Obama is waging a political war against Israel. Tensions are at an historic high between the two allies. Should we in America even care about Israel, after all they are the only true ally America even has in the Middle East.
During the Presidential campaign in 2008 I had more arguments with friends and members of my own family over Obama than I care to remember. To this day, I am not allowed to even discuss politics with my own family, this is their choice (or demand) and I attempt to abide by it. My biggest problem (and I had many being the only conservative in the family) was that I said Obama would be a disaster for Israel. Sometimes, I hate being right.
According to several sources in Israel as well as reports in the media both here and in Israel (harder to find them here given the media outlook on Israel here in the States) this past Friday, Obama had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deliver a four-point ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
First, Israel must cancel the approval of the housing units in Ramat Shlomo. Ramat Shlomo, for those who are unaware, is in northern Jerusalem just over the green line on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. It was built in 1996 and as of the year 2000 had a population of 18,000. The argument is due to Israel's decision to construct an additional 1,600 apartments.
Second, Israel must prohibit all construction for Jews in Jerusalem neighborhoods built since 1967.
Third, Israel must make some sort of good faith gesture to the Palestinians to show them they want peace. The US suggestion for this gesture is so absurd that I myself have trouble believing it. The Obama administration suggests that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons.
Fourth, Israel must agree to negotiate all substantive issues, including the partition of Jerusalem. Allow me to explain here what the partition of Jerusalem would mean. This “partition” would include Jewish neighborhoods constructed since 1967 that are now home to more than a half million Israelis. Also, Israel must agree to the immigration of millions of hostile foreign Arabs to Israel under the so-called “right of return”. Again, here I must digress for a brief explanation. The “right of return” asserts that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return to the property they left or which they were forced to leave in the former British Mandate of Palestine (currently Israel and Palestinian territories), as part of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, a result of the 1948 Palestine War and due to the 1967 Six-Day war. According to the numbers available the estimated number of Palestinian refugees, including both first-generation refugees and their descendants, exceeds four million. The other problem is there is no way of knowing who truly is and is not a Palestinian descendent. Anyone, including radicals and terrorists can just show up and claim to be Palestinian. Lastly, Israel must agree to Obama administration-mediated negotiations with the Palestinians. Israel has always maintained that any substantive discussions can only be conducted in direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
If Israel does not accept all four US demands in full and Obama keeps his word, then the Obama administration will boycott Netanyahu and all of his senior ministers. For example, this means that if Netanyahu comes to Washington next week as scheduled for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, neither Obama nor any senior administration official will meet with him.
Obama’s newest demands come after months of American pressure that eventually coerced Netanyahu into announcing his support for a 10-month ban on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. No previous Israeli government had ever been asked to make such a concession.
I must remind people of something of extreme importance that proves that land for peace is not what this has ever been about. Let’s put aside the fact that Hamas, the elected leadership of Gaza, has yet to remove from its charter that it rejects Israel’s right to exist and remains doctrinally committed to its destruction, yet Israel should ‘make peace’ with them. Let’s forget the unilateral pullout of Gaza by Israel on September 12, 2005, which included the eviction of 9000 Israeli citizens living in twenty-one settlements and the dismantling of numerous Israel Defense Forces (IDF) installations and an industrial zone; the desecration of the synagogue’s by the Muslim population afterwards and that the rocket attacks continued by the thousands against Israeli citizens and still continues today. Let’s pretend that Hamas never kidnapped the nineteen year old Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, on June 26, 2006, now having held him in captivity for almost 4 years, a total of 1366 days as of today.
Putting all the above mentioned aside, let’s look back at the Camp David meeting in 2000 between President Clinton, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. In addition, he agreed to dismantle 63 isolated settlements. In exchange for the 5 percent annexation of the West Bank, Israel would increase the size of the Gaza territory by roughly a third. Barak also made previously unthinkable concessions on Jerusalem, agreeing that Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem would become the capital of the new state. The Palestinians would maintain control over their holy places and have "religious sovereignty" over the Temple Mount. According to U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross, Israel offered to create a Palestinian state that was contiguous, and not a series of cantons. Even in the case of the Gaza Strip, which must be physically separate from the West Bank unless Israel were to be cut into non-contiguous pieces, a solution was devised whereby an overland highway would connect the two parts of the Palestinian state without any Israeli checkpoints or interference. The proposal also addressed the refugee issue, guaranteeing them the right of return to the Palestinian state and reparations from a $30 billion international fund that would be collected to compensate them. Arafat walked away from the table and said no deal. The prevailing view of the Camp David/White House negotiations - that Israel offered generous concessions and that Yasser Arafat rejected them to pursue the intifada (Holy war) that began in September 2000 and the violence of that uprising continued into 2005 despite cease-fire vows from Arab-Palestinian leaders. The wave of violence was marked by almost daily suicide bombings of Israeli targets, including markets, restaurants, buses, and other public places killing over 1,000 Israelis, as well as 64 foreign citizens including both military and civilian.
So, what is President Obama trying to accomplish by giving an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?
