Obama Digs in on Israel’s Borders

May 22nd, 2011 at 12:27 pm David Frum | 56 Comments |

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That was a deeply unwise speech Obama just gave to AIPAC. The president did not ask himself the first question of political speechmaking: Why am I saying this? Instead he surrendered to his personal exasperation with Benjamin Netanyahu, and escalated a confrontation he had every reason to de-escalate.

The president did not merely restate his view on the 1967 lines. He added extra emphasis on a worrying point that was implicit in his big Thursday speech on the Middle East: that the future Palestinian state will have exclusive responsibility for security arrangements within its territory. So, if a rocket is fired at Israel from the West Bank, it will be the security forces of the Palestinian state that will deal with it – or not. If Hezbollah intrudes into the West Bank it will be the security forces of the Palestinian state that will react – or not. And since those security forces are to be non-militarized, they may well lack the means even if they have the will.

The speech left me wondering: if the president is prepared to state now, in advance, that he has a view on the territorial outcome of negotiations, why won’t he state now, in advance, that he has a view on Palestinian refugee claims? Why won’t he state a view in advance on the non-division of Jerusalem? The thing most important to the Palestinians is now the official position of the Obama administration. The concerns of Israel have either been rejected in advance (security within the future West Bank Palestinian state) or else left for negotiation.

Meanwhile the president offers as a new benefit something that Israel had always assumed it could count upon in the past: the support of the US at the United Nations

I don’t know whether we have seen the launch of a new diplomatic initiative on Israel/Palestine. The general sloppiness with which this whole affair has been handled suggests that we are witnessing the fall-out of poorly considered improvisations. (It’s noteworthy that the AIPAC speech as delivered departed in noticeable ways from the text circulated in advance: like the Thursday speech, it was edited up to the last minute).

But here’s what I would guess; the president lost, not gained, friends in the pro-Israel community with his big opportunity at AIPAC today.

And I’d guess further: the standing ovation for Benjamin Netanyahu when he steps foot upon the rostrum of the House of Representatives will be deafening.


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56 Comments so far ↓

  • Arms Merchant

    You don’t start a negotiation with your minimally acceptable position. Rather, you start by asking for more than you want and trade those for concessions from the other side.

    “By proclaiming a US position on the pre-1967 armistice line, as a starting point, Obama removed any leverage Israel had in negotiating the “land swaps” he referred to, as well as in bargaining over the other conditions at issue. There is a big difference between accepting an Israeli negotiating position, and announcing that the US will tolerate only that specific negotiating position.”
    http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2011/05/21/the-remarkable-clarifying-powers-of-obama/

    Smart power!

  • llbroo49

    Explain to us again why an American President should be more or less concerned about Israeli lobbyist as compared to Tibetan lobbyist.

  • armstp

    Escalation? What speech did you watch? He seemed to clarify his points from last week and they were all very pro-Israeli and nothing new compared to past policy.

    By the way did you notice all the clapping and genuine positive response from the crowd?

  • Watusie

    If anyone reading this would like someone else’s opinion about what happened at AIPAC, here is Ron Kampeas:

    Here’s the key atmospheric takeaway : Obama’s “explanation” of his line in his speech Thursday, got standing applause. Not the whole room, half the room.

    Sums it up nicely.

    Though this is not surprising in the least, imagine for a moment that the leader of a country that is openly contemptuous of a sitting Republican president pays a visit to America, is given a warm reception by the Democratically-controlled Congress (indeed, even given the opportunity to address a Joint Session of both houses), and invited to address the leading liberal/Democratic think tanks and lobbying groups.

    Can you picture the interminable cries of treason from the right? Can you picture the steam-blowing outrage from Fox News, Rush, etc regarding the warm reception given to a leader antagonistic toward a Republican White House?

    And yet, when the roles are reversed, nothing.

    Go ahead and fall all over yourself to laud Netanyahu. The rest of us understand – he is bad for Israel and TERRIBLE for the United States. And Obama’ job is to look after the interests of the United States.

    I’m guessing he’s calculating that he’ll be in his current job for another 6 years whereas Netanyahu will be out in less than one.

