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Friday, May 20, 2011

Why Now, Why Israel?

Why yesterday for Obama to unload the demand that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, with some negotiated land swaps? 

Contrary to what some are claiming, this is a new formulation.  Under the Obama formulation, Israel has a land mass fixed by the 1949 armistice lines, lines which the Arabs never recognized as having any meaning until after Israel acquired more land in 1967.  Hamas, which controls Gaza and has entered into a ruling coalition government for all of the Palestinian Authority, does not recognize Israel's right to exist within any borders.

While previous U.S. administrations acknowledged that the pre-1967 borders likely would be the starting framework for a territorial deal, no prior administration set those borders as the best Israel could do.  Issues such as Israeli communities beyond the pre-1967 borders or control of strategic Wests Bank hills and the Jordan Valley, now are open to negotiation on terms set by Obama -- in a land swap of existing Israeli sovereign territory.  The standard territorial compromises which would afford Israel territorial security no longer are presumed.

The Obama apologists who are falling all over themselves to say this really was nothing new, have to ask themselves, if this was nothing new, why did Obama make such a big deal about it in his major Middle East Speech?  If it was no big deal, why were there intense communications between Israel and Obama officials in the hours leading up to the speech?  If it was no big deal, why did Obama wait until the last minute to decide whether to include the language in his speech?

All of the evidence, historical and otherwise, demonstrates that Obama intended to make a bold new policy statement with his reference to Israel returning to the pre-1967 borders plus some negotiated land swaps.

Why now?  Why so soon after Hamas and Fatah kissed and made up (at least superficially)?  Why in a speech in which Obama made clear that the butcher of Damascus could and should stay in power so long as he implemented reforms?  Why just a day before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu left for the U.S. for a speech before a joint session of Congress?

I don't think it is hatred of Israel.  Surely there are Israelis who love their country who take a similar view to Obama. 

More than a hatred of Israel, Obama simply doesn't feel the historical, religious, and emotional connection to Israel felt by a majority of Americans.  Much as the unique British-American relationship was cast aside, so too the special Israeli-American relationship is secondary to a greater goal.

The greater goal is Obama's legacy and ego.  Obama wants to accomplish what no other person has been able to achieve, Arab acceptance of Israel as a permanent Jewish state in the midst of a sea of Muslim nations.

It is an elusive goal because Israel is not accepted by Muslims.  That's the hard truth.  Even in Egypt, which has a peace agreement with Israel, public opinion is against Israel and anti-Israel clerics can draw a million people into the streets to chant anti-Israel slogans without much effort.

Similarly, the Palestinians show no signs of truly accepting Israel.  Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, and if there were free elections again in Palestinian Authority territory, it is likely Hamas would win.  The Palestinians, through their votes and actions, have made clear that any agreement with Israel would be just a stage in the war to destroy Israel.

Against this backdrop of rejectionism, there is only one party who can be pressured if Obama is to achieve his goals, and that party is Israel. 

As Obama knows, Israel is very vulnerable absent Obama diplomatic support.  Attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel are only one U.S. abstention in the U.N. Security Council away from success.  With an upcoming U.N. General Assembly session in September intended to declare a Palestinian state, the position of the U.S. and European Union on the issue is the difference between the declaration being just another meaningless anti-Israel General Assembly resolution, or the tool by which Israel is made a pariah nation isolated even from its only allies.

So Obama, ego-driven and determined to make his place in history, has only one place to go to force a peace agreement.  That place is Jerusalem, not Ramallah.

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  1. Israel should tell the U.S. to go to a pre 1848 border and give California back to Mexico.

  2. Look at who O listened to for twenty years. And Wright was just one of many friends like that. No, I think there might be hatred behind his actions. He's starting to scare me now.

  3. Obama is an "anti-colonialist" and sees everything through this lens. He likely views Israel and another form of "European" colonization of lands belonging to the "brown man" and seeks the dissolution of that state. In the same way, I believe this thinking extends to the country he governs (rules?). He believes the U.S. is the new colonial standard bearer, and seeks to diminish our wealth, our power, and probably our geographic footprint.

    @Beef: Don't worry, Obama plans on doing that as well. Wait for the "Mexican Intifada" coming soon to a southwestern state near you.

