Obama’s great gift to the Palestinians
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.