Beating plowshares into swords: Where does Obama's foreign policy take us?

Obama made the "easy" condemnation of J'lem attack but didn't blame PA for encouraging terror culture.

us special 2 224 (photo credit: )
us special 2 224
(photo credit: )
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The symbolism couldn't have been more depressingly perfect. On the eve of Barack Obama's photo-op visit to Jerusalem, earthmoving equipment being used for improvements to a park frequented by both Jews and Muslims suddenly became a weapon of attempted murder.
A Palestinian Arab bulldozer driver from east Jerusalem went into jihad mode, rampaging through busy streets, repeatedly ramming a bus full of people, attacking cars and pedestrians, and wounding 15 people. Just 20 days earlier, another Arab bulldozer driver shifted his focus from work on Jerusalem's light rail of the future to screaming "Allahu Akhbar" and using his construction equipment for the destruction of Jewish lives, killing three and wounding 45. The prophetic imagery of peace in Israel has been inverted-we are seeing plowshares turned into swords.
Yes, Obama "strongly condemned" the attack, and reaffirmed America's support for Israel in fighting terrorism. But even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack "and all acts of terror"-just days after glorifying and bestowing blessings on child-murderer/terrorist Samir Kuntar upon his release as part of the ransom paid to Hizbullah in exchange for the corpses of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Such words are cheap. And therein lies a problem with Obama.
Obama made the "easy" condemnation of the terror attack itself. But, once again, he could not bring himself to hold the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, responsible for encouraging a pro-terror culture to flourish. The Abbas-led Palestinian Authority tightly controls Palestinian media and textbooks, both of which, in flagrant violation of Roadmap obligations, are overloaded with vile anti-Semitic incitement. Yet, even though Obama later met for an hour with Abbas, there is no indication that the issue was even raised. Words of criticism for the terror-enablers elude Obama, a curious gap in his otherwise impressive vocabulary.
Obama's orientation toward Israel is not transparent, but there are clues to it. Dr. Michael Oren, noted historian and Senior Fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center, has identified several:
Although Obama has yet to say anything about the Palestinian Authority's failure to meet its Roadmap obligation to curb terror and stop incitement, he has no such reservations when it comes to impugning Israel's settlements, criticizing the Likud party, or allowing for the re-division of Jerusalem. He has backed the call for a contiguous Palestinian state free of Israeli roads and roadblocks. John McCain, by contrast, has not criticized Israel's settlement policies, and has stressed the need for an end to the promotion of terror and demonization aimed at Israel, and ensuring "that Israel's people can live in safety until there is a Palestinian leadership ready and able to deliver peace."
Dealing with Hamas? Dr. Oren notes that Obama waited five days before distancing himself from former President Jimmy Carter's Hamas meetings-and only after being pounded politically for not doing so; McCain condemned them instantly.
The candidates also differ on the core issue of whether the Israeli-Palestinian issue is the cause of the rest of the region's woes, or vice-versa. In an interview with The Atlantic, Obama described the conflict as a "constant sore" that "infect(s) all of our foreign policy" and "provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists." That is a formulation that suggests heavy Israeli concessions to achieve "peace" at any cost.
McCain, on the other hand, sees the opposite-that Islamic fanaticism is the obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace: "[I]f the Israeli-Palestinian issue were decided tomorrow, we would still face the enormous threat of radical Islamic extremism." According to Dr. Oren, neither McCain nor any of his advisors have indicated a readiness to apply greater pressure on Israel.
If Obama's orientation seems familiar, it's because we've seen it before: it is the peace-process-above-all approach we saw during the Oslo years. In the dream of Oslo, Israel created the Palestinian Authority with its own army, gave it guns, gave it land and allowed for massive economic aid. In the dream, this unprecedented gesture would pacify the Palestinians and create a force to police and control still-militant elements of the population as additional negotiations continued. Peace in our time. Palestinian swords beaten into plowshares. It was an elegant, visionary diplomatic theory.
But reality intruded. The Palestinian Authority turned around and, in effect, used their windfall to buy (and smuggle) more swords, unleashing the bloodiest non-wartime period in Israel's history. Yet, no number of exploding buses or massacres of Jews could shake the faith of the Clinton administration and Israel's pro-Oslo leaders that these were attacks against "peace" as opposed to attacks against Israel - even when the Palestinian Authority itself was shown to be complicit. As a result, there were no repercussions for the perpetrators. Peace talks were to proceed-with even greater intensity and calls for more Israeli concessions-following each terror attack.
Not surprisingly, Obama's Middle East policy team is home to a number of pro-Oslo diplomats. Their propensity to lean on Israel for concessions but to excuse any Palestinian bad faith is rampant among those who prize the process as an end in itself. Every act of terror is seen in "context." In turn, terrorist demands must be addressed for fear of destroying the delicate "peace" process. The easiest way to keep the process alive: press Israel to make more concessions. Obama himself seems to be of this mindset, as he has so far refused to hold the feet of the Palestinian leadership to the fire to fulfill their most basic anti-terror obligations, but already has Israeli concessions all mapped out.
We've seen the results of such diplomacy: with one party never held to any standard of conduct and never responsible to meet its obligations, plowshares revert to swords. And worse.
Kory Bardash in co-Chairman Republicans Abroad Israel; Abe Katsman is counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel