Peacemaker or Trojan Horse?By Jerrold L. Sobel
With what must have been the same fanfare and adulation our textbooks relate the people of Troy gave to the Homeric "Trojan Horse," President Obama received when he touched down in Israel last week. To the blare of trumpets in the background, a full military honor guard, and a red carpet strewn up the entire tarmac, the president majestically disembarked.
Barely off Air Force One, Obama was immediately surrounded and embraced by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel's ancient president, Shimon Perez. The smiles, the touching, if ever there was a kumbaya moment between heads of state, this was it. As if not enough to make every Jewish liberal in Israel and the United States kvel (beam with pride), the president brought down the house when he spoke in Hebrew: "tov lihiyot shuv ba'aretz," meaning: it's good to be be back here in Israel. He then finished off his initial remarks with the oft repeated refrain, one which rings hollow to many Israeli advocates: "America stands by Israel."
You might ask, why should such a proclamation be greeted with skepticism? His speech the following day to a gaggle of college students may offer some proof.
To what many, including this writer, think is the zenith of chutzpah, he went over the head of Israel's democratically-elected government and directly appealed to the population to put pressure on their; once again, democratically-elected government to end "the frustration in the international community" to do so, "Israel must reverse an undertow of isolation."
What he failed to mention was, whom are they being isolated by, the EU? The EU is a conglomeration of countries which throughout the centuries haven't exactly been kind to Jews and even today despite overwhelming evidence of decades-long terrorism still refuse to brand Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
Backing off like a boxer having just thrown a punch, to rousing applause, the president reiterated his mantra: "As long as there is a United States of America, you are not alone." You guessed it, the next punch was on its way.
Exactly what land was he referring to? Where in history did Palestinian Arabs have a land of their own? Judea and Samaria, which is absurdly referred to as the "West Bank" was, has been, and still is the cradle of Jewish civilization from time immemorial. Except for the willfully blind it's ludicrous to rehash the historical fact that Jews inhabited this land several millennium prior to the advent of Islam.
At no time in the Islamic timeline between the murder of Imam Ali in 661 and the establishment of the Umayyad dynasty, and the formation in 1453 of the Ottoman Empire by Mehmet II, was there a sovereign Palestinian Arab state. This is a fact the president either fails to come to grip with or stealthy ignores.
But why should little things such as facts get in the way of a man on a messianic mission to create a peace from a process proven defunct time and again over the past seven decades.? "Land for Peace" is moribund not because of "settlements" -- there was no settlement issue in 1947 when the Arabs turned down partition and opted to attack Israel the following year.
The proposed internationalization of Jerusalem was likewise refused by the Arabs. From that time frame onward until this very day, every overture of peace based upon land and compromise has been categorically met with refusal and violence by the Palestinian Arabs and the surrounding Arab states as well. Yet incomprehensibly, President Obama, as he has done throughout his first term and under the guise of "undying friendship" still disingenuously places the onus for compromise upon Israel.
At Camp David in 2000, what greater compromise could Israel have made other than offering the Palestinians 97% of Judea and Samaria, full control of the Gaza Strip; including a land link between the two areas, and withdrawal from 63 "settlements?" In exchange for the three percent annexation of Judea and Samaria, Israel would increase the size of the Gaza territory by roughly a third. Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new state, and refugees would have the right of return to the Palestinian state; receiving reparations from a $30 billion international fund collected to compensate them.
If not compromise enough, the Palestinian Arabs would also maintain control over their holy places, and would be given desalinization plants to ensure them adequate water. The only concessions Arafat would have had to make was Israeli sovereignty over the parts of the Western Wall religiously significant to Jews. Having acquiesced on every main Palestinian concern, these Israeli offers were categorically rejected by the Nobel Peace Prize winning archterrorist. He opted instead to launch the second intafada.
This is not supposition. During a TV interview on April 25, 2002, Dennis Ross, the senior Middle East advisor to President Clinton and chief U.S. negotiator reiterated these points as fact.
Speaking of facts, what did the "land for Peace" paradigm get Israel following her unilateral withdrawal from Southern Lebanon? Or for that matter, Ariel Sharon's abandonment of Gaza during his failed, inexpedient gesture of peace in 2005; dismantling towns and villages, displacing thousands of Jewish families.
Likewise strange, in none of his pontifications before adoring crowds at the Jerusalem Convention Center did Obama make mention of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan for peace with the Palestinian Arabs in 2008.
According to this plan, Olmert proposed giving land to a future Palestinian state in the Beit She'an Valley near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi; in the Judean Hills near Nataf and Mevo Betar; and in the area of Lachish and of the Yatir Forest. Together, the areas would have involved the transfer of 327 square kilometers of territory from within the Green Line. How did Abbas respond to this and what was his counteroffer? In rapid succession; he didn't and there was none. Next stop on this train to nowhere, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the 10-month building moratorium.
In November 2009 after months of incessant cajoling and pressure to halt "settlement" building in parts of her ancient homeland, Netanyahu called Obama's bluff and agreed to a building moratorium.
Initially the freeze was greeted with praise and optimism by the administration. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the pause in construction "helps move forward" the peace process. Through negotiations, she said, the two sides could reconcile Israel's desire for recognized and secure borders with Palestinian hopes for an independent state based upon borders before the 1967 war. This statement, predicating the foundation of negotiations on "borders before the 1967 war," tipped Obama's hat.
Then as now, no Israeli compromise short of land acquiescence seems to satisfy this man's obsession for a peace deal. Having in effect negotiated the Palestinian position, the settlement building freeze not surprisingly was once again met with a recalcitrant Palestinian response.
Offering no new proposals to his adulating audience, the president began wrapping up his two-day visit to Israel. To round after round of raucous applause Obama gave kudos to Israel's 100 high tech companies, her research centers, 10 Nobel laureates, Herzl, Begin, and Rabin. In his well-perfected glibness he fit in every platitude his speechwriter could think of. But to those astute enough and willing to read between the lines, what he didn't say had the most meaning, namely:
The Palestinian Arabs have steadfastly refused what should be the starting point of any peace negotiation: the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
As if in control of the land they so ostensibly yearn so deeply for, their leadership has rejected every overture of peace presented by different Israeli governments, not once responding with a viable one of their own.
On all of their maps and educational material, all of Israel is shown as a Palestinian state. Streets, boulevards, and town squares are continuously named after homicide bombers. Endemic hatred of Jews -- mind you, not Israelis -- is taught to their children at the earliest ages, as is total denial of Jewish connection to this land or recognition of Jewish Holy sites.
Until these strikingly obvious pitfalls are erased and the nonexistent "land for peace" archetype scrapped, Obama's oratory will accomplish nothing other than provide evidence for Albert Einstein's famous quote: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
FOLLOW US ON