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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘borders’

Times Columnist Kristof Shows His True Colors

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I read Nicholas D. Kristof’s New York Times column of October 6 with its headline “Is Israel Its Own Worst Enemy?” and concluded on finishing it that it is Kristof who is truly an enemy of Israel.

As is fashionable nowadays, Kristof blames Israel for the lack of progress in the peace process with the Palestinians, claiming, “Nothing is more corrosive than Israel’s growth of settlements.”

Why? One million, five hundred thousand Muslims live in Israel. Why do the Palestinian Authority and its supporters like Kristof believe the West Bank should be “Judenrein” or that Jews may not live in a part of Jerusalem when they have lived in all parts of Jerusalem for 3,000 years until the Jordanians drove them out in 1948?

Why, when a two-state solution comes into being and borders are agreed upon and Jews are located on the Palestinian side, shouldn’t Jews have the choice of remaining on as Palestinian citizens or resident aliens or leaving?

Nothing offended me more and showed Kristof’s true colors and antagonism to Jews than his claim that the Obama administration “humiliated itself” at the UN by making it clear it will veto any effort to create a Palestinian state outside of direct negotiations between the parties. What is humiliating about insisting that the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel and negotiate all of their differences?

Is Kristof implying that Obama is being pressed into taking that stance against his will, or against the will of the American people? Is he implying that the Jews forced him into taking that position?

Kristof calls for the pre-1967 borders with land swaps. Does he tell us how that is possible when Hamas believes it is entitled to occupy Tel Aviv and its charter states that every Jew entering Palestine after 1917 must be expelled? Has Kristof ever criticized Hamas’s charter and its numerous acts of terrorism intended to accomplish this goal?

Kristof criticizes the fact that Israeli citizens have become more conservative on “border[s] and land issues.” Why shouldn’t they? Former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barack and Ehud Olmert offered to settle borders giving the Palestinian state 97 percent of the West Bank, which they rejected.

Many supporters of Israel believe Palestinians are not interested in a two-state solution, one Jewish and one Palestinian, but seek instead a return of Palestinians to Israel so as to ultimately overwhelm the Jewish state and make it a Muslim state. Has Kristof ever addressed that possibility?

The criticism Kristof lodges against Hamas is limited to “And Hamas not only represses its own people, but also managed to devastate the peace movement in Israel. That’s the saddest thing about the Middle East: hardliners like Hamas empower hardliners like Mr. Netanyahu.”

As Ronald Reagan once said, “There he goes again,” equating terrorists with Israeli “hardliners.” Surely, Kristof knows the difference.

The Israelis have concluded, and I agree, that the Palestinian leadership does not want peace. Within the last two weeks, the Quartet asked both parties to go back to the negotiating table and talk without preconditions. The Israeli prime minister immediately said “anywhere, anyplace.” The president of the Palestinian Authority said “no” unless Israel agrees to a settlement freeze and negotiates based on indefensible 1967 borders.

Has Kristof criticized Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, for his refusal?

In his column, Kristof urges Palestinian women to engage in civil disobedience that could, he knows, end in violence and be met, he says, with “tear gas and clubbing,” ending with “videos promptly posted on YouTube.”

So there we have it. Kristof wants a physical confrontation or have the state of Israel and its military lay down their arms and submit to threats of violence rather than defend their people. What an outrage. I have no doubt he is repelled by the deaths of innocent civilians in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army, yet he expresses no qualms at what would follow to the Jews of Israel were Arab armies or terrorists to enter a vanquished Israel.

Kristof attacks Israel for “burning bridges” with Turkey. I believe it is Turkey that has effectively declared war on Israel. Turkey recently expelled Israel’s ambassador and Turkey’s prime minister said he will send Turkey’s navy to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, a blockade a UN commission has just said is legal under international law and intended to prevent the Hamas government in Gaza from bringing even more rockets and other arms from Iran into Gaza.