  4. Professor

    What about Obama leads you to believe that he is a good man?

    Are you not concerned that in order for you to assign honest motives to him, you have to jump through such contortions to find a possible noble intention?

    If you start with the premise that Obama is evil and hates Israel and intends to destroy her, then things really are quite simple.

    I know it is very hard for a good man to consider somebody evil, but I suggest you try.

    Sorry to be so harsh, but you are acting like a boy scout at his first mugging.

  5. Your point about there being only one side to pressure motivates most peace processors. To believe that one side absolutely rejects the other would mean that their fundamental religious belief is vain; that's too horrible. Peace must be possible and the only way to achieve it is by pressuring Israel.

  6. so obama's motivation is political and self serving. i am jack's complete lack of surprise.

  7. I do not agree with you about Obama; I believe his upbringing has taught him to hate both Jews and Israel. Dinesh D'Souza's book The Roots of Obama's Rage is illuminating on this point.

    Also, I found this blog entry helpful to understand why there will never be peace, no matter what the Palestinians get by any "land swap" and "independent sovereign state": About Yasser Arafat

    Those who voted for Obama have done great damage both to the US and the world. Shame. Nothing but shame, on them.

  8. Consider this line from the speech.

    "As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat."

    This sounds as if, unlike Nixon in 1973, Obama has no intention of allowing the U.S. to help Israel survive.

  9. Why Now, Why Israel? Because the timing is propitious, not only in the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, but also it explains the abrupt resignation of George Mitchell as the Middle Eastern envoy for the Obama Administration.

    Notice that right after the operation in Abbottabad, Obama's flaks were out there scrambling around hawking stories about him renewing his opening to the Muslim community worldwide, the ummah . . . lest we forget that he is at heart a community organizer!

    As noted in that WSJ article, part of his strategy was "making the case that bin Laden represented a failed approach of the past while populist movements brewing in the Middle East and North Africa represent the future."

    Obama apparently felt he also needed desperately to do something concrete to make up for the killing of UBL, and what better way than throwing Israel under the bus in Middle East negotiations?

    How else can one view a step which seemingly "rewards" the Palestinian side in the negotiations so soon after they had taken the unseemly step of hugging up to a terrorist organization like Hamas?

    Make no mistake, this was a step Obama and his guru Samantha Power have wanted to undertake for a long time. But this became the "right" time because of other events.

    One of his very first appointments on taking office was George Mitchell as the Middle Eastern envoy, and last week Mitchell resigned effective as of today.

    Mitchell is a man who has never before walked away from intractable negotiations, yet he suddenly take a hike! Knowing that this was coming, however, it is not hard to understand what informed George Mitchell's decision. He was put in an impossible position.

    The level of diplomacy at which Mitchell has come to operate, suggests there may have been was an initial agreement between he and the President that Obama would not unilaterally throw a monkey wrench into the works without Mitchell having the option of leaving. He knew where Samantha Power wanted to head when he took the job, and it would have been a natural inclination on his part to assure he enjoyed at least a degree of autonomy in the conduct of negotiations -- probably direct access to Obama.

    Can you imagine being in George Mitchell's shoes, and thinking about trying to go back to negotiations and retain your credibility with all the parties after something like this from your principal?

    Hardly! So, he left.

    The question now is, will we now see any kind of reaction from Hillary Clinton? There will be many , many Democrats who will argue that Obama has just crossed the line with this move.

    Will she be one of them?

  10. Maybe Netanyahu should order the Israeli military to shoot hundreds of Palestinians dead in the streets al la al-Assad to be considered a "reformer" by this administration and the "international community."

    Go for the international faculty lounges' sympathies, Bibi!!

    And while you're visiting, show a little class and give a speech aimed at the aggrieved La Raza crowd about the need to return to historical borders.

  11. Professor, I'm not sure I agree with the 'his ego made him do it'. I think he has much more nefarious intentions that include the destruction of Israel. Should Israel be attacked he wouldn't lift a hand to help. They are on their own.

  12. What about the dual arguments now making the rounds (and I ask because I don't recall specifically Bush doing this, nor am I an expert on this region) that:

    A) The 1967 borders were well-defended then, and can so be again..and that..

