Yesterday, I half-listened to President Obama’s speech on the Middle East — his voice has a droning quality that leave me MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) if I listen to it too much. But then he used one word that my ears have been trained to listen for whenever someone discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
That word is “contiguous.”
The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
Currently, the Palestinians have a bisected land. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are separated by Israel. “Contiguous” means that they are not separated, but connected. And that ain’t gonna happen unless you 1) bisect Israel and give the Palestinians a corridor through the heart of Israel, or B) run a Palestinian territory down to the Red Sea and back up to Gaza, depriving Israel of its Red Sea port.
At that point, I decided that the whole section of the speech needed some attention. Because if there’s this one incredibly dumb thing, there are almost certainly more dumb things in it.
And hoo boy, are there.
Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks.
Gee, all those Palestinian terror attacks? Rockets, mortars, suicide bombers? Never mind those.
Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security.
Barack Obama, border security expert and hawk. Oh, that’s rich.
The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.
Gosh, why hasn’t that been tried before? It’s so simple, so obvious.
Oh, that’s right. It was. In Gaza. And we all know how well that worked out.
Boiled down, it’s the same old same old crap we hear from the anti-Israel side. A healthy dose of moral equivalence between the Israelis an Palestinians, followed by insistence that both sides much make concessions. The Israelis must give up land and ease security restrictions and, in general, make it much easier for them to be attacked; the Palestinians must make promises to try to cut down on terrorism and think about recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
And even when the Palestinians make those promises, they never keep them. And no one ever holds them to them.
Obama is fixated on the “Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist” element. And from I’ve read, the Israelis don’t really care that much about it.
As I understand it, the Israeli attitude is “hey, we exist. We’re here. We ain’t going anywhere. Get used to it.” They don’t need validation from the Palestinians — or anyone — to be a legitimate nation, the homeland of the Jewish people. They simply bring up the issue as a way of pointing out the absurdity of it — what’s the point of opening negotiations with someone who pretends the Israelis essentially don’t exist? Further, so what if the Palestinians say it — they have a very, very lengthy history of going back on promises and pledges and concessions.
To Israel, the recognition issue isn’t a demand. It’s a prerequisite. It’s a precondition — how the hell can we negotiate with someone who pretends we don’t exist? As such, it needs no concessions, is nothing Israel should bargain over.
Here’s an idea: tell the Palestinians that if they can go a certain period of time (say, six months) without any attacks on Israel, and recognize that Israel exists and will continue to exist, then we’ll start negotiating. What we don’t do is start equating killing people with building houses, equate fences that keep people out with fences that keep people in, and soft-selling the calls for (and attempts to carry out) genocide — which is the end result of the “from the river to the sea, Paleastine will be free.” (The River being the Jordan and the sea the Mediterranean, meaning that the area will be rendered Judenfrei.)
At this moment, President Obama is meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And in that meeting, I strongly suspect that Obama is telling Netanyahu that he really needs to trust the Palestinians, that they won’t pull the football away, and he needs to make a few more concessions as “good will gestures” to get the peace process going.
What he won’t be saying is what concessions he’s going to pressure the Palestinians to make, what promises and pledges he will extract from them, to get them to demonstrate their sincerity.
Which I can kind of respect — I see it as a recognition of reality. The Palestinians won’t be making any concessions, will be very reluctant to make any promises, and won’t keep them anyway.
This is not a good time for Israel. And not a good time for those of us who believe in her right to exist, and think that the world is a far, far better place with Israel in it.
Update: NRO covers much of the same ground, but in some ways better.