U.S. Leaves Door Open For Internationalizing Jerusalem

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Full gas in neutral. With nearly built-in enmity on the part of the U.S. to the most basic Israeli positions regarding Jerusalem, it is no wonder our efforts to keep Jerusalem continue to run up against so many obstacles.
One would think the lines of confrontation over Jerusalem are clearly drawn: The Jews are striving to protect both parts of the city – their historic national capital and spiritual center in the east, and their modern-day capital in the other parts. In contrast, the Arabs demand the Temple Mount, the site of Muhammad’s mythical ascent to both the heavens and Mecca, together with the adjacent, mostly Arab-populated neighborhoods.
This, of course, would lead to a very clear position for the Arab side: “We want the Old City of Jerusalem, and the areas controlled by Jordan in the years 1948-1967, which you have ‘occupied’ since then. The Jewish-populated remainder of the city doesn’t interest us.”
Such a position – allowing Israel to retain what it won in Jerusalem in its defensive 1948 war – is bolstered by the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan. That agreement itself was buttressed by the U.S./British/French Tripartite Declaration of 1950 that guaranteed the very status quo set by the Armistice Agreement.
True, these were not official borders, because the Arab side made sure to insist, in true sore-loser style, that the borders thus set should not be construed as permanent. Israel agreed – but from the opposite angle. As Prime Minister Golda Meir said in 1969, for an Israeli leader to return to the 1949 borders was so dangerous it “would be treasonable.” Similarly, Abba Eban, who served as Israel’s foreign minister and ambassador to the UN, said the 1949 borders were reminiscent of no less than Auschwitz.
If even the 1949 borders are not safe for Israel, how much more unthinkable is it to erase whatever gains – such as western Jerusalem – Israel made in 1949!
Yet, despite the above, it appears a stand against Israel’s retention of western Jerusalem is being taken by the U.S. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, refuses to recognize that western Jerusalem – home to the Knesset, the Israel Museum, Bayit Vegan, Rehavia, Jaffa and King George Sts., etc. – belongs to Israel.
How is this manifest? Very simply: The U.S. refuses to register its American citizens born in Jerusalem as having been born in Israel. Instead, they are listed as “born in Jerusalem” – as if it were a country on its own.
This flies in the face of a duly-passed legal amendment by the U.S. Congress in September 2002 that reads, “For the purposes of the registration of birth [etc.] of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.” In practice, the U.S. government actually refuses to abide by this law – even at the price of being hauled before the Supreme Court.
Specifically, the parents of 9-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky of Beit Shemesh, born just 17 days after the law was passed, wished to avail themselves of its benefits, and asked that their Jerusalem-born son be listed as having entered the world in “Jerusalem, Israel.” The American consular officials refused. The Zivotofskys then took the government to court, lost, appealed, won partially, and, in short, the case is to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in November.
The suit is “about forcing the State Department to follow a law that merely codifies a long-established reality,” Dr. Zivotofsky has written, namely, that “Jerusalem, and certainly the western part of the city where Menachem was born, has been an integral part of Israel since 1948; no one has suggested changing that status, even after ‘final-status’ talks are concluded.”
This is precisely the point: Perhaps the U.S. is thus suggesting precisely that – that the Israeli status of western Jerusalem be changed.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, against whom the suit is officially filed, has explained that “any unilateral action by the U.S. that would signal, symbolically or concretely, that it recognizes that Jerusalem is a city that is located within the sovereign territory of Israel would critically compromise the ability of the U.S. to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.”
In other words, she does not recognize “that Jerusalem is a city that is located within the sovereign territory of Israel.” This is certainly not a position Congress or the American public agrees with – yet the State Department is willing to go the Supreme Court with it.
In the 1950s, the American government took the position that Israel should take no actions in Jerusalem that would impede the city’s internationalization. Even if this idea was widely discussed prior and following Israel’s establishment, no one truly takes it seriously today. Can it be that the U.S. governmental bureaucracy is so sluggishly out-of-tune that it still adheres to irrelevant, five-decade-old policies?
Furthermore, if the status of all-Jewish western Jerusalem is in such danger in American officialdom, what does this say about the U.S. commitment to retaining the Israeli status of the Old City, the Mount of Olives, the Temple Mount and Western Wall? And what about Ramat Eshkol, Ramot, Gilo, N’vei Yaakov and many other old-new areas of Jerusalem that were liberated in 1967 and have become thriving Jewish centers for the ingathering of exiles and Israelis alike in the dynamically rejuvenating Jewish homeland?
Once again, we are made to understand that even – or perhaps especially – regarding Jerusalem, we are a “nation that dwells alone.” Whatever we felt was self-evident regarding our national, historic and religious links to this unique city, and the world’s official acceptance of these links, is once again shown to be supported by shaky pillars in loosely packed earth. Though Jewish history in Jerusalem is marked by a host of laurels for the Jewish nation, we can never rest on them.
We must constantly remember the Psalmist’s refrain, “If I forget thee, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.” It must be ever on our minds: the subject of letters to congressmen and publications, phone calls, classes and lectures in our shuls, articles in our local newspapers, blogs, talkbacks, and the like.
             Jerusalem has room for many things, but complacency is not one of them.
To take an even more active role in the struggle to Keep Jerusalem Jewish, we invite you to visit and take part in our bus tours of critical but little-known parts of Jerusalem and environs. Come see for yourselves the implications of dividing our Holy City. Send an e-mail to tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit our website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
 

Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, continues to write and edit. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.