    B) The Obama plan is not significantly different from that previously proposed by GWBush...

    Just curious...

  13. Professor, you are a good man, but sadly, you cannot see the nefarious intentions of others. Obama has no desire, or intention, of supporting Israel, under any conditions. That was clear by his "by themselves" statement.

    What Obama has asked of Israel is to, once again, make all the concessions on the hope that the Palestinians will do the same. It ain't gonna happen. The Palestinians know they have a large segment of the U.S. press on their side, those in the press that represent Israel as the oppressor, and they are going to do all they can to make sure that the end of Israel is on the horizon.

    Look at Gaza; how did that work out? Israel gave concessions, the people of Gaza fired rockets into Israeli neighborhoods. Some pay back. And where are the honest reports on the Gaza Strip? How many people know that a fancy new shopping mall that would be the envy of most U.S. cities was built in Gaza?

    Some of us have taken the time to research the history of Palestine. It was NEVER a "nation" but only a region, ruled by many, including the Romans, but there was never an Arab homeland in Palestine. Yet, there was a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Right of return? Seems that the Palestinians want a right of return but only as far back as is in their favor.

    Ask yourself this; why has Obama pretty much ended the relationship between the U.S. and European nations? Why is he concentrating on the Middle East that has been a hot box of violence for centuries? Is it really just his ego that makes him think he can accomplish what no other American president has been able to do, peace in the ME? I don't think so. I think Obama has a hatred for Israel, and Jews, that is rampant. You don't sit in the pew of a pastor for 20 years that preaches Jew hatred without agreeing with that pastor.

    The ramifications of Obama's Middle East policies will be felt by Americans for generation. The Islamists feel emboldened because they think they have a "weak horse" in the Oval Office who will not support Israel.

    Unfortunately, unless the American Jewish community starts speaking out, letting Obama know that he no longer have their support, money, campaign donations, he will continue with this destructive course.

  14. Prof, I mostly lurk, but I thought you & your readers might enjoy my take on BHO's speech yesterday from the non-obot left pov:

  15. "Obama wants to accomplish what no other person has been able to achieve, Arab acceptance of Israel as a permanent Jewish state in the midst of a sea of Muslim nations."

    I'm sorry, I cannot agree. I'm from the Left. Israel is a profound bete noir for Left and its destruction has been a prized Leftist goal for generations. Obama, having sat in the pews of a radical anti-Semitic cleric his entire adult life (among many other associations with anti-Israel radicals) is simply going about in a clever and steady way.







  17. Would some connect the dots for me - in a coherent and reasoned manner if you please - as to how any argument for letting Israel defend itself....which it most surely can, translates into 'hating Israel'?

  18. @Wakefield Tolbert at May 20, 2011 10:52 AM . . . . re the first half of your inquiry:

    As for,

    A) The 1967 borders were well-defended then, and can so be again..

    I guess the basic factor undermining this risible bromide is that the situation beyond the borders is not anywhere near the same as it was back then.

    With highly armed terrorist organizations in the ascendancy in The Lebanon, who ate devoted to the destruction of Israel and who are literally champing at the bit to initiate open hostilities, and given the ease with which they could engage in firing bomb-tipped missiles into populated areas of Israel, the defense of the '67 borders would, in my view, actually be more difficult today than it was back then.

    Negotiating with the Palestinians is really not any kind of guarantor of peace or security for Israel, when you think of the extent to which terror organizations within The Lebanon and Syria are really proxy fighters for Iran, and for other intractable parties, none of which are at the table.

    This American attempt to unilaterally impose these as a condition precedent to moving forward, which is aimed at just one of the parties -- our ally, Israel -- is not just dangerous; it also appears to be in large measure a sop to the radical leftists in his base of support, and not a condition that will increase the likelihood of reaching a workable peace agreement.

    Prior to the '67 conflict, the Arabs believed that the borders made Israel vulnerable. They were wrong, but they believed it. Given the changed circumstances on the ground beyond the borders, the imposition of those borders as a condition in the negotiations could well act as a provocation to further hostilities.

    Also, I cannot fathom the circumstances that would prompt Israel to give up, among other things, a military capacity in the Golan Heights, which would open the door to both Syrian, and Iranian proxy hostility. They need to be able to be able to do this at the drop of a hat.

