Update below the fold.
President Obama made quite the speech today on the Middle East, including Israel, our ally, right before Prime Minister Netanyahu visits. And oh, what an, um, interesting speech it was.
If you have the time, inclination, and intestinal fortitude to watch Obama deliver it, and I warn you, he does go on, here it is:
If that is too much to bear, here is a link from the State Department of Obama’s speech. There is a lot at which to look in this speech, from the brief comment about women (you can definitely see Hillary Clinton’s input there – Obama’s words are very similar to what Clinton has been saying for some time – communities do best when the women who live there are treated fairly), to the comments about Israel. The latter are receiving a great deal of attention. Here is what Obama said:
[snip] So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state. [snip]
Some people have taken exception to Obama’s wanting to push Israel back 44 years, including Rep. (Col.) Allen West (FL-R) (h/t to Hokma):
[snip]From the moment the modern day state of Israel declared statehood in 1948, to the end of the 1967 Six Day War, Jews were forbidden access to their holiest site, the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, controlled by Jordan’s Arab army.
The pre-1967 borders endorsed by President Obama would deny millions of the world’s Jews access to their holiest site and force Israel to return the strategically important Golan Heights to Syria, a known state-sponsor of terrorism.
Resorting to the pre-1967 borders would mean a full withdrawal by the Israelis from the West Bank and the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Make no mistake, there has always been a Nation of Israel and Jerusalem has been and must always be recognized as its rightful capital.
In short, the Hamas-run Palestinian state envisioned by President Obama would be devastating to Israel and the world’s 13.3 million Jews. It would be a Pavlovian style reward to a declared Islamic terrorist organization, and an unacceptable policy initiative. [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)
Holy moley – West sure doesn’t mince words, does he?
This is an Open Thread. Discuss the above, or anything else on your minds.
And for your musical interlude, I offer up the incomparable Phoebe Snow, lost too soon on April 26th, at the age of 60.
I spent many hours of my youth listening to her music. Here she is singing her hit, “Poetry Man”:
Thank you for the gifts you shared with us. You will be missed…
UPDATE: So while Col. West doesn’t mince words, Obama does. Many of the talking heads are saying this morning that Obama was hard on Palestine, too, that he isn’t totally caving into them. You might know that Hamas, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007. Hamas does not support Israel’s right to exist.
So, what were Obama’s stern words to Palestine about what THEY would have to give up for Israel to return to 1967 boundaries? Oh, he is so tough: [snip] In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fata
h and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.[snip]
Ooooohhhh, so strong, so forceful! NOT.
Obama has set Israel up from the get-go, which is what Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to think, too. He had an angry phone call with Secretary Clinton Thursday before the speech was given, trying to get Obama to back down on his assertions. Clearly, Obama did not.
The question has been asked repeatedly, how involved was Hillary Clinton in this decision by the Administration. Why? Because of her previous solid support for Israel.The National Jewish Democratic Council had a fact sheet on Clinton’s positions when she was running for president to highlight just how strong her support for Israel was. Here is just a portion of that fact-sheet:
[snip] Senator Clinton has an outstanding record of leadership in the U.S. Senate on issues related to the U.S. Israel relationship. Since her election in 2000, Senator Clinton has compiled a very strong voting record on pro-Israel issues. She has cosponsored key pieces of pro-Israel legislation, including the Syria Accountability Act and Palestinian Anti-Terror Act, and signed numerous letters urging action on behalf of the State of Israel. She has repeatedly voted for foreign aid. Senator Clinton introduced legislation calling for the immediate release of the three Israeli soldiers captured by Hamas and Hezbollah.
Clinton has been a leading voice against the anti-Semitism in Palestinian school textbooks. She joined with the Palestinian Media Watch in February 2007 in releasing a report exposing the continuation of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic language in Palestinian school textbooks. Her full statement on this issue is available (here).
Senator Clinton sponsored legislation that limited U.S. contributions to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) until it recognized the Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s version of the Red Cross. This pressure resulted in the ICRC finally admitting MDA into the International Red Cross in the summer of 2006. [Senator Clinton’s position paper on the U.S.-Israel relationship]
Clinton’s strong support for Israel has been recognized time and again in the Jewish Community. For example, the Orthodox Newspaper, The Jewish Press, which opposed Clinton in 2000, wrote in support of her candidacy for re-election to the Senate in 2006: “As regards Israel, she has become an important supporter of the Jewish state both in public and, perhaps more importantly, behind the scenes. She is held in the highest regard by those who regularly plead Israel’s cause in the halls of government. For those who initially were wary of her positions on Middle East issues – and we include ourselves in that category – Ms. Clinton has proved to be a pleasant and welcome surprise.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)
You can see why Prime Minister Netanyahu might be confused by Secretary Clinton standing behind Obama on this, and having this speech made at the State Department. That is as clear a message as she can send.
I imagine the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu will be a bit testy, to be sure, but I also imagine that Netanyahu feels he has lost a dear friend and ally in Secretary Clinton.
There will be more to come from Obama’s speech as it is parsed. I imagine there will be more fallout as well. I have to say, whooey – I would love to be a fly on the wall in the White House today. How about you?