Saturday, May 28, 2011
Obama, Netanyahu and World Peace
I have been searching for days for the words to summarize my feelings about what just happened last week with President Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
I have been reviewing the political backlash over the events, and I'm still reeling in a state of semi-shocked revulsion. I've written in the past about the history of the Jews, the state of Israel, and the tragic history of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It seems the more things change the more they remain the same. In the establishment of Zion in the last days it is to be expected there might be some surprises along the way, but the events of the last few days have been a stunner even for me as I've thought more about it.
Charles Krauthammer weighed in yesterday in the Washington Post. Not surprisingly, he believes President Obama is either a rank amateur or a provocateur. Most disappointing, once again, was the way Obama ambushed Netanyahu. The Obama speech was delivered while Netanyahu was in the air flying toward America, where he had requested some time in front of a joint session of Congress to deliver a speech intended to clarify his position and strengthen ties between the two countries.
So what does our President do? He boldly states Israel must be willing to return to the 1967 borders of the state of Israel before it was invaded, defeated its would-be conquerors, claimed the land the aggressors lost by the ill-fated incursion into the sovereign borders of Israel, then be willing to swap other Israeli land in exchange for an affirmation of the "right to return" asserted by the Arabs.
Then, having dropped that bombshell on the world, instead of sticking around for the speech like any former American president would have done, Obama jetted off to tip a pint in an Irish pub. Amazing and appalling treatment of America's only ally in the Middle East with a democratic form of government that is currently working well.
The Deseret News published an editorial, and tried to state the obvious without striking a strident note, in which they said: "Also this time, he decided to set specific parameters for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, specifying a return to the borders that existed prior to the Six Day War in 1967. That was a diplomatic bombshell that may make an agreement more difficult. It certainly gave Republicans something for which to attack the president after weeks of being tongue-tied by his success in destroying al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. It sent troubling signals about the nation's continuing support for Israel as a model for democracy in the region." The editorial then praised the president for offering support for what is being dubbed "the Arab spring," as more and more countries experience uprisings in search of freedom from dictatorial rule.
But in Obama's call for a return to the 1967 borders, Israel would be signing its death warrant, since the old line cuts Israel to a narrow neck of land seven miles wide and makes it virtually indefensible. It is also untenable to ask Israel to divide the Holy City Jerusalem once again. Having captured control of its Western Wall in 1967, the only remnant of their holiest site, the Temple Mount, it is impossible to imagine the state of Israel would willingly surrender it now. Not surprisingly, that is exactly what Netanyahu said publicly in his speech.
Obama quickly recovered, mocking his critics by stating he had said "mutually agreeable land swaps" is what he was talking about. But the problems still remain -- Israel is always required to give up land it acquired through wars with aggressors who attacked them, while the Palestinians merely have to make promises they have historically never kept.
Netanyahu, speaking to a joint session of Congress, made his position absolutely clear:
Krauthammer summarizes the peril into which the U.S. President has thrust Israel, and it has to do with weakening Israel's negotiating power in the U.N. through his reckless (or is it intentional?) teleprompter rhetoric. Writes Krauthammer, "Nor is this merely a theoretical proposition. Three times the Palestinians have been offered exactly that formula, 1967 plus swaps — at Camp David 2000, Taba 2001, and the 2008 Olmert-Abbas negotiations. Every time, the Palestinians said no and walked away.
"And that remains their position today: The 1967 lines. Period. Indeed, in September the Palestinians are going to the United Nations to get the world to ratify precisely that — a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines. No swaps.
"Note how Obama has undermined Israel’s negotiating position. He is demanding that Israel go into peace talks having already forfeited its claim to the territory won in the ’67 war — its only bargaining chip. Remember: That ’67 line runs right through Jerusalem. Thus the starting point of negotiations would be that the Western Wall and even Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter are Palestinian — alien territory for which Israel must now bargain.
"The very idea that Judaism’s holiest shrine is alien or that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is rightfully or historically or demographically Arab is an absurdity. And the idea that, in order to retain them, Israel has to give up parts of itself is a travesty."
So after all the history between America and Israel since 1948, when the state of Israel was initially approved on the narrowest of margins -- one vote cast by the U.S. -- President Obama is now undermining the Jewish state. Both sides of the aisle in Congress have demonstrated their bipartisan support for Netanyahu, reaffirming not only the Prime Minister, but also standing firm by repudiating Obama's speech.
Even Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, is his speech at AIPAC last week issued a strong statement in support of the right of Israel and the Palestinians, "and no one else," to negotiate their own path forward. PERIOD. Democrats and Republicans alike are united on this one issue -- the state of Israel has a firm and unyielding ally in the United States of America.
The only dissenter appears to be its Commander in Chief.