Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Obama anti-Israel?

That Obama is carrying on Bush’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan seems unquestionable. One pundit entitles his article to this effect, “Barack Obama, Neocon?” [From ]

But Obama’s foreign policy diverges from Bush’s notably on the matter of Israel. This same pundit writes,

“But it is the last section of Obama's speech that is drawing the most attention. He called on Israel to accept withdrawal to its 1967 borders as a precursor to "peace" negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas:

[From Obama’s speech] The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself.

I'm not sure how this is an argument for Israeli withdrawal.

[From Obama’s speech] “The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. ...

“These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met.

Under Obama's formula, the Palestinians would begin negotiations "knowing" that their territory will include, among other things, the entire Temple Mount, including the Western Wall. Obama can't seriously believe that Israel would accept this as a starting point (or ending point) of negotiations.

It gets worse from there:

[From Obama’s speech] I'm aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

So in Obama's view, the "right of return" is on the table, and it is incumbent on Israel to make further concessions, on top of acceptance of the 1967 borders--correctly labeled "indefensible" by Prime Minister Netanyahu--if it wishes to continue to exist.

Others will have more profound observations on Obama's seemingly gratuitous change in America's policy toward Israel. For the moment, let me just note this: as with Obamacare and a number of other issues, Obama evidently is acting from conviction, not political calculation. The Mearsheimer/Walt hypothesis, widely accepted on the Left, is that the Israeli lobby exerts a sinister influence on American foreign policy. The truth, however, is that the American people overwhelmingly side with Israel, for reasons that do not need to be explained to our readers. It is shared conviction and culture, not lobbying, that accounts for America's traditionally pro-Israel policy.

Obama will not gain politically by sabotaging Israel; on the contrary. He must know that his re-election is in grave jeopardy, and going out of his way to put his administration at odds with Israel will hurt, not help, his chances. So one can only conclude that Obama is genuinely, as a matter of philosophical conviction, anti-Israel.

COMMENT: I agree in part with this writer. But Americans sympathize with Israel for more than one reason. My reason is that they are a Western nation and I would hate to see any Western nation bullied out of existence by militant Islam.

Another reason is that Christian Fundamentalism is predominately ‘Dispensational’ which embraces an eschatological perspective hinging on Israel “staying in the land.” If those of who support Israel because it is of the West are not vocal enough, the Dispensationalists are sure to be.

However, while a withdrawal to Israel’s 1967 borders sounds alarming and absurd to those who have followed the history of Israel, it may not mean that much to the average voter; so if this writers prediction that this speech, at least the part about Israel, will harm Obama politically; someone is going to have to put this matter in different terms. From my standpoint if a nation invades my country and loses, and the cease fire occurs well inside his former territory, I am under no obligation to give back all his land. I may give back most of it, but I may keep enough “high ground” to discourage his invading me again.

From the Dispensationalists standpoint, they are not going to want to give back the temple mount.

From Israel’s standpoint, if returning to the 1967 borders could get Palestine to agree to a two-state solution, including the moving of the Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian state, while retaining Jewish access to the holy places outside this border, then Israel would probably go for it.

No doubt it depends on how this plays out politically. If the voting public becomes convinced that Obama is anti-Israel, this could count against him – even if Israel itself isn’t terribly offended by what Obama has said. 

1 comment:

susan helm said...

I would be shocked if Israel were to "go for it."