Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
Obama thereby repudiated presidential assurances to Israel that began with Lyndon Johnson and included President Bush’s letter to Prime Minister Sharon (2004): “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”
Obama embraced Abbas’s insistence that Israel must relinquish its historic claim to the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Perhaps he would also consider relinquishing Arizona, New Mexico and California to return the United States to its pre-1848 borders.
Obama’s willingness to sacrifice Israeli security infuriated Netanyahu, whose sharp protest to Secretary of State Clinton impacted on presidential comments when the two leaders met with reporters the next day. Obama’s boilerplate about firm American bonds with Israel and concern for its security was conspicuous for its omission of any reference to 1967 borders.
When Netanyahu spoke, he turned to the president and stated bluntly that Israel “cannot go back to the 1967 lines – because these lines are indefensible.” Nor would Israel negotiate with a government that includes Hamas, “the Palestinian version of al Qaeda.” He reminded Obama: “a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality.”
The “Obamination” (as Hebron spokesman David Wilder characterized the president’s speech) coincided with an Israeli announcement of approval for 1,500 housing units in Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev, beyond pre-1967 borders. It was, if coincidentally, an appropriate Israeli response.
In his AIPAC speech on Sunday, Obama still remained silent on the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.” Instead, he raised another demographic bogeyman: “the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”
But respected Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger, noting that 66 percent of the population between the Jordan and Mediterranean is Jewish, has concluded from stable Palestinian and rising Jewish birth rates that “there is no demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish state.” But Palestinian exaggerations are catnip for “demographers of doom,” whose ranks Obama has now joined.
Obama desperately needs a history lesson. The League of Nations Mandate (1922), citing “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” recognized “the legitimacy of grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” When Great Britain lopped off three-quarters of Palestine to establish Trans-Jordan (the first Palestinian state), Jews were still assured the right of “close settlement” in the remaining land west of the Jordan River. That right has never been rescinded.
Sixty-four years ago the UN voted for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But the Palestinians, never (in Abba Eban’s memorable phrase) missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, also rejected that partition plan. Now there are two de facto Palestinian states. Jordan, with a majority Palestinian population, comprises three-quarters of Mandatory Palestine. Gaza is a Hamas fiefdom. There is no reason for a third, least of all in biblical Judea and Samaria.
The lingering question is whether Netanyahu will stand firm or, as he did with Clinton over Hebron (1997) and Obama on the settlement freeze last year, once again capitulate to presidential pressure. Time will tell.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Hebron Jews” (2009). His new book, “Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena,” has just been published by Quid Pro Books.
About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.
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Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier
The Gazans are now paying for the choices they have made.
As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.
Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.
UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.
People test Israel every day to see how serious we really are in knowing when we are right.
Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?
It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.
Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”
The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.
Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.
So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.
King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.
During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.
In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.
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