Does the Media Misrepresent Obama When It Comes to Israel?

Ever since the Jewish community caught on to President Obama's pressure on Israel to impose a "settlement freeze" in Judea,  Samaria ,and parts of Jerusalem, the administration has blamed the media for misrepresenting its overall policy and strategic approach to the "peace process." One article said that "[t]here was concern about an imbalance in pressures placed on Israel as opposed to on the Palestinians and the Arab States ... the President indicated he had a sensitivity to the perception of that imbalance and had to work harder to correct that perception ..."

Obama had an opportunity to do just that on November 10, when Undersecretary of State William J. Burns addressed the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. But the speech proved that the media got it right the first time. Burns said, "We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements; we consider the Israeli offer to restrain settlement activity to be a potentially important step, but it obviously falls short of the continuing Roadmap obligation for a full settlement freeze."

One would think that having cited the Roadmap and wanting to place equal pressure on both sides, Burns would take the opportunity to remind the Palestinian Authority of its requirements under the Roadmap, such as confiscation of illegal weapons, dismantlement of terrorist organizations, arrest of terrorists, cessation of incitement to violence, recognition of the state of Israel and the display of the map of Israel in schools, and an end to glorifying Islamic terrorists by naming streets and sport facilities after them.

But no, not word about any of this from Burns.

Burns did call for a relaunch of direct negotiations and said that "that emphatically does not mean starting from scratch; it means building on previous agreements." This would mean that the Palestinian Authority specifically should revoke the clauses in their charter calling for the destruction of Israel -- something they have yet to do in spite of their promises. In fact, they reaffirmed these clauses at a recent convention.

But no, Burns made no such demands on the Palestinian Authority.  

Instead, he whitewashed it all with a dreamy and dangerous call for "international support for the Palestinian Authority's impressive plan to build over the next couple years the institutions that a responsible Palestinian state requires." What exactly this plan requires, Burns does not say. But we all know it calls for nothing less than the uprooting of thousands of Jews from their homes. He also envisions "a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, that ends the daily humiliations of Palestinians under occupation, and that realizes the full and remarkable potential of the Palestinian people."  

What does contiguous territory mean? It means linking the Palestinian Authority with Hamas-controlled Gaza and rendering Israel non-contiguous. And what make-over does Burns require from the Palestinian Authority to reach this lofty goal?

Not a thing.

It is Israel that must make itself non-contiguous so that the Palestinian Arabs can be allowed to "realize [their] remarkable potential." I shudder to think what that might translate into when the hypothetical Palestinian state becomes contiguous with a Hamas-controlled Gaza.  

Burns is irritatingly ironic in not recognizing that calling for a settlement freeze plays right into the hands of what he describes as "the fundamentally negative agenda of violent extremists, who are much better at describing what they want to destroy rather than what they want to build." If Obama were truly interested in "change," he would encourage the Palestinian Arabs to accept and live in peace with their Jewish neighbors. He would stop pushing Israel and start pushing the Palestinian Authority to take concrete steps towards ending its war against Israel and the Jewish people.

Burns is fond of quoting Winston Churchill. He admitted that the great English statesman had a point when he said, "the thing he liked most about Americans was that 'they always did the right thing in the end ... they just liked to exhaust all the alternatives first.'" Churchill also said, "Those who appease the crocodile get eaten last." Let's hope Obama can keep that crocodile at bay by doing the right thing now.   

Leonard Getz is a national vice president of the Zionist Organization of America.