Obama and Israel

As some of my close Jewish friends will attest, I have always wondered how any Jew that supports Israel (which of course is almost all of them) could possibly vote for a Democrat party President.  I get all kinds of twisted rationale, none of which shakes my belief that many Democrats and most liberals are in their best moments neutral on Israel, and in their worst they are anti-Semitic.  While I don’t want to say President Obama is in the anti-Semitic extreme, there is no question his policies are exactly that, demonstrated no more boldly than in his speech Thursday to the Arab world.  In it he put a stake in the ground that any settlement must involve a return to the 1967 borders (borders, I might add, which were established during the 6 day war when Egypt, Syria, and Jordan simultaneously attacked Israel, and Israel fended them off).  The statement by the President severley hampers Israel’s negotiating capability, and will become a rallying cry for anti-Semites in the UN Security Council and Israel’s ill-willed enemies.

In our President’s view, he naively assumes near equivalence between a group that would randomly blow up Israeli pizza parlors and weddings to a country that only responds when attacked.  He assumes that, by drawing a line on a map, no one will cross those lines, and that even if they do he won’t have to be the one to suffer the horrifying consequences.  He assumes that a group like the Palestinians (if there really is such a thing), who have on multiple occasions walked away from the bargaining table after getting every concession they could ever hope for, are a partner for peace.

You see, ours is a President who has never had to really “do” anything, or lead anything, or negotiate anything.  I suppose, then, I should not be surprised when I see him putting a stake in the ground (“agreement must be based on 1967 border) on an outcome in a negotiation prior to negotiations being started– and giving the largest concession to the party that refuses to come to the table (the Arabs) and that is effectively committed to destroying the country of Israel and exterminating the Jewish people.  The same party, I might add, that recently merged two groups, Fatah (moderate led by Mahmoud Abbas) and Hamas (radical organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel).  How can our President possibly intercede the way he has given the threats to Israel and the obstinance of the Arabs?  Why would he establish a foundation for negotiation, in advance of the negotiation, that handicaps the only party operating in good faith?  Perhaps the Israeli’s would accept the pre-1967 borders, but not until after an intricate negotiation which multiple security guarantees, including an unmilitarized buffer.  The President just made the borders a starting point!

The best answer I have is that he is an academic, someone prone to theorizing and pontificating and idealism that is the stuff of college campuses but not the stuff of the real world.  And so, in such a world, the Israeli’s become the bad guys.  And yes, all over college campuses today their is rampant anti-Israeli prejudice built on good intent but completely faulty logic.  “They stole the land, they abuse the Arabs, they use too much force to protect themselves”, and Hamas is made equivalent to a democratic and peaceful Israel.  But we are not in Hanover, Cambridge, or Berkeley.  This is the real world.  President Obama even drew such an illustration:  He speaks of 2 fathers, one “Palestinian” and the other Israeli, who lost children in the unrest.  The Palestinian lost daughters in the Gaza conflict of 2008, and the Israeli lost his son to random rocket fire by Hamas.  Somehow these two become the same in the President’s mind, the Israeli’s killed the girls and Hamas killed the boy.  He’s half right.  In the case of the Israeli dying, he’s right that the people to blame are Hamas.   In the case of the daughter’s death, he is wrong, because the people to blame are also Hamas!  Hamas started the war, Hamas is relentless in their attacks on Israeli civilians, and only after provocation after provocation do the Israeli’s respond.  All in defense.  Hamas is almost always on offense, Israel is almost always on defense.  But to the President, these parties become the same.  The symbolism in his speech in regards to this is so utterly dangerous from a U.S. President.

Add to this the naive, liberal fantasy that somehow the Arab-Israeli conflict is the, or a, key reason for unrest in the Middle East.  This is preposterous.  You could solve this problem tomorrow and almost nothing would change in the region outside of Israel.  The real threats are an imperial and radical Iran (which the President hardly addressed and has managed abysmally), oppressive and brutal dictators, and Muslim extremists in the Middle East.  Sadly, the President’s speech was mostly about the Arab world in general, but because of the outrageous position he took on the 1967 borders that’s all anyone is writing and talking about.

It will be interesting to observe as we go forward all the momentum the President has just handed Hamas and the terrorists.  Their unwillingness to agree to any deal, their commitment to the destruction of Israel, is now emboldened.  Watch as the U.N. puts the wind at these terrorists back and blows them forward, and lambastes Israel.  For decades the only thing preventing such consequences has been a strong Israeli military and a stalwart ally in the U.S.  Sadly our President has just given that up.

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3 Responses to Obama and Israel

  1. Dave Watnick says:

    Dan,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion on this exasperatingly relevant conflict.

    I disagree with many of the charges within your commentary (including the hysterical suspicion that many Democrats and most liberals are, at their worst, anti-Semitic), but I hope you’ll forgive that, in the interest of time, I’m swinging only for the lowest-hanging fruits in a piece ripe with vulnerability. I encourage anyone to produce a more thorough critique if time permits.

    I’d like to director your attention to a passage in your post that seriously bungles the handling of a few key elements of history:

    “In it he put a stake in the ground that any settlement must involve a return to the 1967 borders (borders, I might add, which were established during the 6 day war when Egypt, Syria, and Jordan simultaneously attacked Israel, and Israel fended them off).”

    I apologize if life beyond the prelapsarian cocoon you’ve constructed here is a bit harsh, but I must begin plucking from this tempting tree.