    • ChallengingFrum

      openly contemptuous???? is Netanyahu allowed to have an opinion? he is the president of a small country that most of its neighbors want to push into the sea.

      as far as getting half of a PRO-isreali crowd to clap that doesn’t sound such a great assurance considering what Mr. Lincoln said about crowds.

  • baw1064

    “Meanwhile the president offers as a new benefit something that Israel had always assumed it could count upon in the past: the support of the US at the United Nations.”

    We should support Israel in the United Nations when it serves our national interest, and not when it doesn’t. What’s in it for us?

    “But here’s what I would guess; the president lost, not gained, friends in the pro-Israel community with his big opportunity at AIPAC today.”

    He never had many, if any, friends there. So what’s the point of pandering?

  • nuser

    The standing ovation for Netanyahu, will be deafening…
    That may be so , be the reason is not Israel and her policies or Netanyahu, but the hatred the House of Representatives have of President Obama. B.T.W. Did Netanyahu take lessons from Palin , like her he is now blaming the Media!

    • Watusie

      Just for fun, imagine what would happen if Keith Ellison were to shout “you lie!” at Netanyahu….

  • Saltwood

    This is an important analysis of the micro politics of Obama’s handling of the longstanding problems associated with the peace process, Israel’s security and American interest in the Middle East. David Frum’s analysis is the best of anything I have seen in the media this past week on the President’s multiple statements on the peace process and his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
    What is perplexing is why Obama thinks it is either in America’s interest or in his own political interest (that being the prism though which most decisions are being made these days in the White House) to tack publicly and sharply against the interests of Israel and towards those of the Palestinians.
    Ehud Barack conceded to all of the political and territorial demands of the Palestinians (including questions on the disposition of sovereignty over Jerusalem) in the 1990s. Notwithstanding that all demands had been conceded, Arafat refused to agree to a deal. This, in retrospect, was a useful empirical exercise to determine what the goals of the Palestinians are. A two state solution and living in peace with Israel is clearly not one of them.

  • nikhil_gupta

    Two things. One, the president of a foreign nation should deal with the foreign government he has, not the one he wants. Playing on the internal divisions of a nation is unacceptable. Two, David, is that you should be honest about whether you actually support a two state solution. Settlements are important in that they force the issue. Do you believe that there should be a Palestinian state, where Palestinians have at least the right of free movement and property, and that these security issues, while more important than those rights, will lead to those rights if these issues are settled. Or do you support the Status Quo over even an ideal outcome. If you are going to write about these issues, I feel as a reader that you answer this question directly if I am to learn from your arguments.

  • tommybones

    ” The thing most important to the Palestinians is now the official position of the Obama administration. The concerns of Israel have either been rejected in advance (security within the future West Bank Palestinian state) or else left for negotiation.”

    This nonsense relies on the falsehood that Israel’s concerns are “security.” That’s a lie. Israel’s concern is stealing valuable land and making it their own. That’s their concern.

    Speaking of “security,” why is it that the security of the Palestinian people isn’t a valid concern? In this conflict, the Palestinians have received the overwhelming majority of violence against their people. Yet with zealots like Frum, Palestinian security is not even worth discussing. It’s a non-issue.

    And equally egregious is the lack of admission that the Palestinian concern also happens to rely on legal requirements. This article wants to lambaste Obama for taking an official position based on the requirements of international law, simply because it’s also what the Palestinians want.

    Imagine someone stole another person’s home and property at gunpoint. The person who had the land stolen files a grievance demanding his stolen land be returned. The thief who stole the land demands that he will possibly return the garage, but only under numerous conditions. In Frum’s world, anyone who believes the dispute should be resolved by agreeing to give the legal landowner his property back is guilty of bias, and a “fair and balanced” approach would be to agree to reward the thief by equally sympathizing with the thief’s concerns. Does that make sense to anyone?

  • Ridge

    Maybe we now have a US Admin that understands and STATES that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is US national security issue and must be resolved to the satisfaction of the US security interests, not Israel’s and its lobby of Likudnicks and Christian End Timers.

    The budget crunch may be the tool to do so. Campaigning on billions for Israel but not one red cent for local schools or highways, or water projects, etc…. may not go down well with most.

