In the aftermath of US President Barack Obama’s May 19 speech on the Middle
East, his supporters argued that the policy toward Israel and the Palestinians
that Obama outlined in that speech was not anti-Israel. As they presented it,
Obama’s assertion that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
must be based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps does not mark a substantive
departure from the positions adopted by his predecessors in the Oval
But this claim is exposed as a lie by previous administration
statements. On November 25, 2009, in response to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s acceptance of Obama’s demand for a 10-month moratorium on Jewish
property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the State Department issued the
following statement: “Today’s announcement by the Government of Israel helps
move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on
an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an
independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the
Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect
subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
speech, Obama stated: “The United States believes... 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.”
he took “the Palestinian goal” and made it the US’s goal. It is hard to imagine
a more radically anti-Israel policy shift than that.
And that wasn’t
Obama’s only radically anti-Israel policy shift. Until his May 19 speech, the US
agreed with Israel that the issue of borders is only one of many – including the
Palestinians’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist, their demand to inundate
Israel with millions of foreign Arab immigrants, their demand for control over
Israel’s water supply and Jerusalem – that have to be sorted out in
negotiations. The joint US-Israeli position was that until all of these issues
were resolved, none of them were resolved.
The Palestinians, on the other
hand, claim that before they will discuss any of these other issues, Israel has
to first agree to accept the indefensible 1967 boundaries as its permanent
borders. This position allows the Palestinians to essentially maintain their
policy of demanding that Israel make unreciprocated concessions that then serve
as the starting point for further unreciprocated concessions.
It is a
position that is antithetical to peace. And on May 19, by stipulating that
Israel must accept the Palestinian position on borders as a precondition for
negotiations, Obama adopted it as US policy.
SINCE THAT speech, Obama has
taken a series of steps that only reinforce the sense that he is the most
hostile US president Israel has ever faced. Indeed, when taken together, these
steps raise concern that Obama may actually constitute a grave threat to
Friday’s Yediot Aharonot reported on the dimensions of the threat
Obama may pose to the Jewish state. The paper’s account was based on
administration and Congressional sources. The story discussed Obama’s plans to
contend with the Palestinian plan to pass a resolution at the UN General
Assembly in September endorsing Palestinian statehood in Jerusalem, Judea,
Samaria and Gaza.
According to Yediot, during his meeting with Obama on
May 20, Netanyahu argued that in light of the Palestinians’ automatic majority
support at the General Assembly, there was no way to avoid the
Netanyahu reportedly explained that the move would not be a
disaster. The General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed the PLO’s declaration of
independence in 1988.
And the sky still hasn’t fallen.
reportedly was unconvinced. For him, it is unacceptable to be in a position of
standing alone with Israel voting against the Palestinian resolution. Obama’s
distaste for standing with Israel was demonstrated in February when a visibly
frustrated US Ambassador Susan Rice was forced by Congressional pressure to veto
the Palestinians’ Security Council draft resolution condemning Israel for
refusing to prohibit Jews from building in Jerusalem, Judea and
Yediot’s report asserts that Obama refused to brief Netanyahu on
the steps his administration is taking to avert such an unpalatable option. What
the paper did report was how George Mitchell – Obama’s Middle East envoy until
his resignation last week – recommended Obama proceed on this
According to Yediot, Mitchell recommended that Obama work with the
Europeans to draft a series of anti-Israel resolutions for the UN Security
Council to pass. Among other things, these resolutions, which Mitchell said
would be “painful for Israel,” would include an assertion that Jewish building
in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria is illegal.
That is, Mitchell recommended
that Obama adopt as US policy at the Security Council past Palestinian demands
that Congress forced Obama to reject just months ago at the Security Council.
The notion is that by doing so, Obama could convince the Palestinians to water
down the even more radically anti-Israel positions they are advancing today at
the UN General Assembly that Congressional pressure prevents him from
Since General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight and
Security Council resolutions do carry weight, Mitchell’s policy represents the
most anti-Israel policy ever raised by a senior US official. Unfortunately
Obama’s actions since last week suggest that he has adopted the gist of
Mitchell’s policy recommendations.
First there was his speech before
AIPAC. Among other things, Obama used the international campaign to
delegitimize Israel’s right to exist as a justification for his policies of
demanding that Israel capitulate to the Palestinians’ demands, which he has now
officially adopted as US policy.