Did Netanyahu Blink?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

An Associated Press report on Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to negotiate the borders of a Palestinian state based on the 1948 Armistice lines understandably created quite a stir. Mr. Netanyahu’s public confrontation with President Obama over this very issue remains vivid in everyone’s memory, as does the enthusiastic and virtually unanimous bipartisan support for Mr. Netanyahu’s position expressed by Congress.

 

That this “red line” would be so abruptly and unceremoniously abandoned can hardly be deemed a simple matter. Did the AP somehow get the story wrong? Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters certainly hoped so, but then on Monday more news outlets, in Israel and abroad, confirmed that the prime minister had in essence accepted President Obama’s proposal that Israel affect a near total withdrawal from the West Bank.

 

To be sure, by Tuesday the AP was reporting that the Israeli government was “distancing” itself from the initial report, and that government sources insisted Mr. Netanyahu was merely willing to “show some flexibility” on the border issue.

 

When all the platitudes are put on the shelf, the gulf between President Obama and the Netanyahu government has been about whether Israel will be required to concede pre-1967 land as part of any peace agreement with the Palestinians. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, formalizing an end to the 1967 Six-Day War, spoke of Israel’s entitlement to defensible borders with no mention of accompanying land swaps. The notion of land swaps arose only as a way to account for changes on the ground subsequent to the 1967 war involving the growth of Israeli population centers in the West Bank.

 

Thus, when President Obama spoke of “land swaps” with the pre-1967 lines as the starting point, he was extending the notion of an exchange of land to Israel’s minimal entitlement to defensible borders rather than only post-1967 changes in reality on the ground. And this was a monumental shift.

 

In the weeks since the Netanyahu-Obama brouhaha, the administration has, for whatever reasons, been eager to downplay the implications of the president’s initial statement. At the same time, it’s clear from statements made by Mr. Netanyahu that there is a dynamic in play, driven no doubt by the Palestinian Authority’s determination to win UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

              In the run up to the final Palestinian push for that recognition come September, one can only hope that principle will prevail.

Title: The Borders of Inequality: Where Wealth and Poverty Collide

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Title: The Borders of Inequality: Where Wealth and Poverty Collide


Author: By Iñigo Moré


Publisher: University of Arizona Press


 


 


   Behind “the news” there’s almost always a story that isn’t being reported, and certain kinds of phenomenon occur almost simultaneously all over the world in almost every era.

 

   Thus the juxtaposition of Israelis and Palestinian Arabs across several mid-Eastern borders almost equals the disparity between Mexicans and Americans, and quite a few other “hot spots” around the globe.

 

   Moré’s thesis is that it is that disparity of income that helps to create phenomena, such as the smuggling of illicit drugs from poverty-stricken countries such as Mexico into Southern states of Continental U.S., and even from Egypt through Gaza into Israel.

 

   Aside from the occasional rocket attacks and violence aimed at Israel from within the Gaza Strip, and the occasional Suicide Bomber crossing into Israel, the much less publicized story is that a steady stream of illicit drugs are crossing those borders to feed the bad habits of many thousands of addicted Israelis.

 

   Of course, we readily see the vast extent of Israeli compulsion in asocial habits of cigarette smoking and use of chewing tobacco, as well as alcoholic beverages, but the relatively high income of Israelis makes them a target for the importation of illicit and illegal products entering on all sides.

 

   Another aspect of the fluidity of borders are the illegal immigration of laborers for industries dependent upon the unskilled physical laborers, for restaurants, warehouses and other industries not requiring personnel who are fluent in language and other specialized skills. In America they stream across the Rio Grande – in Israel they are flown in from South Asia.