    Ridge

  • hantu13

    Don’t be silly, David…

    The President maintained the exact same position that the US has for over 20 years- a two state solution, based on 1967 borders, modified to reflect demographic changes around the border areas (settlements), and that these modifications would be bilateral.

    I’d bet (pretty heavily) that most people who were concerned after the President’s speech earlier in the week, largely because of the false hysteria drummed up by the far right in both countries, are now largely assuaged.

    You are right about the likely reaction to Netanyahu in Congress. Nonetheless, the continued effort to align the Israeli government under the Likud party with the nonsensical positions of the evangelical segment of the Republican party is a very dangerous one in the long term..

  • Blue Virginia

    Remember When Reagan, Bush and Bush “Threw Israel Under the Bus?”

    http://bluevirginia.us/diary/3940/remember-when-reagan-bush-and-bush-threw-israel-under-the-bus

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    Could you point to the quote you’re talking about, David? It seems to me like you’re straw manning here. From the speech: http://www.nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/text-obama-s-aipac-speech-20110522

    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself –- by itself -– against any threat. (Applause.) Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. (Applause.) And a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign and non-militarized state. (Applause.) And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated. (Applause.)

    I found that bit by pulling up the speech and searching for “security”. “West Bank” had no hits, nor did “exclusive.” Where is this “the future Palestinian state will have exclusive responsibility for security arrangements within its territory” that you’re upset about? The plan described here is for a non-militarized Palestinian state. Are you arguing that no Palestinian state should ever exist, and that the Occupation should continue forever? If not, what precisely are you saying about “Palestinian security responsibility” after a transition period?

    Your concern that “the president is prepared to state now, in advance, that he has a view on the territorial outcome of negotiations” is also ill-founded. Again, from the speech this morning (which merely confirms what he said on Thursday):

    And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means. By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.)

    The president explicitly stated that he does not have a view on the outcome of negotiations.

    I wish I could say that I thought you should be more careful, because your misreading of the speech could have a negative impact on your reputation, but there’s little evidence for the proposition that one’s prominence as a pundit is dependent in any regard on accuracy or honesty. So, I’ll just ask you for honesty’s sake itself, to please explain why I am misreading you, or correct your misreadings of the president’s speech.

  • mc419

    They hate each other
    This will never end
    There is no God
    Have a nice weekend.

    As true for Israelis and Arabs as it seems to be for Democrats and Republicans. Shame on the President for trying to do something when everyone else is doing absolutely nothing.

  • zephae

    He added extra emphasis on a worrying point that was implicit in his big Thursday speech on the Middle East: that the future Palestinian state will have exclusive responsibility for security arrangements within its territory.

    Well, he doesn’t want Israel to undermine these efforts the same way they undermined Oslo, a fact that Netanyahu boasted about to a family of settlers back in 2001 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6KLFrye9Xk):

    (Wikipedia’s summation)

    “They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords]… I said I would, but [that] I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”[13][14] Netanyahu then explained how he conditioned his signing of the 1997 Hebron agreement on American consent that there be no withdrawals from “specified military locations,” and insisted he be allowed to specify which areas constituted a “military location” – such as the whole of the Jordan Valley.”

  • rbottoms

    Just curious, whose interests is the president of the United States of America supposed to put first?

    Last time I checked, it was ours.

    I’d say $60 billion dollars a year buys an awful lot of buses.

  • maxfieldj

    Republicans including Gingrich this morning continue to complain about Hamas. What is missing from their discussions is that it was their idea (Bush) to press for elections that gave Hamas validity through the (so called) democratic process. The only Republican I have seen admit this was a mistake was Cheney’s daughter when pressed.

    Obama has done something previous presidents have not done: scare the crap out of Israel. For a long time we have needed to put Israel on notice that our support is not unconditional.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    what elvis said.

    And so what if Netanyahu gets big applause? How about addressing what is Netanyahu’s approach to peace…and how possible it is for it to become reality.

    As I said before I think Obama is essentially washing his hands of the whole process. He has announced no new major envoy with the resignation of Mitchell, has not asked for any resumption of peace talks. He has set conditions (or should I say repeated previously laid out conditions) which he knows are rejected by both sides. Now he can focus on OUR wars, economy, and his own re-election.

