Saturday, May 21, 2011

Obama The 'Extreme' Optimist

Here is how the White House Blog viewed yesterday's meeting between President Obvama and Prime Minister Netanyahu:

And quotes Obama saying:

...We just completed a prolonged and extremely useful conversation touching on a wide range of issues...We agreed that there is a moment of opportunity that can be seized as a consequence of the Arab Spring, but also acknowledge that there’s significant perils as well, and that it’s going to be important for the United States and Israel to consult closely as we see developments unfold. [in other words, oops, sorry there Bibi, I seem to have got my semantics garbled yesterday]

And he continued, stressing an understatement:

...I reiterated and we discussed in depth the principles that I laid out yesterday -- the belief that our ultimate goal has to be a secure Israeli state, a Jewish state, living side by side in peace and security with a contiguous, functioning and effective Palestinian state.

Obviously there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, [differences or contradictions to decades-long American foreign policy?] and that’s going to happen between friends [actually, it needen't happen because between friends, you first iron out any difference before going public and then finding out there are other friends of Israel that force you to backtrack]. But what we are in complete accord about is that a true peace can only occur if the ultimate resolution allows Israel to defend itself against threats, and that Israel’s security will remain paramount in U.S. evaluations of any prospective peace deal.

...I also pointed out, as I said in the speech yesterday, that it is very difficult for Israel to be expected to negotiate in a serious way with a party that refuses to acknowledge its right to exist. And so for that reason I think the Palestinians are going to have to answer some very difficult questions about this agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas [and if they are your friends, Mr. President, why didn;t you ask them first instead of hitting on Israel?]. Hamas has been and is an organization that has resorted to terror; that has refused to acknowledge Israel’s rights to exist. It is not a partner for a significant, realistic peace process...

...the extraordinarily close relationship between the United States and Israel is sound and will continue, and that together, hopefully we are going to be able to work to usher in a new period of peace and prosperity...

Netanyahu responded and said, in part:-

...We share your hope and your vision for the spread of democracy in the Middle East. I appreciate the fact that you reaffirmed once again now and in our conversation, and in actual deed, the commitment to Israel's security. We value your efforts to advance the peace process.

...I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible, because they don't take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. [that's a reference to the prrsence of Jews in the 150 communities established in Judea and Samaria, some in places in which Jews resided until being ethnically cleansed by Arabs during the Mandate years and the war they initiated in 1947] Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of 9 miles wide -- half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive from them.

So we can't go back to those indefensible lines, and we're going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan.

The second is -- echoes something the president just said, and that is that Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas...Israel obviously cannot be asked to negotiate with a government that is backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaida.

...a third reality is that the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a Palestinian state but certainly not in the borders of Israel. The Arab attack in 1948 on Israel resulted in two refugee problems, Palestinian refugee problem and Jewish refugees, roughly the same number, who were expelled from Arab lands. Now tiny Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, but the vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees.

Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel: accept the grandchildren, really, and the great-grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel's future as a Jewish state. So that's not going to's time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly, it's not going to happen...

And we even had some mutual respect:-

Mr. President, you are the -- you are the leader of a great people, the American people. And I am the leader of a much smaller people. The --

President Obama: A great people.

But Netanyahu takes it further:

It's a great people too. It's the ancient nation of Israel. And you know, we've been around for almost 4,000 years. We have experienced struggle and suffering like no other people. We've gone through expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions.

But I can say that even at the dearth of -- even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel. And now it falls on my shoulders as the prime minister of Israel at a time of extraordinary instability and uncertainty in the Middle East to work with you to fashion a peace that will ensure Israel's security and will not jeopardize its survival...we don't have a lot of margin for error and because, Mr. President, history will not give the Jewish people another chance...

I can't wait for the AIPAC speeches.


Barry Rubin on the speech - how Obama's speech was intended to be friendly toward Israel but has created the worst crisis in the modern history of U.S.-Israel relations.

JE Dyer

Yoram Ettinger on Obama and reality.

William Daroff had a funny re-tweet: RT @latimestot Leno: Obama wants Israel to go back to pre-1967 borders. Now Native Americans are demanding Obama go back to pre-1492 borders

Jerry Auerbach thinks it is time for Netanyahu, in his address to Congress, to decisively reject the seductive but menacing mantra of "land for peace."

Washington Post editorial: Mr. Obama’s decision to confront him with a formal U.S. embrace of the idea, with only a few hours’ warning, ensured a blowup. Israeli bad feeling was exacerbated by Mr. Obama’s failure to repeat past U.S. positions — in particular, an explicit stance against the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. Obama should have learned from his past diplomatic failures — including his attempt to force a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank — that initiating a conflict with Israel will thwart rather than advance peace negotiations.



Anonymous said...

Keep in mind something important: In September Egypt will hold parliamentary elections. The result will be either an Islamist majority or an Islamist plus radical majority. At that point, Obama's policy will be in a major crisis. That will also coincide with the UN GA meeting on the unilateral independence. I predict that there will be a massive debate in the media etc and a break of lots of people with Obama

Free Online Tutoring said...

When I hear of those in the Jewish community who support Obama, while knowing his stance on this issue just boggles my mind. I’m also very upset and shocked that Hillary Clinton, who was always pro-Israel sat there in support of Obama when he gave this speech. who think they can negotiate with terrorists?