 

   Sometimes the immigration is officially sponsored, such as what The U.S. did to grant immigrant status to many Cambodians and Vietnamese, or Israel gathering in Jews, including Falashas from Ethiopia and the B’nai Israel from India, but often it is not as well publicized as the Cuban emigration to The U.S., or the North Korean emigration to Israel, but the story – including that of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis is never clear cut and often multi-faceted.

 

   In chapter 3 we learn that from 2003 through 2011 the South Central Border unit of the Israeli border police seized 10 tons of marijuana, 14 tons of contraband tobacco, 6 kilos of hashish and 750 grams of heroin, and had arrested 88 people, most of whom are Israeli citizens or Egyptians. Coincidentally, our own country – The U.S. – has a problem with the illegal importation of an hallucinogenic drug, Ecstasy, which is one of the current “Club Drugs” of choice – resulting in quite frequent arrests of American and Israeli drug dealers by both American and Israeli drug enforcement agency personnel, often working in collaboration.

Needed: A New Narrative For Israel

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

As Israel’s leadership digs in its heels in the face of escalating Palestinian demands for statehood, the Jewish state faces a new, rapidly changing dynamic. The Palestinian Authority’s intent to seek United Nations recognition of a new Arab state based on pre-1967 borders, coupled with reconciliation between the PA and Hamas, further complicates the issue.

The Palestinians plan to submit a proposal for statehood to the UN Security Council in September. If vetoed by the U.S., it will be presented to the General Assembly, where the PA is confident of winning the required two-thirds majority. This unilateral strategy, which effectively rejects negotiations with Israel, declares the Palestinians’ intent to bypass Israel on their path to statehood.

While the Obama administration has criticized Palestinian unilateralism, it has empowered the Quartet (the U.S., European Union, Russia, and the UN) to supplant the U.S. as mediator in the Middle East. The Quartet is now working on its plan for Palestinian statehood, to be presented to Israel as a fait accompli.

If there is broad consensus within Israel on any single issue, it’s that maintaining the status quo has caused a precipitous deterioration in the country’s geopolitical status. Branded an occupier, Israel is viewed as not interested in peace. Hostility toward Israel has reached a new low. The Palestinian-initiated Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions campaign against Israel enjoys broad support. The model BDS campaign and other efforts to delegitimize Israel mirror the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. The status quo has become ever more difficult for Israel to sustain.

Paradoxically, Israeli proponents of maintaining the status quo publicly espouse support for a two-state solution and bemoan the suspension in negotiations. Privately they view the two-state solution as an existential challenge they are not confident Israel can survive. Prime Minister Netanyahu, in advance of his address to the U.S. Congress, outlined his “redline” positions for Palestinian statehood, confident the Palestinians would never agree to such requirements.

For their part, the Palestinians have made it clear they will never accept Jewish sovereignty even in pre-1967 Israel. Many within their leadership call openly for Israel’s annihilation. For Hamas, the obliteration of Israel remains a prime component of its charter. The two-state solution – stillborn in 1948, reconjured for the 1993 Oslo Accords – remains a fantasy, with no more agreement between the parties now than 18 years ago.

With Israel at a precipice, its future in the balance, a new paradigm is desperately needed. More than at any time since its founding, the Jewish state needs its leaders to craft a new and unifying narrative, one that will inspire the nation and serve as a vision for its future. A narrative that will unequivocally set Israel’s permanent borders, define its relationship to its varied communities, establish its rightful place among the family of nations, and proclaim its inalienable right to its ancestral heartland.

The narrative begins with borders, which are integral to security, as without security there is no Israel. As Ronald Reagan famously said, “A nation without borders is not a nation.” In geographic terms, this applies to no other nation as it does to Israel. No one can currently delineate with precision Israel’s or Jerusalem’s borders, or where they might lie under any future agreement. With the fate of many communities uncertain, lives are destabilized and the nation is disheartened.

Given that borders are the first line of defense, it is essential they provide strategic depth should they be breached. A country nine miles wide at its center is indefensible, an axiomatic assessment currently shared by virtually every Israeli and American military expert.

Adjacent to this nine-mile demarcation line lies Israel’s central mountain range, which straddles Judea and Samaria as it slopes toward the coastal plain. Israel’s coastal plain is home to 70 percent of the country’s population, 80 percent of its industrial capacity, and Ben Gurion Airport. No country can survive with its major population centers and only major airfield in close proximity and vulnerable to devastating Gaza-style rocket and mortar bombardments. The central highlands and defensive advantage they provide must remain with Israel.