    And what is the vision of David Frum for peace in the Middle East? Does he have none, does he imagine that Israel can just continue to expand settlements in the West Bank forever and somehow that Israel can keep a lid on the situation, that Israel will be fine as a country that only a portion of the people who live in its controlled borders have Democratic rights? Is it the dream of Frum that Israel have only 1 1/2 friends in the world, the US and (kind of) Germany who is never allowed to say anything negative about Israel forever?

    The US walking away from the process is probably the best thing we can do now. Throw a bucket of ice water in both sides faces, that we will not grovel just to get two sides to do what is in their own best interests.

  • indy

    The general sloppiness with which this whole affair has been handled suggests that we are witnessing the fall-out of poorly considered improvisations.

    Maybe. Or maybe you’re just now realizing that something has been going on that you are just now finding out about. I take door number 2.

  • dubmod

    Unfortunately we are here because of the Bush/Cheney adminstration’s abandonment of our long standing “honest broker” position. Gingrich this morning on Face the nation advocated a return to uncritical support of Israel – that’s a disaster for Israel.

  • rbottoms

    And I’d guess further: the standing ovation for Benjamin Netanyahu when he steps foot upon the rostrum of the House of Representatives will be deafening.

    Because we’re generally not rude to our friend Israel. Perhaps they might show our president the same courtesy.

    It is not the president of the United States’ job to kiss anyone on the ass.

    BTW, you know full well the GOP Taliban’s sole interest in Israel is for it to be destroyed when the Rapture really does happen. Israel has to be strong and secure until Jesus returns to duke it out with the Beast. Then all the evangelical Christians ascend to heaven leaving all those pesky joos & ayrabs behind.

  • b.nimble

    President Obama has to do what is in the national interest of the U.S. of A., and if it happens to coincide with Israel’s national interest, then well and good, but the Israeli government and its lobbyist in Washington cannot continue to expect that the American government totally ignore present day political dynamics in most of the Arab world which is still unfolding…Prime Minister Netanyahu’s unbending attitude about the peace process and the issues involved will not make Israel any safer…at the end of the day, America has always had much broader interests in the Middle East, not just the protection of the state of Israel and its citizens, which it has always been committed to defend since 1948, but also the protection of a very important strategic commodity vital to its economic well being: oil, the Arab nations have it and the Americans (and other industrial societies) need it. For any American President, and especially for President Obama, it is always a very tricky balancing act and it will get even more complicated as the Arab countries (and its people) continue to evolve over the months and years ahead. Israel and its leaders must recognize this new reality and work closely (and smartly) with their most reliable ally, the U.S. of A. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s petulant behaviour, recently displayed in public for all Americans to see, does not constitute smart diplomacy, in my opinion.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    oh, and what I would love to see is Israel unilaterally withdraw along the lines they laid out in 2000, force independence on the Palestinians and leave open prospects for negotiations. The settlements in the far flung areas of the West Bank simply put are not tenable. Continuing them are a huge mistake.
    If the Palestinians launch rockets into Israel Israel would be justified to militarily re-occupy the West Bank to secure their territory, however a military occupation does not allow for settlement building.

    And one other thing, people have complained that because Israel does not suffer equivalent civilian casualties in their own defense that they are somehow wrong because of it. That when Hamas launches rockets from Gaza from civilian areas that land where ever they do and that when the IDF targets the rocket launchers with precision and takes them out, the fact that Israel incurs more casualties is somehow a fault. This is simply nuts, it would be like saying we should have invaded Normandy with only as many troops as the Germans had to make it “fair.”
    As long as Hamas engages in launching rockets into Israel Israel has every right to defend themselves using disproportionate force. We are using disproportionate force against Gadhafi in Libya, that is the whole point of having a great military so that you lose as few members of it as possible while inflicting the greatest losses on the enemy.

  • Obama Reiterates Statements On Israeli-Palestinian Talks In AIPAC Speech

    [...] seems to be largely alone, though. David Frum calls the whole speech unwise and puzzling: That was a deeply unwise speech Obama just gave to AIPAC. The president did not ask himself the [...]

