for Obama to make a strong and resolute statement in opposition for the "back-dooring" of Palestinian statehood through the United Nations which would also, no doubt, be interpreted as a strong message of support for Israel. It is possible to do so without seeming to favor one side over the other, especially if one of those sides appears to be cheating.