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Monday, February 21, 2011

On Bended Knees

The Obama administration came close to what many of us have feared would happen, abandoning Israel at the U.N.

Yes, the U.S. finally -- after a sustained bipartisan Congressional outcry -- did veto a one-sided and politically opportunistic resolution pushed by the Palestinian Authority declaring Israeli settlement construction anywhere beyond the 1967 border to be "illegal."

But this veto was hardly a victory for Israel.  As Jonathan Tobin points out at Commentary, the Obama administration performance was damaging (emphasis mine):
On the surface, the veto cast by the United States in the UN Security Council on Friday ought to be considered more proof of Obama’s steadfastness as a friend of Israel. When all was said and done, he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and refused to allow the UN body to brand Israel a criminal lawbreaker. That this veto took place after an American effort to head off a vote by proposing a “statement” by the president of Security Council, rather than a formal resolution, was rejected by the Palestinians was testimony to the latter’s intransigence and not to Obama’s loyalty to his Israeli ally. And the unnecessary explanation given after the vote that branded the Jewish state’s position on the issue of settlements as “illegitimate” and went on to claim that they “threatened” peace and “devastate” trust undermined any notion of U.S. support for Israel.

Obama apologists could argue that opposition to settlements isn’t new. But the talk of the “illegitimacy” of the homes of not only the more than quarter million Israelis who live in the West Bank but of the more than 200,000 who live in the parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1949 and 1967 is something different. As with the fight that Obama picked in the spring of 2010 over building houses in an existing Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, this statement escalates a long-standing disagreement into a more serious dispute. Obama’s attempt to erase the distinction between the remote settlements that Israel has already said it would give up in a peace accord and those that the Bush administration conceded in a 2004 were established facts that must be respected was one thing. But Obama’s willingness to treat 40-year-old Jewish neighborhoods in Israel’s ancient capital as illegal settlements was quite another. Agreeing with those who wrongly claim all the settlements are illegal (as opposed to unwise or worthy of surrender for the sake of peace) was bad enough. But the American declaration on Friday (repeated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on ABC News on Sunday) that the Jewish presence there was “illegitimate” again places the issue in a different light....
So while relations could still deteriorate further, there is no doubt that Obama’s negative feelings toward Israel are becoming a serious factor in Middle East diplomacy that is making the already poor chances for peace worse and increasing the possibility that Israel’s foes will conclude that the Jewish state cannot count on U.S. support if new fighting breaks out along the border with Gaza or Lebanon.
The damage was not just to Israel, which was pushed by the Obama administration right up to the precipice but not over it (yet).

The drama of the U.S. practically begging Mahmoud Abbas not to push the resolution, and the apologetic statement of Susan Rice after veto was cast, continue to cement the perception that the U.S. is weak.  Which encourages more demands and more intransigence, including the upcoming Palestinian "day of rage" directed at the U.S. for not capitulating to their demands. 

For heavan's sake, we're now on bended knees to Mahmoud Abbas?

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  1. What gets me is that the Palis haven't taken the minor (and they could easily just lie about it) step of renouncing terrorism and recognizing Israel's right to exist. (part of the Oslo accords I believe).

    The Palis have rocketed and homicide bombed (notice how the homicide bombings went to nothing since the wall went up. Heh) Israel and NEVER been condemned by the U.N.

    AS someone said:
    "if Palestinians laid down their weapons, there would be peace. If Israel laid down it's weapons, there would be slaughter."

    It is obvious who is acting 'illegally' and who is not.

  2. Building beyond the 1967 lines is considered a threat to peace and Israel expansionism. This gives rise to a couple of questions:

    1. When did the pre-1967 lines become sacred? From the Rhodes agreement on the Arabs always insisted that the lines were merely positions at which they had for the moment agreed to stop fighting. But they were adamant that the lines were not, could not, and never would be borders because they would recognize no permanent borders for the Zionist entity which would be wiped out when it could be wiped out. Statements by Arab leaders in the run-up to the Six Days War are clear that they regarded the upcoming fighting as a chance to wipe out the Zionist entity. So how come after they lose a war the old "these are not borders' lines suddenly become borders beyond which Israeli activity is illegitimate?

    2. I notice that no one has said that some of the settlements might be in the future Palestinian state. It's simply taken as read that while Arabs have the right to live in Israel (and I am not suggesting that they shouldn't), the Palestinian state has to be judenrein. I'm not sure why this is accepted as, you'll excuse the expression, gospel truth.

  3. What part of 'Bend Over to my Masters' has Obama not made clear?

    This was always coming.

  4. Well said.

    It's become clear that the only reason the uprising's are taking place is that the leadership appears weak and the hunger level is high. This is EXACTLY the time for words stronger than "Unclench your fist."

    Obama is, unfortunately, not the right President at the right time and it will cost both the US and Israel dearly.

  5. "That this veto took place after an American effort to head off a vote by proposing a “statement” by the president of Security Council, rather than a formal resolution, was rejected by the Palestinians was testimony to the latter’s intransigence and not to Obama’s loyalty to his Israeli ally."