  • valkayec

    A couple of points:

    - Tzipi Livni, leader of Israel’s opposition Kadima party, also backed Mr Obama’s two-state solution and accused Mr Netanyahu of putting Israel at risk in order to save his right-wing coalition.
    “The prime minister has violated relations between Israel and the United States,” she said, speaking after Mr Obama’s speech but before the Oval Office meeting. “He has endangered the security of Israel and its power of deterrence.”

    - This morning on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, 4 Egyptian activists and leaders of the recent revolution joined Zakaria for a discussion on Egypt’s and the middle east’s future. When Zakaria asked them what they thought of Pres. Obama’s speech, they all stated they were not impressed. They said talk was easy, but that the government has continued the same old policy of unilateral support for whatever Israel does while holding the Palestinians to another standard. They said US-Israeli-Palestinians were not fair and equal. Now, if these youthful leaders see the contradiction now and they are the ones who in the future will lead Egypt, what kind of relationship will the US have with Egypt or anyone in the ME.

    - Today Aljazeera is honeycombed with stories and editorials about Obama’s speeches and the reactions in the ME. Most are either scornful or diplomatically say “same old-same old.”

    While Israel enjoys uncontested support in Congress, it’s losing the PR war elsewhere. The ME is changing. Instead of blasting Obama for not providing unconditional support of Israel, Israel’s hard right needs to wake up and recognize that if they don’t get serious about a two-state solution, the near future see them lose more than they gain.

  • Ridge

    Just to toss this in, perhaps Obama is remembering the advice of a previous president-

    So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

    Washington’s Farewell Address-
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

  • midcon

    The pattern for unqualified support of anything Israel does or says continues unabated. While David is not Israel’s chief apologist, he does an admirable job of shoring up any weaknesses on the flanks. Unfortunately, this support is based on the premise that Israel (a nuclear nation) is beset by threats from all sides and is unable to stand on its on without his Uncle Sam having his back. What purpose does Israel’s nuclear arsenal serve if not deterence? And yet, the deterent force Israel relies upon is the U.S. While I am not advocating the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East (would it affect the oil reserves?), Israel cannot continue to play their sugar daddy card without the sugar daddy being compensated for her support. Either Israel wants peace or land. Israel needs to move forward in order to retain any measure of goodwill from other nations. The current situation is ultimately unstainable regardless of how long it has gone on thus far. In this, Obama is right.

  • British_Lefty

    The main problem with the “1967 lines” from what I can discern would be the series of very large settlements encircling East Jerusalem (plain to see on google earth). I think that they were placed there to ensure that “realities on the ground” included the annexing of that part of Jerusalem which has been Arab for centuries. Returning to the Armistice lines might mean they have to give the settlements up and maybe and “undivided” Jerusalem as well.

    Presuming that Palestinians would continue to fire rockets after a settlement betrays a paranoia and a mistrust that is perhaps justified on some level but also a widely felt cynicism which itself could be as much a bar to peace as Hamas. If a sovereign Palestine were to allow rocket fire from their territory, the IDF would be 100% justified to go in there and deal with whomever threatened their citizens.

    Willful blindness to suffering of regular people in Palestine is why Hamas is popular. With the changing political landscape in that region, Israel is likely to be further isolated. This is not to mention the moves in the UN to do an end run around Israel and just declare a Palestinian state anyway.

    Everybody dances around it but Jerusalem is the sticking point. Solve that to the satisfaction of all involved and you will have peace.

  • RLHotchkiss

    Foreign policy in the United States is made almost exclusively by the President. The spectacle of having members of Congress siding with the leader of a foreign nation against what is the de facto foreign policy of the United States is inherently dangerous for Israel. The reality is that America has has much greater interest in a final peace agreement then it does in which settlements the Israelis give up or in what compensation Israel pays to the Palestinian refugees. Israel’s friends can’t continue to tout Israel as our greatest ally while joining it defying the foreign policy of the United States. No matter how good of an ally Israel is, Americans will eventually demand that Americans choose America’s foreign policy as defined by its President over that of another nation.

    Name one other country where congress could cheer a foreign leader in his defiances of our President. Israel may survive this once but, make no mistake these applause are the harbinger of Israel’s doom.

