Obama’s great gift to the Pales­tini­ans

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - Opin­ion by Wes­ley Pru­den

Barack Obama to Is­rael: Drop dead. He an­nounced May 19 that a Pales­tinian state, soon to be de­creed by the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly, must be drawn to 1967 borders. This tells the Pales­tini­ans and their Arab al­lies and en­ablers that events do not have to have con­se­quences.

We’re not sup­posed to re­mem­ber that the Arab states at­tacked Is­rael in 1967 (and again in 1973), bet­ting they could crush the Jews and take the looted land. In­stead they were them­selves squashed like bugs. Their air­men were shot out of the skies and their sol­diers, routed, threw away their shoes in the desert and ran in panic look­ing for some­where to hide, like Mr. Lin­coln’s army flee­ing Manas­sas. The losers have been de­mand­ing a mul­li­gan ever since, and now Barack Obama has of­fered them one.

In­sult was added to in­jury when the pres­i­dent, in what the White House called “a ma­jor speech,” an­nounced his be­trayal of Is­rael on the eve of the ar­rival in Wash­ing­ton of Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu. Un­til now, Wash­ing­ton had in­sisted that Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans should ne­go­ti­ate their borders. Mr. Obama has changed the rules, moved the goal­post and, for good mea­sure, tilted the play­ing field against the Jews. Agree­ment first, then the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Mr. Obama chose the State Depart­ment to an­nounce what he called “a new chap­ter in Amer­i­can diplo­macy,” that “it will be the pol­icy of the United States to pro­mote re­form and sup­port tran­si­tions to democ­racy.” Amer­ica’s fu­ture, he said, will be bound to the Mid­dle East by forces of eco­nom­ics, se­cu­rity, his­tory and fate. He could have said, but didn’t be­cause he dared not, that this could be a Mid­dle East with­out Is­rael.

In the months ahead, he said, he would use Amer­i­can re­sources to en­cour­age re­form, be­gin­ning with for­giv­ing a bil­lion-dol­lar Egyp­tian debt; urge Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad to lead Syrian tran­si­tion to democ­racy “or get out of the way,” in­sist that the Ira­nian peo­ple de­serve their uni­ver­sal rights and a gov­ern­ment that does not smother their as­pi­ra­tions. He stopped short of promis­ing to cure ath­lete’s foot.

“What Amer­ica and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity can do is state frankly what ev­ery­one knows,” the pres­i­dent said, “that a last­ing peace will in­volve two states for two peo­ples.” What some of the rest of us can do is state frankly what ev­ery­one also knows, that “the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity” is now joined openly — for the first time — by an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent who will try to force Is­rael to ac­cept sur­ren­der on Pales­tinian terms. The Arabs would get what they want, a bet­ter stage to launch rock­ets and in­va­sions, and give up only cheap prom­ises that no one would ex­pect them to keep.

Mr. Obama de­scribed the State Depart­ment as “a fit­ting venue” to an­nounce this gift to the Pales­tini­ans, and he’s right about that. The State Depart­ment has been the lo­cus of anti-Is­rael — and anti-Jewish — sen­ti­ment since long be­fore Sec­re­tary of State Ge­orge C. Mar­shall sulked and pouted through the Cabi­net ses­sions lead­ing up to the recog­ni­tion of the Jewish state in 1948. Mr. Mar­shall threat­ened to re­sign if Pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man ac­corded recog­ni­tion, fi­nally agree­ing, re­luc­tantly, to stay in his job only as a cour­tesy to the pres­i­dent. The Foggy Bot­tom es­tab­lish­ment has never quit sulk­ing since, pa­tiently wait­ing for the op­por­tu­nity to ex­act re­venge. Fi­nally, the Foggy Bot­tom wise men have a friendly pres­i­dent at their back.

Mr. Obama, re­mind­ing ev­ery­one of his brav­ery and ef­fi­ciency at Ab­bot­tabad (with as­sis­tance from the Navy SEALs), said that “by the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast ma­jor­ity of the re­gion as a dead end, and the peo­ple of the Mid­dle East and North Africa had taken their fu­ture in their own hands.” Of course, that’s not true, ei­ther. If it were, there would be scant need for vast new out­lays of Amer­i­can aid to se­cure an Is­lamic “fu­ture.”

Mr. Obama’s speech, pro­moted by the White House as some­thing like James Mon­roe declar­ing his doc­trine, or FDR declar­ing free­dom from fear, will be re­mem­bered, if re­mem­bered at all, for Barack Obama’s fi­nally lay­ing bare his con­tempt for democ­racy’s only true friend in the Mid­dle East. With con­fi­dence in his abil­ity to mol­lify aban­doned friends with the sound of his voice, he sched­uled a week­end of in­ex­pen­sive rhetoric. Af­ter meet­ing for tea and talk with Mr. Ne­tanyahu, he was to ad­dress the Amer­i­can Is­raeli Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee on May 22. But the deed, ’tis done.

Wes­ley Pru­den is edi­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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