Obama’s Middle East Blunder

Last week, I read the news coverage of President Obama’s major address on the Middle East with great interest.  That turned to anger pretty quickly, though, when I read Obama’s demand that Israel must accept the 1967 borders as the basis for a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

This whole mess is a hairy issue, one that’s defied the world’s best minds and many attempts to solve.  I’m obviously not going to solve it here.  But Obama displayed a stunning lack of understanding of Israel’s position in the Middle East.

Israel is a little country, right up against the Mediterranean Sea.  There’s no place to go if they’re overrun, which makes the president’s suggestion that Israel go back to the 1967 borders offensive and unpractical.

Doesn’t Obama understand that the region has changed quite a lot since 1967?  Doesn’t he realize how close that border is to Tel Aviv?  Doesn’t Obama realize that Israel absolutely has to have defensive buffers in order to ensure its survival?  Doesn’t he realize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and always will be?  Doesn’t Obama realize that Israelis on its own, literally surrounded by people who want the Jewish state wiped from the earth?  Doesn’t Obama realize that if Israel falls, the Jewish people will – within a few generations – cease to exist?

Apparently not.  Or he doesn’t care, which is worse.

In any case, as Dana Milbank points out today, he’s driven Israeli moderates toward Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s more hard-line camp.  That’s a colossal blunder.

Obama needs people like Milbank’s au pair – the moderates who see both the Israeli and Palestinian side to the whole question.  There’s no question that the Palestinians also deserve to have a chance to survive.   But that can’t come at the expense of Israel and the Jewish people.

There are more Jews in Israel now than there are in the United States.  (Yes, this article is from 1998, but it is illustrative.) And the Jewish population in the United States is in decline.  The Nazis did quite an efficient job of wiping out the Jews in Europe; the Jews in Europe will never recover from that.  So what’s left? Israel.  There will never be another Jewish Diaspora.  There simply isn’t enough Jews left.

Those are the stakes for the Jewish people — existence.  Is it any wonder that Israel is reticent when it comes to giving up land for peace?  And making a bargain with Fatah and its alliance with Hamas?

Something needs to give.  That’s for sure.  But asking Israel to bet its very survival on making a deal with the people who want it gone, and giving up its defensive buffers is asking too much.  Netanyahu gets this.  It’s a pity that Obama doesn’t seem to.

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12 comments
  1. Vadim said:

    Very good article. Obama’s policy is based on ideology. By that i mean ideas as opposed to facts.

  2. Alan said:

    Boy this is a sticky subject. If you suggest that Israel is wrong in any way, you are accused of being anti-Semitic. How about we go back to the 1947 borders? There weren’t any, because it was Palestine then. Imagine if a huge population of native Americans decided to move into New Mexico to the point where they became the majority, and then declared New Mexico to be an independent country. Imagine if they then started building settlements on land claimed by European Americans without restitution. Maybe even expand over into Arizona and Texas.

    At least Native Americans have a more recent claim to that land. Israel is based upon a iffy source, the old testament. I think Israel has quite enough fire power to defend itself. We have given them billions of dollars and they have bought the best weapons they could from us. In addition they have nuclear weapons (Shhhh).

    I know I’m going to get called names and told how wrong I am. I’ve read the history of Israel/Palestine, and not just the Israeli version.

    • Deanna said:

      I’m not going to call you names for saying that Israel is wrong in some ways. It’s clear that they are sometimes.

      This is indeed a sticky subject. I’m an Israel supporter. Not only because I’m Jewish. But I think Palestinians need to be treated well, too. But Obama ticked me off with his 1967 borders comment.

      • Alan said:

        Obama calling for the 1967 borders as a starting point in peace talks, is nothing new. GW Bush did it, Clinton did it. I always treat the media reports surrounding anything to do with Israel with skepticism, because of the intense propaganda put out by our government, the Israeli lobby, and the media itself.

        If any place should have been made the Jewish Homeland after WWII, it should have been a large chunk of Germany.

      • Deanna said:

        Take a look at Krauthammer’s column today. (He normally ticks me off. But Israel is one topic on which I agree with him.)

  3. Wayne Perram said:

    Alan, your history seems to be a little lame. If you consider the “iffy” Old Testament, perhaps your eyes will allow you to view Wall of the Temple that still remains? That’s from 70AD, which predates Islam by 600 years. Jews have resided on that piece of real estate for at least 3000 years, and only Jew haters dispute that – it’s easily provable from antiquity.

    George Bush did not ask Israel to revert to her ’67 borders. That’s a myth. In fact, he called Jerusalem the capital of Israel which infuriated the middle east.

    It’s clear Obama is a Muslim sympathizer – who hung out in a church for 20 years with a rabid Jew hating preacher, closely affiliated Louie Farrakhan. That too is undeniable.

    Perhaps it is you that doesn’t get it.

    • Alan said:

      Okay Wayne, I’m a Jew Hater. I never thought I was, but you opened my eyes. I thought I just considered Israel to be unfair to the people who lived there before a bunch of Jews from Brooklyn, the Bronx, and war torn Europe moved there. So who lived in ‘Israel’ before Moses showed a few thousand people his promised land? It was totally empty? I don’t hate Jews, I just consider this god you Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship to be a real asshole, and a troublemaker.

      • Deanna said:

        I certainly picked quite a topic, didn’t I? Israel has its faults. So does the United States. But Israel has the right to exist, as the Jewish homeland. Jews are very connected to Israel. Disagreeing with something Israel does doesn’t make one anti Semitic. Israel will endure. But some peace will have to happen.

      • Alan said:

        Obviously Israel isn’t going away. 1967 is 44 years ago, and a lot has changed, but not Israel’s policy towards the lands they conquered and occupied. Even the three countries that provoked the war, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan aren’t much concerned with the welfare of the Palestinians any more. They have their own problems. It’s time for Israel to back off from being so aggressive or peace will never come to that place.

        By the way, I was amused that I called god an asshole and troublemaker without any blowback. Suggest Israel is wrong, and look out.

        Is there a post on wienergate coming up soon?

      • Tell you what’s the real bummer for you Alan. There’s still a hell and you’re still going there. And what will really baked your noodle for a very long time is when you realize you’re the one that put yourself there. :wink:

        Your own death is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow. No need for blow back, as your future already written.

      • Alan said:

        Hell, where all the cool people will be.

  4. Deanna said:

    A post on Weiner gate? That one should write itself (and maybe it will later today or tomorrow). What an absolute idiot.

    We’ll see about the Middle East. Israel needs to do something different, that’s true, But so do the Palestinians. Until rockets from Hamas and Hezbollah stop falling in Israeli neighborhoods, it’s pretty difficult to ask Israel to back off too much.

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