    Kind of a nice analogy of giving up some land for peace.

    I sometimes get the feeling that the death of Israel and the Jews is more important to them than land.

  6. How could anyone know of this veto and not be surprised by it. The whole Arab world is changing and we are again be reactive instead of proactive. This vote should have be "yes" to anyone who believes that these settlements are illegal. Period! If we can't even agree on that points how will peace ever be found in the Middle EAst?
    Oh, I know, I've got an idea! How about more talks?????? That should blind the world to the fact that Israel is pillaging land, stealer water supplies killing women and children now with our blessing! Whoa to those who perpetrate those crimes even if they are "Gods chosen people"

  7. Israel's right to the land was made clear in the Bible. For more modern references, League of Nations Mandate and UN Resolution of 1947 (rejected by the Arabs).

    I'd say that is a pretty clear document trail of legimitacy.

    Now if Obama would only show his document trail...LOL

  8. @ Yechiel:
    Why should billions of people who do not believe in the existence of a deity accept either New or Old Testament of the Bible, or the Koran as legal precedent or be bound by it's rules? How can we reject the Divine Right of Kings if we accept the Bible as law? And as far as UN Resolutions go, isn't Israel in violation of more than a couple itself? So that isn't much of a justification either.

    And as for Obama's documents, what do you want, a birth certificate inscribed on a tablet or among the Dead Sea Scrolls?

  9. Charles seems to be suggesting that, not only is there a good chance Obama was born in foreign lands, he's lying about his age, to boot.

    Come on, Obama. McCain showed his, now let us see yours.

  10. @ runic:
    Nice! Made me laugh.
    Wasn't McCain born in Panama?

  11. Charles, please tell me which UN resolutions Israel is not abiding by. 242 was specifically worded not to require Israel withdraw to the 1949 cease-fire line.
    But in any case, the League of Nations mandate was prior and adopted by the UN on establishment. It actually included all of today's Jordan - which no one in Israel is asking for.
    So Israel has been bending over backwards quite a lot, although it has never and will probably never do any good.
    As an aside, there has never been a Palestinian state or people. Even in the 70's Arab leaders were denying the exisitence of a palestenian people.
    Jewish soldiers fighting for the British in WW2 were the ones defined as Palestenian.

    About Obama - it isn't just his birth certificate, it is his entire paper trail. GWB revealed his college transcript, mccain his birth certificate. Why does BHO "mister transparency" think he is above all this? The behaviour pattern is not a healthy one.

  12. Forgot to mention - even if you look at the Bible as merely an historical document, it shows prior claim.

    The Arabs did not originate in the territory under dispute and therefore have a weaker claim.
    For documentation, please read Samuel Clemens (aka mark twain) on his travels to the holy land.

  13. Yechiel,
    The thing about the birth certificate is so stupid. He has produced it. People just choose to ignore that. The whole furor about it is absurd and, no more justified than the talk about death panels or anything else that comes out of Palin's mouth. And when you question them on it, they start to get a little indignant and squirm and say ambiguous things like, "his whole paper trail." What are you referring to exactly? And what is your problem with it? His transcripts from grade school to law school? The books he wrote? I have no idea what you are talking about. And by the way, I am not a big fan of Obama, but please do not offer GWB as a paragon of upstanding transparency. Or talk to me of McCain's behavior during the campaign. Were he alive, I'd like to know what hell Dante would cast him in for unleashing Palin on the world and our political discourse. The decline has been significant.

    As for historical claims, many people over the millennia have had claim to what is now called Israel. The Jewish people were not the first to occupy that land. David, like most kings, was a soldier and conquered many, not just Goliath. (By the way, accepting the Bible as an historical document is not the same thing as accepting it as historical fact.) And let's not forget the British weren't exactly neutral about what was going on in the former Ottoman Empire. If they called Jewish soldiers Palestinians, it was probably because they didn't want to call them Zionists because they might feel obligated to stop objecting to the Zionist project, as they were against it before they were for it.

    As for the other rulers in the area, to their minds, why should they acknowledge a Palestinian people? How inconvenient for them! But nations are not necessarily of one ethnicity. In fact, in the modern world, in the era of the nation-state, they rarely are, just ask the Americans, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Egyptians, or the Turkish. All have significant ethnicities within their borders with distinct identities, some of them quite politically aware and linguistically and or religiously distinct. Israel is also a member of this club, like it or not.

    The real issue is not any claim whether centuries old or millennia or written in someone's sacred text. No one will agree on that. Those arguments just provide justification for disagreement and violence. The fact is they are all there now and have to figure out a way to coexist. I believe Arafat served his cause poorly when he rejected Barak's offer in 2000. I also believe that was about the last time Israel really bent over backwards. Huge opportunity missed. It makes me sad to think about it.

    Let's not get started on which UN resolutions Israel has violated, especially not 242, because Israel, later joined by the US, has it's own special interpretation of what it means, that, as I understand, almost no one else in the world agrees with at all.

    I will read Clemens. I have been looking for a new book to read for a week or so and that sounds like a good idea.