Saturday, May 28, 2011

Obama, Israel and America

I know I've been blogging an awful lot about Israel lately, but it has been in the news and I have been meaning to comment on the events of last week in Washington and have just not had time yet. I've been reading a lot of commentary on Obama's speech, the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, both of their speeches to AIEPAC and then Netanyahu's speech to the joint session of Congress. I've read the speeches and a lot of analysis (who could have time to read it all!) and I'd like to make two observations.

1. Barack Obama is clearly biased against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians, even though political realities force him to pretend to be Israel's friend. He cannot shift American foreign policy unilaterally and dramatically, but he can work incrementally to move it left-ward in little ways and this is what he is doing.

2. Many seasoned observers of American foreign policy regard him as a naive, incompetent, ill-informed amateur when it comes to foreign policy and this is undoubtedly true. He alienates allies and defers to enemies in such a way as to discourage those who should be standing with America and encouraging those whose fundamental interests are at odds with those of America. However, to say this is not in any way to negate point #1 above. He may well be both incompetent and biased.

The best summary of the week I've seen is from Charles Krauthammer, who writes in a NRO blog post entitled "What Obama Did to Israel":
"Every Arab-Israeli negotiation contains a fundamental asymmetry: Israel gives up land, which is tangible; the Arabs make promises, which are ephemeral. The longstanding American solution has been to nonetheless urge Israel to take risks for peace while America balances things by giving assurances of U.S. support for Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.

It’s on the basis of such solemn assurances that Israel undertook, for example, the Gaza withdrawal. In order to mitigate this risk, Pres. George W. Bush gave a written commitment that America supported Israel’s absorption of major settlement blocs in any peace agreement, opposed any return to the 1967 lines, and stood firm against the so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel.

For two and a half years, the Obama administration has refused to recognize and reaffirm these assurances. Then last week in his State Department speech, President Obama definitively trashed them. He declared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should indeed be resolved along “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Nothing new here, said Obama three days later. “By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different” from 1967.

It means nothing of the sort. “Mutually” means both parties have to agree. And if one side doesn’t? Then, by definition, you’re back to the 1967 lines.

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 U.N. 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 . . .

Obama also moved the goal posts on the so-called right of return. Flooding Israel with millions of Arabs would destroy the world’s only Jewish state while creating a 23rd Arab state and a second Palestinian state — not exactly what we mean when we speak of a “two-state solution.” That’s why it has been the policy of the U.S. to adamantly oppose this “right.”

Yet in his State Department speech, Obama refused to simply restate this position — and refused again in a supposedly corrective speech three days later. Instead, he told Israel it must negotiate the right of return with the Palestinians after having given every inch of territory. Bargaining with what, pray tell?

No matter. “The status quo is unsustainable,” declared Obama, “and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”

Israel too? Exactly what bold steps for peace have the Palestinians taken? Israel made three radically conciliatory offers to establish a Palestinian state, withdrew from Gaza, and has been trying to renew negotiations for more than two years. Meanwhile, the Gaza Palestinians have been firing rockets at Israeli towns and villages. And on the West Bank, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas turned down the Olmert offer, walked out of negotiations with Binyamin Netanyahu, and now defies the United States by seeking not peace talks but instant statehood — without peace, without recognizing Israel — at the U.N. And to make unmistakable this spurning of any peace process, Abbas agrees to join the openly genocidal Hamas in a unity government, which even Obama acknowledges makes negotiations impossible."

The key point is that Obama is putting pressure on Israel to make concessions now - in advance of any peace talks - without getting anything in return. Why, if he is not simply biased against Israel?

Alas, the mask has slipped. The reaction to Obama's biased speech has been fascinating. While left-wing media types profess to buy Obama's position that "nothing has changed," Jewish donors to the Democratic Party, the Canadian government, PM Netanyahu, Congress and even major players in the Democratic Party such as Harry Reid beg to differ. When the president is out to the left of Harry Reid, it is time to stop nonsensically referring to him as a "centrist." (And when the US president stands to the left of Canada on an issue, it really must be extraordinary times!)

PM Netanyahu's speech to Congress was interrupted 56 times for applause including 29 standing ovations. He was witty, relaxed and positive. Many Americans wish they had a president who could analyze the geo-political situation with his combination of moral clarity and logical thinking. It is safe to say that Obama does not speak for Congress, which is much closer to the American people, on this issue.

In the comments sections of various newspaper columns and blog posts, you often see people lamenting how "the Jews" control the US government and the media and everything else. Reading them is surreal; it is like going back into a time machine into the 1930s.

People on the left, who have thrown in their lot with Islamofascism, need to understand one thing: it is not just the Jews in the US who stand with Israel. And it is not just the fundamentalist, dispensationalist strain of American Evangelicalism. It is the majority of the American people who recognize in Israel a nation with a common heritage, a liberal democratic politics and a need for support in a hostile environment. They realize that once the Islamofascists succeed in destroying Israel ("the Little Satan"), America ("the Great Satan") is next on the menu. They understand that Israel and other Western countries have a common heritage, common tradition and common enemies.

The Left needs to understand that just as America rejected Stalin's Russia (which the Left held up as the Utopian future) and just as America rejected Hitler's Third Reich (with its attack on God and God's people), America will reject Islam and its attempt to destroy the West. When Israel is attacked, the West is attacked.

The Left has always been a Fifth Column within our culture - disloyal and dangerous. But it cannot win as long as the majority of the people reject it and its totalitarian friends. Obama is finding that out the hard way, and in November 2012, this lesson will be clear in a way that is indisputable. For as someone said: "Elections have consequences."

1 comment:

Peter Leavitt said...

Anyone who has read Obama's Dreams of My Father or Stanley Kurtz's volume Radical in Chief knows that Obama's fundamental sympathies lie with the Palestinians and other "oppressed" third world nations.

Craig Carter has Obama well pegged on this issue.