The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The echos of Barack Obama’s Middle East speech continue unabated. His stated position, although strongly supported by many in the Western Left and much of his beloved “international community,” is counter to American interests, historically tone-deaf, and completely devoid of any connection with the realities on the ground. Richard Fernandez comments on the “asymmetry” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
There was a certain asymmetry in the confrontation that often went unremarked. Israel was the world’s only Jewish state while the Palestinians were part of a larger community in the region, some would say indistinguishable from it. Israel’s existence was its all-in-all. On the other the hand, the Palestinian state was in the final analysis, optional to the Arabs in the region as a whole. Israel non-negotiably needed to live. Palestine’s nonnegotiable demand was that Israel needed to die.

What Barack Obama refuses to acknowledge is that the “Palestinian people” did not exist as a named entity prior to 1948. They were, and they remain, part of the 100 million Arabs that inhabit the entire Middle East. There was never a Palestinian monarch, never a Palestinian legislature, never a Palestinian President, never a Palestinian flag … so how can there be “Palestinian” refugees? The answer is that the surrounding countries have refused to absorb the “Palestinians.”

Jennifer Rubin comments on the refugee problem that the President seems unwilling to address directly by quoting the inimitable Alan Dershowitz:
Any proposed peace agreement will require the Palestinians to give up the so-called right of return, which is designed not for family reunification, but rather to turn Israel into another Palestinian state with an Arab majority. As all reasonable people know, the right of return is a non-starter. It is used as a “card” by the Palestinian leadership who fully understand that they will have to give it up if they want real peace. The Israelis also know that they will have to end their occupation of most of the West Bank (as they ended their occupation of Gaza) if they want real peace. Obama’s mistake was to insist that Israel give up its card without demanding that the Palestinians give up theirs.

Obama’s mistake is a continuation of a serious mistake he made early in his administration. That first mistake was to demand that Israel freeze all settlements. The Palestinian Authority had not demanded that as a condition to negotiations. But once the President of the United States issued such a demand, the Palestinian leadership could not be seen by its followers as being less Palestinian than the President. In other words, President Obama made it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to be reasonable. Most objective observers now recognize Obama’s serious mistake in this regard. What is shocking is that he has done it again. By demanding that Israel surrender all the territories it captured in the 1967 war (subject only to land swaps) without insisting that the Palestinians surrender their right of return, the President has gone further than Palestinian negotiators had during various prior negotiations. This makes it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to be reasonable in their negotiations with the Israelis.

Dershowitz is shocked that the President has repeated the same foreign mistake yet again. I’m not. The President is an inexperienced leader who takes advice from ideologically-driven advisors who believe that the “oppressed” Palestinians have rights that are non-existent in international law. In the fantasy world of Obama’s advisors, Palestinian Arab “refugees” and Jews can live side-by-side inside a post-modern Israel. They have neither the time nor the inclination to worry about Israel’s right to exist—in fact, I suspect that many of the President’s advisors such as Samantha Powers and possibly Susan Rice, aren’t convinced that Israel should continue to exist in its current state. If they and the President believed otherwise, they wouldn’t have thrown Israel under the bus.

Update 5/21/11
Richard Fernandez provides the following summary of the real problem (as opposed to Obama's fantasy viewpoint):
The key thing to remember is that Middle Eastern politics is about one faction imposing control over another faction. The Jews are but one of several minorities in the Middle East. But the Copts, the Druze, the Maronites and the sundry others are substantially in the same boat. President Obama isn’t doing anything to Israel he hasn’t already done to Lebanon. See where that got him?

Policy has fed the Levant to Syria in the hopes of peeling it off Iran and it has had failed. You can’t buy off the wolf. [a piece of wisdom that seems to elude the President]. It just makes them hungrier. Every minority is fair game. Even the Palestinians. Remember Black September? Done by Jordan, revenged on Israel.

Minorities are there to beat on . The worse things become in Egypt the more the Copts will be blamed. The harder the factional fighting in Iraq, the more the Christians will be bombed. The worse things are for Islamic states in the region, the more the Jew will be hated. Because the basic political idea in the region is to find someone to focus hate upon to divert the attention from the real problem. You are to blame because you either accept the blame or cannot refuse it. It has nothing to do with actual culpability.

But scapegoating doesn’t work in the long run. That’s why Obama’s ploy is doomed. Forcing Israel back to the 1967 boundaries does nothing to fix the dysfunction of the region. It is as irrelevant as astrology is to the stock market.