Obama's startling linkage of Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace

What's a bomb between allies?: US President Barack Obama's decision to equate the Israeli-Palestinian violence with the Iranian nuclear threat shows the depth of Obama's vested interest in Israel's existence and well-being.

Obama speaks to the UN on September 24, 2013 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Obama speaks to the UN on September 24, 2013 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
By equating Israeli-Palestinian violence with an Iranian nuclear bomb, US President Barack Obama in his speech Tuesday morning before the UN General Assembly appeared at first glance to have blown this conflict out of all reasonable proportions.
Hard to imagine how continued violence in Jerusalem or Ramallah could compare to a mushroom cloud from Tehran.
In the face of the Arab Spring, with the turbulence and body counts out of Syria and Egypt, it seems almost old-fashioned to consider this conflict as a major source of instability in the region.
Yet Obama outlined halting Iran’s nuclear program and the conflict as his two top foreign policy priorities.
“While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace,” Obama said.
But there is an opposite side of the coin to this startling linkage, which speaks of the depth to which Obama shares Israel’s belief that an Iranian nuclear bomb would pose an existential threat to the State of Israel, as well as to his own country and the world.
The Iranian regime, which called for Israel’s demise, had also declared the United States as its enemy, and killed its citizens and soldiers, Obama explained.
In the past, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has hammered home comparisons between the Iranian threat and the Holocaust, to underscore the danger Tehran poses to Israel.
Obama in Tuesday’s speech reminded the United Nations that it was established to prevent atrocities such as the millions of deaths that occurred in the two world wars, and the threat of annihilation that nuclear weapons posed.
Even when speaking of Syrian chemical weapons, he said the world must act in the memory of Jews gassed in the Holocaust and Iranians poisoned by Iraq. He almost made it appear as if the UN was created for this moment in time.
In Obama’s view, when it comes to existential threats, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict threatens to destroy the Jewish state. There are those in Israel who believe that the opposite is true – that the creation of a Palestinian state will doom the Jewish state.
But Obama in his speech said: “Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state.”
If a miracle occurred and Obama achieved both the goals he set out in his speech – halting Iran’s nuclear program and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – he would have solved two of Israel’s most pressing international problems as well.
In speaking of a two-state solution, he did not go beyond the broad brush strokes of what has already been said. He did not define the borders of the two-state solution. He did not speak of the pre-1967 lines or of a settlement freeze.
Obama spoke against the West Bank occupation, but did not include Jerusalem in his terminology. Nor did he speak of a contiguous Palestinian state.
Israel, he said, had the right to live in security and be recognized as a country by the international community.
Palestinians, he said, had the right to live in dignity within a sovereign state.
“Two states is the only real path to peace: because just as the Palestinian people must not be displaced, the State of Israel is here to stay,” Obama said.
But his core message, at least for the Israeli people, was not the detailing of his vision or even the fact that he believes in the two-state solution.
The message for those who have doubted the centrality of Israel to American foreign policy is the linkage of common interests between two old allies.
The same threats that endanger Israel’s future endanger America’s.
Obama’s foreign policy places securing Israel’s future as one of his top priorities, not just because Israel is important to the United States, but because the same solutions that secure Israel’s future secure America’s.