    The Six-Day War of 1967 began with an Israeli offensive, a series of airstrikes known as Operation Focus, against air force positions of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Serious tensions had been festering in the Levant for a few weeks leading up to attack, but to my knowledge not even Israel disputes that its overt military actions signaled the opening of the war (the long-standing Israeli position is that its actions were a pre-emptive strike). Indeed, the Operation Focus airstrikes occurred on June 5, and the war ended on June 10, so even the Six-Day War name implies that the conflict began with Israeli action.

    In the course of the Six Day War, Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria (the territories indicated in green in this image). The borders that were established during the war encapsulated all these territories. The post-1967 borders endured until Israel completed the cession of Sinai back to Egypt in 1982. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and has granted Palestine partial or full control over scattered patches of the West Bank, but it continues to chip away at the Palestinian territory in there through the expansion of settlements. (This image does a good job of illustrating the status of land in the West Bank.) Golan, meanwhile, remains entirely under Israeli control.

    Why does this matter? Because when President Obama says a two-state solution should be based on the 1967 borders, he is referring to the pre-war borders, not the post-war borders, as you imply. I know of no sane person who is advocating a return to the post-war 1967 borders, although such a return would certainly tickle a few members of Likud. For anyone seeking to browse a menu of Israel/Palestine border offerings, these panels should whet your palate. (Keep in mind that the Gaza Strip is now fully under Palestinian control.)

    The pre-war 1967 borders are also referred to as the 1949 borders, as they prevailed from 1949 to 1967. These borders were established after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. President George W. Bush tended to refer to them as the 1949 borders when, just like his successor, he proposed them as the basis for any two-state solution. They seem like a reasonable basis to me.

    At present, Israel consists of its 1949-1967 territory, with the addition of West Bank and Golan territory seized in 1967. To claim that these holdings came to Israel during a war in which it was on the defensive is factually inaccurate.

    Hopefully this has been helpful in clearing things up.

    • vofreason says:

      Dave,

      Thanks for your reply and for clarifying and correcting some of the information in my post. This is helpful to all!

      In response in no particular order and to my best recollection of your key points:

      1. I know several liberal-minded people who are anti-semitic. However, I know this is a charged term to use, and I surely don’t want to give Democrat and liberal readers the impression I am calling them anti-Semitic because I don’t mean to, so let me put it another way that may be more palatable and maybe more precise. I know several, probably “many” liberals who don’t believe Israel has any right to exist as a country, and who believe the land was stolen, and that it should be given back to Arabs and/or “Palestinians”. Many of them also believe, naively and dangerously, that Israel should make compromises that the liberals believe would be safe and fine for Israel’s security, but which would end in the death of the country and hundreds of thousands of Jews. I also must be clear and say that I’m not saying “all”, or even “most” democrats or liberals are this way– if I did I mean to say, clearly, “too many” are.

      2. Your statements and that from others regarding Israel “starting” the 6 Day War reveal the kind of scary view that many liberals (I’m assuming you are one lol) take on Israel. It’s the same view many took of the 2008 Gaza War, or the boarding of the “freedom flotilla” by Israeli soldiers. The left in general views these as “offensive” moves and somehow “optional”, whereas the right generally sees these are defensive and necessary maneuvers and to “not” make them would be irresponsible to put it mildly.

      You see, when you are responsible for the security of an entire country, and you see 75,000 Syrian troops, artillary pieces, and tanks amassing on your border, and 100,000 Egyptian troops doing the same, and Jordan 55,000 troops the same, and Iraq readies it’s troops in Jordan to join the attack, and various other Arab countries rally fighter aircraft, troops, and tanks to assist in the invasion of your country, and you know that the your neighbors in general think your country should be destroyed, you take action. Maybe it’s just me, but I call a response to this gigantic threat a “defensive” one. Perhaps the left and the United Nations would have preferred the Israeli’s waited a few days and taken 10-20,000 casualties before they responded? Sorry, coalesce on my border and threaten my people, I’m going to assume the worst because it’s my responsibility to protect my people, and I’m going to stop you before you come.

      3. In regards to Obama’s speech, he has since revealed the absolute liar and deceiver-in-chief he has become. In one speech we hear he has said nothing new– the same things predecessors said (your reference to W), and in the next he talks about his “bold position” he is taking on Arab Israeli peace. Well, which is it? The same old position, or something new? This is just one of many examples where he plays games with the truth more than any President since Nixon, and he sadly gets away with it. (Note, he is doing the same shamelessly, outrageously, on medicare reform).

      4. I accept and appreciate the correction/clarification on the pre and post 1967 borders.

      Lastly in summary I will say this. The left in general thinks Israel is the main problem in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Said another way, “of the people who think Israel is the main problem in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the vast majority of them are liberals and Democrats”. I have observed and been conscious of this conflict since I was 12 years old, and I have seen the number of times that Israel has given the PLO everything they could ever realistically expect, and the PLO scuttles the deal in the end. This is because too many Arabs still believe Israel should be “wiped off the map”, and they can never reach agreement among themselves that says Israel is allowed to continue to exist.. I have never argued with a conservative about this concept– to a person everyone agrees with me on that side of the spectrum– and I have had the debate 100 times with liberals.

      Thanks again for reading my posts, and for your thoughtful comments, keep them coming.

      • vofreason says:

        Just saw this… I wonder who this woman voted for in the last election, McCain or Obama? I heard after being removed from the chamber she met Helen Thomas (another liberal) at a DC Starbucks for a latte! : )

        Disturbance in House chamber during Netanyahu’s speech
        By: CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh
        (CNN) – A woman was removed from the House Chamber by U.S Capitol Police Tuesday after interrupting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress.
        Police escorted her out of the chamber and she was heard screaming “equal rights for Palestine” loudly on the third floor of the Capitol outside the chamber.
        She also yelled, “The occupation of Palestine is indefensible.”

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