  19. @votermom . . . I especially appreciated your "side-by-side" photos of Barry and Bibi in their 20s.

    Heh. Good one!

  20. Why now? Perhaps because an Arab Spring started and is still unfolding. So far, 2½ regime changes have occurred just this year.

    Why Israel? The speech was on the Middle East, and Israel-Palestine happens to be in the middle of the Middle East. You can't discuss Palestine without discussing Israel.

  21. correction in my comment above . . .

    -- who are devoted -- (not "ate")

    and, remove one "to be able" in the final sentence.

    @The Constitutional Insurgent I'm not one to say that the phrase in his speech referring to the "argument for letting Israel defend itself" was evidence of a hatred of Israel.

    But I must say that the specific comment in his speech, combined with the emphasis Obama placed on that phrase "by itself" sounded very curious indeed to me when I heard him say it.

    Here was the context:

    "As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat."

    That phrase could easily be interpreted in several ways, including, but not limited to:

    "If you don't do things my way, Bibi, you're going to be on your own, get it?"


    "We are hereby eschewing any notion, going forward, that the United States will be a 'guarantor' of Israeli security in any sense. We will not step forward militarily to protect Israel if she is attacked."

    Frankly, I don't know why he put it that way, but it was confusing.

    My overall sense of the speech was that, regardless of expressed United States concerns about the Fatah/Hamas accord, somehow it is Israel that must now make a huge concession as a condition precedent to going forward bu accepting the pre-'67 borders as a best case scenario!

    In his speech, Obama said this:

    "In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question."

    Everything was fine . . . until he got to that final sentence! It is a flight of fancy. It assumes that Palestinian leaders could possibly come up with any answer other than the known fact that that they are ultimately devoted to the destruction of Israel, along with their new best friends in Hamas.

    So, why wouldn't he also make that issue a condition precedent to going forward -- a demand that there be an unequivocal statement from the Palestinian leadership regarding their acceptance of Israel's right to exist?

    Instead, his bottom line was that the borders are now no longer a matter of negotiation -- the pre-67 borders are now "it" from the point of view of the US.

  22. "Also, I cannot fathom the circumstances that would prompt Israel to give up, among other things, a military capacity in the Golan Heights, which would open the door to both Syrian, and Iranian proxy hostility. "

    Isn't water also a factor in holding the Golan? Water everywhere, and especially the ME, is the most precious resource after light and air.

    Interesting the multiple comments chiding the Professor for avoiding an ascription of evil to motivations inside the subject at hand. If economics is building up and out (expansion), evil is tearing down and in (contraction). There's been a lot of tearing down and in since this subject came on the public stage, even apparently since its childhood, and its success and rate of advance since 20JAN09 is breath-taking. If this be not evil I know not what is.

    Evil has a use, and wisdom and experience advise trust in its regulation by providence, universal structure. Yet it remains evil and deserves ascription as such and, as felt needful, opposition and defeat. (Evil cannot be annihilated.)

    And why not ask Qui bono? As in the ME. Who benefits from this newly overt, un-American, contractive, long-visible, long-intended policy by an administration said to represent the United States? It's the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies there and around the world, including in the USA. That would make the head of this administration an MB ally. The MB promotes itself as the representative of democracy in the ME and everywhere. "Islam is the true democratic government." And the head of this administration states the new policy is to encourage democracy in the ME. Hamas is a democratically elected tyranny. So was Nazi Germany. All communists have the word "democratic" in their entity names. And idiots claim he's following GWB's freedom agenda? No way. He's not talking about freedom. He's talking about MB-driven "Islam democracy." He's supporting the Muslim Brotherhood more and more overtly as time rolls on. And as one commenter notes, throwing a bone to his academic/oligarch/communist base, whose hate of Israel he shares. Lies. But start with Qui bono? and the tracking isn't difficult. Also remember that MB ideology at inception and continuing marked its affinity with socialism of both Nazi and Soviet varieties. Socialism is misdirection for oligarchic tyranny. And lots of sex, the tyrannical kind, as the world has just been reminded.