Given the Middle East’s instability, secure borders safeguarding maximum strategic depth are imperative. Israel’s leading military analysts have warned since 1967 that Israel’s survival depends on control of the Jordan Valley. Its high ridgelines provide a natural barrier against the threat of hostile armies from the east. Israel’s previous narrative, of borders “from the River to the Sea,” must be revived.

Remembering Shimie – The ‘Pied Piper’ Of Flatbush

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I have never used my column to eulogize friends who have passed away, as their loss affected me and an inner circle of people who knew them – but not necessarily the community at large. But that is not the case for Shimie Silver, a”h, for without exaggerating, his circle of friends numbered in the thousands and transcended borders.

Without a doubt, expatriates from New York who now live in communities both near and far-flung, in the US, Canada, Israel, the Orient, and everywhere in between, reeled at the news that the brilliant light that was Shimie Silver had gone out. Though they might not have seen him for years, even decades, so strong was the impact he had on people that their world dimmed somewhat with the news of his petirah.

Shimie single-handedly enhanced the lives of hundreds, even thousands of men, women and children who came from every walk of life; individuals who represent the melting pot that is Brooklyn -Jewish and gentile, religious and secular, rich and poor, “cool” and not so cool.

No one was invisible to Shimie. Shimie personified ahavas Yisrael and showed exemplary respect for all of Hashem’s creations. We are taught that all human beings are made b’ tzelem Elohkim – in G-d’s image. Shimie took that lesson to heart, treating everyone – no matter who they were – or weren’t – with consideration and thoughtfulness, never forgetting that they were Hashem’s handiwork. He understood that looking down on someone because they were different or “outsiders” – not Jewish, not frum, not educated, socially awkward, poor etc. was disrespecting their Creator.

Shimie had unconditional love and respect for everyone, even for those who were problematic and would have deserved a cold shoulder. I once witnessed how he handled the anger-inducing comments of a close-minded individual whose disparaging remarks on a certain subject were based on ignorance fueled by religious fanaticism. I could tell Shimie was deeply perturbed, even furious by what he heard, but he eloquently, and in a calm, respectful tone pointed out the flaws in the other person’s reasoning. Shimie maintained his dignity and that of the other person and did not allow their opposing points of view to turn into a heated shouting match.

(I am convinced that if Shimie becomes aware of a Heavenly gezarah against Am Yisrael, he will, in his typical charming and persuasive manner, engage Hashem in a deferential but passionate debate to get Him to cancel it.)

But Shimie went beyond just being respectful to people. He brought simcha into their lives. There is a Judaic concept called “choteh v’machti” – a sinner who leads others to sin. For the sinner, it is not enough that he sins; he wants others to follow his ways. L’havdil, Shimie was a “smiler” – but it wasn’t enough for him to smile. He led others to smile and to be b’simcha. Shimie had a joy for life that he shared with everyone who crossed his path. It is said, misery likes company; in Shimie’s case, his joyfulness loved company, and even the most morose person was pulled into his vortex of happiness. In that sense, Shimie was the “pied piper” of Flatbush. He had this almost magical ability to pull people out of the crevices of their sadness and follow him in his celebration of life. To that end he would do his best to alleviate whatever it was that “ailed ” them – whether it was something as simple as lending a sympathetic ear; approaching a “wallflower” and showering her with compliments; networking for those who were financially down and out and helping them get a job. He internalized what Torah is all about – treating others how you would want to be treated – and having fun in the process. No matter what. Despite the many “curveballs” life threw his way- and some were “real doozies “- Shimie would not let them pull him down. He was that rare person who had a true hakaras hatov and hence was sameach bechelko.

Yet he didn’t see himself as being a big deal. During a long ago conversation, we talked about his days at Brooklyn College. He told me that at some point he decided to find out who was very popular on campus. To his utter shock, he found out that HE was.

Despite his very handsome looks, his impressive musical talents (playing his guitar and bongos at a very late night impromptu kumsitz in Niagara Falls many years ago almost got him arrested), his graceful, head-turning moves on the dance floor, his keen wit and his sharp intellect that produced insightful, enlightening, yet entertaining d’vreiTorah, Shimie had no idea how “cool” he was.

He was an anuv in the true sense of the world – someone who had a lot to “crow about ” but didn’t. Not because he refrained from bragging – but because he truly didn’t think he was special.