    • TJ Parker

      “Foreign policy in the United States is made almost exclusively by the President. The spectacle of having members of Congress siding with the leader of a foreign nation against what is the de facto foreign policy of the United States is inherently dangerous for Israel.”

      Amen!

  • armstp

    Frum,

    If Obama is shaking up people like you, then I think he is doing something right and mission accomplished. We need to get the Israelis and Israeli supporters out of their comfort zone. The world is changing around Israel and Israel is going to have to change with the world.

    All this discussion about Israel is basically so very very minor compared to the foundation shaking events in all the much large Arab countries. A few settlements, arguing over borders, etc. is fairly irrelevant to what is going on in the very big countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, maybe Iran, etc. Who cares what some far right wing leader in Israel thinks, when tens of millions of people are right-now changing the middle east forever.

    What will the Israelis do when the Arab spring comes to Israel and there is 100,000s in the street in peaceful protest? How will they react?

  • ProfNickD

    Those who are arguing for Israel to give in to Arab demands don’t particularly care that the Jewish homeland was originally intended to encompass all of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, both west of the Jordan River and east of it (present-day Jordan); they don’t care that Israel was attacked immediately upon its statehood in 1948, has been subjected to numerous attacks since, and is still technically in a state of war from the period of statehood because no Arab state except Egypt has concluded a peace treaty with Israel; and they don’t care about the vile and murderous Jew-hatred emanating from the “Palestinian” territories and from Arab states.

    Funny — you’d almost be compelled to conclude that Israel’s opponents don’t want it to exist.

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      Friends of Israel who want it to negotiate based on 1967 borders realize that Israel cannot go on forever as an occupying force and retain its democratic character. There must be a political resolution of the status of the West Bank and Gaza. The answer can’t be Occupation today, Occupation tomorrow, Occupation forever.

      Funny, it’s almost as if you wish the Palestinians didn’t exist.

    • ottovbvs

      Those who are arguing for Israel to give in to Arab demands don’t particularly care that the Jewish homeland was originally intended to encompass all of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate,

      Would you like to give us one source for this claim. If you don’t I’ll assume you’re lying as usual. I’ve actually read the Balfour Declaration (admittedly nearly fifty years ago) but as best I recall it’s rather vague about what would actually constitute the Jewish homeland.

  • armstp

    Netanyahu Humiliates Obama, Misrepresents Israeli Policy

    “Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to embarrass his host, President Obama, at the White House on Friday, delivering a pedantic attack on him. Netanyahu made many false assertions about Israeli policy toward the Palestinian West Bank being driven solely by security concerns, when it is in fact a vast landgrab of the ‘settler-industrial complex.’ Israel’s colonization of territories occupied from the Palestinians in 1967 is illegal in international law and deeply immoral.”

    http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/netanyahu-humiliates-obama-lies-about-israeli-policy.html

  • armstp

    Israeli MPs Slam Netanyahu Intransigence

    The USG Open Source Center translates reactions from opposition members of parliament (the Knesset) in Israel to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s blunt rejection of President Obama’s speech on the Middle East.

    Opposition Parliamentarians Charge Netanyahu’s Policies Harmful to Israel
    Voice of Israel Network B
    Friday, May 20, 2011 …
    Document Type: OSC Translated Text

    Qadima MK Sha’ul Mofaz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that Prime Minister Netanyahu today brought Israel one more step closer to international isolation. Only 24 hours since the start of his visit, Netanyahu managed to deepen the crisis with our best friend, and in less than 12 hours managed to strength the belief that Israel under his leadership refuses peace. Mofaz also said that the prime minister is leading Israel into an unprecedented diplomatic confrontation with the United States and a violent clash with the Palestinians whose outcome will be difficult and painful. Instead of moving toward a confrontation we should move toward elections, Mofaz said.

    Meretz MK Zahava Gal’on said that Netanyahu’s dispute with Obama over the 1967 lines contradicts Israel’s interest. She said it meets only the needs of the extreme right-wing coalition, which wants to build in the territories and deepen the occupation.