    I think the loyal leader cadre in the USA is still a long way from grasping the context and the content of the crisis overwhelming the world and the USA combined. Or, that cadre is aware of the truth but conceptually stumped by its ferocity and tongue-tied by its enormity. I think it's mostly the latter, actually. Certainly I would never fault the Professor, who is among the fairest men I have observed.

    Well, not to worry. Men and women rise to the challenges presented them. This fact evil never gets through his/her head. In fact, evil depends on men and women rising to challenges just as non-being depends on being: no does not exist apart from yes. Yes (being), however, is self-existent and therein lies its ultimacy. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world.

  23. "More than a hatred of Israel, Obama simply doesn't feel the historical, religious, and emotional connection to Israel felt by a majority of Americans. Much as the unique British-American relationship was cast aside, so too the special Israeli-American relationship is secondary to a greater goal."


    That's been the problem with Obama all along. He does not share our Americanness, and talk as he might about "our values," he doesn't get them, never has, never will. It's not ego, it's a combination of his upbringing and his indoctrination in far left lunacy that disparages, loathes, and actively seeks to destroy America and all she really stands for. And that absolutely includes all of our ties will our historical allies.

    Does he know that he's not speaking for the majority of Americans or acting in our best interests? Who really cares? He's not. That's the part that actually matters. We have to win in 2012 or we will literally lose the America we hold dear. We can repair four years of un- and anti-American policies, maybe even eight here at home, but we'll never repair 8 years of foreign relations. Reelecting that man is a statement to the world that we approve of his foreign policy, and that will not be forgiven or forgotten.

  24. Hey fancy that . . . some guy named William Jacobson at a blog named Legal Insurrection got some lead "ink" in an article posted on Yahoo in This Week about reaction to the President's speech.

    (ps -- Sorry if I'm late to the party on this one, but I just came across it.)

  25. @Trochilus, isn't it a great pair of pix? I can't claim credit, though, it's from this website, which I came across while looking at reactions to the speech.

  26. I'm inclined to think this is part of his "outreach" to our enemies coupled with crass self-interest. Syria is on fire. The rest of the region borders on chaos. The purported Arab Spring has been nothing but headaches for the administration. Obama looked horrible on Egypt, and has gotten himself stuck in quicksand in Libya. And after his Libyan proclamations, even the libs I know are questioning why its okay to attack them while ignoring Syria as it does the exact same things.

    So what better way to show Assad what a stand up guy you are and take the focus off his massacres (and your incoherent policy of ignoring them) than to stir things up with Israel? Getting to kick the Jews in the process is just sugar on top.

  27. "The Week" that is (The Week dot com) . . . here's the original post entitled, "Did Obama's Mideast speech crush hopes for peace?" that was republished on Yahoo at the link posted in my earlier comment, above in this thread.

    And, you've got to love the second subtitle!

    Here it is:

    "Best Opinion: Legal Insurrection, Foreign Policy, NY Times"

    Whoa, pretty heady company you beat out for the top slot, there Bill!

  28. The Arabs, being the cunning, conniving, back-stabbing political creatures that they have become, are more wary of assuming Israel would be weaker just because the U.S. President seems to have withdrawn his 'support' (what little he has demonstrated).

    They are most keenly aware of the overwhelming support Israel has from the PEOPLE of the U.S. Though they might make some military progress due to Obama's refusal to aid Israel in any conflict, that would be offset by the PR catastrophe that would follow AND the U.S. Congress would not allow that refusal to last very long.

    I don't have the time or energy to protest much but if the U.S. allows Israel to be attacked and does not send aid, then MY VOICE will be raised in protest against such cowardly and stupid behavior and I believe many others will also.

    Obama eliminate any chance at a win in 2012 and would rend the Democrat Party with such a refusal. He knows it.

    He's just make noises to give his Lapdog Media Hounds a chance to make noises to drown out the rising calls of disdain and dismay at his missteps, stupidity, arrogance and possible disqualification to BE President.

    He is not INTELLECTUAL but he is CLEVER. Like a South State Street hustler trying to sell some rube a scam, he keeps trying to sucker one more group, one more time on how they should support him (remember those anonymous overseas donations in 2008? Where do you think most of them came from?). When those hustlers/pimps become too well known they have to move on and/or change the scam or the 'patter' as their targets have become 'hip' to their 'jive'.

    Obama: our First Jive--- President.