But everyone who came within his orbit was not clueless. They knew they were in the presence of someone “yotzeh min ha’klal. ” Someone extraordinary.

Shimie did not have any children in the traditional sense of the word, but if a parent is someone who offers unconditional love and acceptance; who does his best to enhance quality of life; who freely gives of his time, strength and resources to nurture the vulnerable; and who does his utmost to bring simcha to another – then Shimie left a legacy of thousands of “children” to mourn him, to remember him and to learn from his unwavering example of ahavas Yisrael and yiras Shamayim.

Cheryl Kupfer can be reached at magazine@jewishpress.com

Obama’s Jackie Mason Moment

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

President Obama’s speech at AIPAC straddled the line of a Jackie Mason
standup routine. It turns out that when the president said last Thursday that Israel should return to its ’67 borders, it wasn’t exactly what he meant. Who said I was referring to 1967? I meant 1867. I didn’t mean CE, I meant BCE. And why did you assume I was talking about Israel’s border? I was talking about French Guyana’s borders.
 
This was the first time I actually felt sorry for Obama – an incongruous statement to make about such a talented individual who also just happens to be the most powerful man in the world.
 
So why did he elicit my sympathy? Because you could see, both in his body language and the utter absence of passion, that he had been defeated. The president dithered, bobbed and weaved. He came into a room filled with 10,000 pro-Israel activists knowing he’d blown it, not just with the American Jewish community but with history as well.
 
For months, Arab democracy has been breaking out all over the world but Obama had yet to give one major policy speech on this unprecedented uprising. Yet when he finally chose to do so and thus recapture the American president’s traditional mantle as leader of the free world, he could not help but insert a highly inflammatory line about Israel that was immediately seized on by the media, thereby extinguishing the speech’s other content. And even on the Israel front he was forced to so dilute the ’67 border statement that it became utterly meaningless.
 
As Obama put it at the AIPAC convention:
 
“It was my reference to the 1967 lines – with mutually agreed swaps – that received the lion’s share of the attention and since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what ’1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps’ means. By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967 . It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu could not have expressed it better.
 
So why did Obama sabotage his Arab democracy speech, not to mention further erode his already tenuous Jewish support, with a reference to the ’67 borders he has now climbed down from? Here we have a president with the eloquence of Martin Luther King but who has yet to make a single memorable speech as president aside from the moving and dignified words he offered the night bin Laden was terminated. Last Thursday at the State department was his chance. Why did he blow it?
 
The president’s explanation at the AIPAC convention was that he had no idea the ’67 borders line would inspire such an angry backlash.
 
“My position has been misrepresented . If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance . What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.”
 
But the president’s claims to naivet? are ridiculous. To his detractors Obama is many things, but he is no fool. He knew full well that to publicly call for a return to the ’67 lines was a bomb waiting to detonate. Obama knew the demand to return to the pre-Six-Day War borders spoke directly to the Palestinian narrative.
 
So why did he say it?
 
I believe the answer speaks directly to the growing mistrust that American Jewry, which gave the president 78 percent of its vote in 2008, has for Obama and why Democratic Jewish donor purses are closing.
 
Stated simply, this president has a strange obsession with Israel. Even when he’s talking about the unprecedented breakout of democracy across oppressive Arab regimes, he has to connect it to Israel. He could easily have given a stand-alone speech about Israel and mentioned the ’67 lines there. But he believes to his core the oft-repeated falsehood that the secret to wide-ranging Middle East peace is a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and that Israeli intransigence is largely responsible for Arab anger and Middle East strife.
 
And even as history proves him wrong and the Arabs start directing their anger against their real oppressors like Ben Ali of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt, Khaddafi of Libya and Assad of Syria, Obama still thinks that at its root the protests are against Netanyahu of Israel.
 
Every president wants to be a historic figure and Obama has decided that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will define his presidency. If he successfully pressures Israel to remove any military presence from the Jordan Valley and return for the most part to its ’67 borders, he will achieve what no president has before him.
 

Sadly, Obama has forgotten that Jimmy Carter pulled off just that kind of breakthrough, brokering peace between Israel and Egypt, yet is still remembered as a failed president because he lost the larger battle of freedom to Islamists in Iran who initiated a war against the West we are still fighting.

 

 

 

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international bestselling author of 25 books, including his recent “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.” Follow him on Twitter@RabbiShmuley.

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