    (Description of Source: Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network B in Hebrew — State-funded radio, independent in content)

    Kadima is a center-right Israeli party that broke with the ruling Likud Party over its members’ unease with Likud expansionism in the Palestinian territories and a fear that over time a Greater Israel would make Jews into a minority because so many Palestinians would have been absorbed along with their land. The ruling Israeli Right wing has an answer to this anxiety, which is to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians and deprive Palestinian-Israelis of citizenship, so that the land could be usurped without the people. This latter policy strikes Kadima as impractical and as guaranteeing a lot of trouble, though Kadima is not in favor of returning to 1967 borders or of seeing a Palestinian state established any time soon. Meretz is a center-left liberal party that wants a two-state solution and would probably accept 1967 borders.

    http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/israeli-mps-slam-netanyahu-intransigence.html

  • Bunker555

    “But here’s what I would guess; the president lost, not gained, friends in the pro-Israel community with his big opportunity at AIPAC today.”

    Wrong guess, you need to talk to some AIPAC folks. The support was not overwhelming but good.

    Netanyahu is getting slammed back home. His isolationist views are not supported by the vast majority of the Israeli people.

    • ottovbvs

      The irony of this comment by Frum is that elsewhere on this very blog there’s a comment saying Obama’s speech was well received. Indeed when he was live blogging the president’s original speech where he referred to the 1967 borders Frum said there was not much in the speech he could disagree with. Zionist zealots who are reasonably intelligent like Frum know Israel is strategically in trouble but they can’t come right out and say so. Accordingly we get this sort of confused thinking.

  • shediac

    “And I’d guess further: the standing ovation for Benjamin Netanyahu when he steps foot upon the rostrum of the House of Representatives will be deafening.”

    Republicans will be cheering?

    So who in the House of Representatives will remind America of The USS Liberty? Who will speak for the 34 dead Americans? What ever happened to America first?

    Historians would tell you that when it came to the 1930′s and 1940′s Palestine was not the main problem for Jews, so why are they expected to pay-the-price for the “German” solution?

    Not many civilized people would object to Israel’s survival, but at what cost to others in the mid-east?

  • James Di Fiore

    Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski and Dr. Joseph Olmert seem to have the most level headed responses to Obama’s speech. Both dismissed the idea that Obama was somehow appeasing Palestine. To the contrary, the ‘mutually agreed land swaps’ appeared to fall through the cracks. What is important is that the private discussions retreat from the kind of reactionary politics this speech has created. Obama misstepped, he did not carve a new policy. Unfortunately, many pundits and politicians are fanning the flames and causing a lot more damage to discourse than needed at this time. The priority should be to try and maintain a workable start to a bonafide peace process.

  • ottovbvs

    David Frum may surrender to personal exasperation, I surrender to personal exasperation, but President Obama doesn’t when it comes to the exercise of US foreign policy. Frum is either spinning or applying his own terms of reference to the Presiden’t speech to AIPAC. I assume he’s spinning since what would be more stupid than disavowing a speech he made three days ago.

    • armstp

      Otto,

      It is all politics. As usual. The GOP in this country want to try and accuse Obama of being against Israel and pro-terrorist. But, Obama has said nothing new and in fact many in Israel itself say exactly the same things Obama says and are disgusted with Netanyahu. In fact, I think Netanyahu is very much playing political games with his friends in the GOP.

      If is terrible that both Netanyahu and the GOP are now politizing the issues of Israel in the U.S. Support for Israel and U.S. led talks to solve the problems with the Palestinians have always been bipartisan in the U.S.. It is shame that the GOP is now breaking with this. The GOP is just using Israel to once again try and get at Obama and maybe peel off a few Jewish votes.

  • pnumi2

    ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO EXIST… PARAMOUNT AND UNDENIABLE

    Today’s lunch specials include Palestine’s right to exist, chopped liver on rye or the jumbo knockwurst platter. Dill pickles are extra.

    Lunch menu good till 3pm.

  • Rob_654

    I think it is about time that an American President reminds Israel who the big dog is in this relationship and who is reliant upon whom for their ultimate security.

    The United States pays a ton of money for our support for Israel – this includes additional costs to defense due to the climate our support for Israel fosters in parts of the world.