As he put it, “there is a reason why the
Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize
that there is an impatience with the peace process – or the absence of one. Not
just in the Arab world, but in Latin America, in Europe, and in
Asia. That impatience is growing, and is already manifesting itself in
capitals around the world.”
From AIPAC, Obama moved on to
Europe. There he joined forces with European governments in an attempt to
gang up on Israel at the G8 meeting.
Obama sought to turn his embrace of
the Palestinian negotiating position into the consensus position of the G8. His
move was scuttled by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who refused to
accept any resolution that made mention of borders without mentioning the
Palestinian demand to destroy Israel through Arab immigration, Israel’s right to
defensible borders, or the Palestinians’ refusal to accept Israel’s right to
If Harper had not stood by Israel, the G8’s anti-Israel resolution
endorsing the Palestinian negotiating position could have formed the basis of a
US-sponsored anti-Israel Security Council resolution.
their summer trips should put Canada at the top of their lists.
step Obama has taken to solidify the impression that he does not have Israel’s
best interests at heart, is actually something he has not done. Over the past
week, Fatah leaders of the US-backed Palestinian Authority have made a series of
statements that put paid any thought that they are interested in peace with
Israel or differ substantively from their partners in Hamas.
At the Arab
League meeting in Qatar on Saturday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the
Palestinian state “will be free of all Jews.”
Last week the US-supported
Abbas denied the Jewish connection to the land of Israel and claimed absurdly
that the Palestinians were 9,000 years old.
Equally incriminating, in an
interview last week with Aaron Lerner from the IMRA newsgathering website,
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said that now that Hamas was the co-leader
of the PA with Fatah, responsibility for continuing to hold IDF St.-Sgt. Gilad
Schalit hostage devolved from Hamas to the PA. And the PA would continue to hold
Shaath’s statement makes clear that rather than moderating
Hamas, the Fatah-Hamas unity deal is transforming Fatah into Hamas.
yet, Obama has had nothing to say about any of this.
undeniable antipathy for Israel and his apparent willingness to use his power as
American president to harm Israel at the UN and elsewhere guarantee that for the
duration of his tenure in office, Israel will face unprecedented threats to its
security. This disturbing reality ought to focus the attention of all Israelis
and of the American Jewish community. With the leader of the free world
now openly siding with forces bent on Israel’s destruction, the need for unity
has become acute.
MADDENINGLY, HOWEVER, at this time of unprecedented
danger we see the Israeli media have joined ranks with Kadima in siding with
Obama against Israel in a joint bid to bring down Netanyahu’s government. Yediot
Aharonot, Maariv, Haaretz, Channel 2, Channel 10, Army Radio and Israel Radio’s
coverage of Netanyahu’s visit and its aftermath was dominated by condemnations
of the prime minister, and praise for Obama and opposition leader Tzipi Livni,
who called for Netanyahu to resign.
The fact that polling data showed
that only 12 percent of Jewish Israelis regard Obama as pro-Israeli and that the
overwhelming majority of the public with an opinion believes Netanyahu’s visit
was a success made absolutely no impression on the media. The wall-to-wall
condemnations of Netanyahu by the Israeli media lend the impression that
Israel’s leading reporters and commentators are committed to demoralizing the
public into believing that Israel has no option other than
Then there is the American Jewish leadership. And at
this critical time in US-Israel relations, the American Jewish leadership is
either silent or siding with Obama. Right after Obama’s shocking speech on May
19, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement endorsing it. Stand With Us
congratulated Obama for his AIPAC speech.
With the notable exceptions of
the Zionist Organization of America and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle
Eastern Reporting in America (CAMERA), leaders of American Jewish organizations
have refused to condemn Obama’s anti-Israel positions.
becomes all the more enraging when placed against the massive support Israel
receives from rank-and-file American Jews. In a survey of American Jews taken by
CAMERA on May 16-17, between 75% and 95% of American Jews supported Israel’s
position on defensible borders, Jerusalem, Palestinian “refugees,” Palestinian
recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the right of Jews to live in a
The refusal of most American Jewish leaders, the
Israeli media and Kadima to condemn Obama today makes you wonder if there is
anything the US president could do to convince them to break ranks and stand
with Israel and with the vast majority of their fellow Jews. But it is more than
a source of wonder. It is a reason to be frightened. Because Obama’s
actions over the past two weeks make clear to anyone willing to see that in the
age of Obama, silence is dangerous.