Caroline Glick, the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, Israel’s English newspaper, gave 5 possible reasons. Consider this while reading her explanations; the Jerusalem Post is one of, if not the most liberal newspaper in the country.
“First, Obama’s assault on Israel is likely related to the failure of his Iran policy. Over the past week, senior administration officials including Gen. David Petraeus have made viciously defamatory attacks on Israel, insinuating that the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem is a primary cause for bad behavior on the part of Iran and its proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. By this line of thinking, if Israel simply returned to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, Iran’s centrifuges would stop spinning, and Syria, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would all beat their swords into plowshares.
Second, even more important than its usefulness as a tool to divert the public’s attention away from the failure of his Iran policy, Obama’s assault against Israel may well be aimed at maintaining that failed policy. Specifically, he may be attacking Israel in a bid to coerce Netanyahu into agreeing to give Obama veto power over any Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. That is, the anti-Israel campaign may be a means to force Israel to stand by as Obama allows Iran to build a nuclear arsenal.
For the past several months, an endless line of senior administration officials have descended on Jerusalem with the expressed aim of convincing Netanyahu to relinquish Israel’s right to independently strike Iran’s nuclear installations. All of these officials have returned to Washington empty-handed. Perhaps Obama has decided that since quiet pressure has failed to cow Netanyahu, it is time to launch a frontal attack against him.
This brings us to the third explanation for why Obama has decided to go to war with the democratically elected Israeli government. Obama’s advisers told friendly reporters that Obama wants to bring down Netanyahu’s government. By making demands Netanyahu and his coalition partners cannot accept, Obama hopes to either bring down the government and replace Netanyahu and Likud with the far-leftist Tzipi Livni and Kadima, or force Israel Beiteinu and Shas to bolt the coalition and compel Netanyahu to accept Livni as a co-prime minister. Livni, of course, won Obama’s heart when in 2008 she opted for an election rather than accept Shas’s demand that she protect the unity of Jerusalem.
The fourth explanation for Obama’s behavior is that he seeks to realign US foreign policy away from Israel. Obama’s constant attempts to cultivate relations with Iran’s unelected president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad’s Arab lackey Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan make clear that he views developing US relations with these anti-American regimes as a primary foreign policy goal.
Given that all of these leaders have demanded that in exchange for better relations Obama abandon Israel as a US ally, and in light of the professed anti-Israel positions of several of his senior foreign policy advisers, it is possible that Obama is seeking to downgrade US relations with Israel. His consistent castigation of Israel as obstructionist and defiant has led some surveys to claim that over the past year US popular support for Israel has dropped from 77 to 58 percent.
The more Obama fills newspaper headlines with allegations that Israel is responsible for everything from US combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan to Iran’s nuclear program, the lower those numbers can be expected to fall. And the more popular American support for Israel falls, the easier it will be for Obama to engineer an open breach with the Jewish state.
The final explanation for Obama’s behavior is that he is using his manufactured crisis to justify adopting an overtly anti-Israel position vis-à-vis the Palestinians. On Thursday, The New York Times reported that administration officials are considering having Obama present his own “peace plan.” Given the administration’s denial of Israel’s right to Jerusalem, an “Obama plan,” would doubtless require Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines and expel some 700,000 Jews from their homes.”
I find it interesting that such a view point would be coming from a liberal Israeli newspaper; however I must admit that one or more of these explanations are plausible. But that still leaves the bigger question: Why should America really care about Israel?
From an economic stand point, Israel is worth billions to the U.S. Israel is second only to America in the number of companies listed on NASDAQ, and the Economist magazine says that Israel attracts twice the number of venture-capital (VC) investments as the whole of Europe. Throughout the cold war and even today the United States of America relies on Israel for several parts of its national security. If Russia or China (and possibly Iran in the not to distant future) were to ever launch a first strike against the U.S., because of Israel’s proximity to the afore mentioned countries, and being the only true ally the U.S. has in the region, Israel would be able to warn the U.S. long before Americas elaborate radar systems even had a clue of a pending attack. The Mossad, (Israel’s version of our CIA) works closely with the U.S. on a regular basis providing both intelligence and training on Americas counter terrorism and homeland security. American military pilots train both here in the U.S. and in Israel with Israeli pilots who are arguably the best trained in the world today. A multitude of Israeli weapons are purchased and used by the U.S. military, including Israeli UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) currently in use in Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention the amount of American weapons which Israel enhanced and improved upon and then gladly gives back to the U.S. with instruction on how it made them better. The Patriot missile system, for example, is just one of many weapons systems that Israel has improved upon.
With all that is currently happening in the Middle East today, does one really even need to ask why we need a country such as Israel to remain an ally? The way that Obama is treating, or better yet, mistreating Israel, while playing “make nice” to the likes of Ahmadinejad, as well as other terror supporting nations, I have to wonder how long Netanyahu and the people of Israel will put up with this before they throw in the towel. Many countries throughout the world already have a poor view and dislike towards the United States and its people, certainly all the countries in the Middle East are not our allies, except for Israel - for now.
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