    I support our support for Israel but at some point we have to look at the costs associated with this support and what we get out of it and then expect Israel to work with us to try and get some way for these sides to co-exist. I am under no delusion that Israel’s neighbors wish her the very best…

    But I am glad to see an American President coming out and stating some clear things about what he thinks is a possible way forward – its not like anyone who is yelling about what Obama has said has ever solved the problem…

  • indy

    Meanwhile the president offers as a new benefit something that Israel had always assumed it could count upon in the past: the support of the US at the United Nations

    Meanwhile, Israel offers the exact same benefits it always has, which is to say total dependence on the largess of the country that Netanyahu feels comfortable spitting on in public.

  • mickster99

    I wonder how things would work out in the Middle East if suddenly everyone there became atheists or perhaps agnostics? Suddenly Israeli’s and Palestinians laugh and sa “What were we thinking? There is no God so he can’t promise us or anyone else some desert real estate! Duh!”.

    I am reminded of Christopher Hitchens modest assertion: “Religion poisons everthing”.

  • sleepyhnl

    Mr. Frum, I am not sure if what the President is doing is the right thing, but he is doing what he thinks is right for America. I guess the delegates at AIPAC may need to be reminded that they are US citizens and President Obama is their elected leader. Mr. Netanyahu no matter how upset he may have been, disrespected the President at the White House. I may be wrong but he not only disrespected the President he arranged to go around the president to speak to our congress when he is out of the country. Disagree with our president okay, but openly disrespect him on national television will lose him some support and possibly support for Israel. Now that is sad. The president may have said things that will lose him votes and contributions among the Jewish people. But it was the truth, it had to be said and he was doing his job as the President of the United States. He was looking after our interest and that is his number one job, not worrying about re-election like so many other politicians. I guess it worked because our European allies, Russia and the UN support what he did or are all of them wrong?

  • WillyP

    To those people who lost the memo sent out in 2008:
    The present occupant of the U.S. Presidency is a far left socialist of the academic breed, who truly loathes western notions of individualism, freedom from government edict, colonialists, war victors (as opposed to the have-nots, that is), and by extension the region’s only true free and democratic society, Israel.

    Obama does not care about the Palestinians per se, but he does care to stick it to the Jews (does this sound harsh? consider when Obama delivered the speech, and that he did not find it proper to inform P.M. Netanyahu). Obama doesn’t have a “left.” He is THE left, and represents every radical idea they’ve ever dreamed, from socialist medicine, to full control over land and resources, to subsuming American sovereignty to international bodies.

    Take a look around and it’s all clearly right there. Obama could care less about the debt crisis. His agenda is to rewrite our Constitution and put in the laws needed to “properly” manage the citizens of the United States in line with what his experts recommend. Power for the sake of power. A rather nefarious man, wouldn’t you say Mr. Frum?

  • pnumi2

    A rather nefarious man, wouldn’t you say Mr. Frum?

    Not as nefarious as what you’re smoking, dude.

  • indy

    Obama does not care about the Palestinians per se, but he does care to stick it to the Jews (does this sound harsh? consider when Obama delivered the speech, and that he did not find it proper to inform P.M. Netanyahu).

    C’mon willy, keep the lies vague. Netanyahu made a big boo-boo. Loyalty to every country but your own, eh? What’s next, gonna defend Gaddafi too?

    Netanyahu, informed shortly before Obama’s speech of its contents by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, sought in vain to keep border language out, U.S. officials said. Netanyahu was incensed, they said.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110520/ap_on_go_ot/us_mideast_analysis

  • ottovbvs

    I’m not sure that Netanyahu attacking the US president in his own country doesn’t help Obama rather than hinder him with the center of the country. Of course the far right, neocons etc, will take the opportunity to attack the president but if anything this tends to isolate them even further as intemperate zealots who put the interests of Israel above those of the US. When the media in Israel and politicians in his own cabinet think Netayahu has overstepped the mark then it doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe he’s courting a backlash here.

  • nuser

    (Facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country). That is precisely what has been going on for quite some time , with F.F. leading the charge

  • WillyP

    nuser, I wouldn’t say FF is leading any charge. more like a retreat.