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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Obama’s unproductive opinion on an impassive situation

Published: March 19, 2010
Section: Opinions

Generally, I try to be as supportive of President Obama as I can.  Although his administration’s performance has been slightly disappointing, I still believe that it can make a positive difference.  However, I find myself consistently disapproving of its fundamentally misguided approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Obama and crew repeatedly assert that America is Israel’s best friend.  They wax lyrical on the two countries’ shared values and commitment toward democracy, peace, human rights, and security.  They talk about the strategic value of Israel, and how critical it is to have a reliable ally in the Middle East.  This is all well and good.

At the same time, Israel has faced a wave of systematic demonization and Anti-Zionist sentiment from countries and leaders from all around the world, especially since Operation Cast Lead, or its conflict in Gaza last winter.  From Europe to the Arab Peninsula, it seems that the favorite past-time activity of the international community is to vilify the actions and even the identity and purpose of the Jewish state.  Underlying these appalling and at times Anti-Semitic allegations is that Israel is illegitimate and that Zionism is an imperialistic and colonialist enterprise.

Not only has the Obama administration remained complicit in this condemnation, but it has reinforced it.

At a time when Israel desperately needs the support of its historical ally, the American leadership has turned a cold shoulder, despite the fact that the American people have not.

This accusation stems not from Obama’s stance on the issue I mentioned, which was what happened in Gaza last year.  The 44th president has rightly condemned the inaccurate and highly biased Goldstone Report.

Rather, it is based on Obama’s attitude toward Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  Our commander-in-chief seems to think that the construction of settlements is the sole impediment to Middle East Peace.  If only those evil Orthodox Jews abandoned their homes and their livelihoods, then we could partition Israel into a Jewish and Arab state and we would be living happily ever after.

First of all, this is a politically infeasible and completely unrealistic demand.  Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, is the leader of the right-wing Likud Party, and draws much of his support from the settlers and their supporters.

Secondly, Obama does not seem to appreciate the significance of a construction freeze being the precondition for negotiations, and not the final step towards establishing a solution for the conflict.  If Netanyahu decides to commit political suicide by agreeing with the president, what concessions will he then have to make?

Destroying the settlements?  Completely giving up East Jerusalem?  Ceding every territory that was acquired after the 1967 war?  In fact, in my view, the Palestinians, who are probably encouraged by Obama’s stance, might not stop their demands until Israel is reduced to a mere parcel of land along the Mediterranean Sea.  By then, the vision of Theodor Herzl and the other founders of Zionism will have been torn to shreds.

Yet this is not even Obama’s most egregious error, which is that he has lionized and even martyred the Palestinians at the expense of the Israelis.  Rarely do we hear the American leader talk about what the Arabs would need to do to create peace.  There is hardly a mention of how they would have to demilitarize and completely renounce Hamas and all forms of terrorism and violence against the Jewish state.

Furthermore, Obama utterly ignores or is not aware of the history of the conflict.  He fails to recognize how Arabs have consistently been far more obdurate than their Jewish counterparts.  He overlooks how the Palestinians have continually rejected forms of compromise, from the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan to the proposals made at the 2000 Camp David Summit.

Additionally, he does not discuss how these people have usually been the aggressors in this conflict, from the war for Israeli Independence to the Yom Kippur War; the Israeli army is called the Israeli Defense Forces for a reason.

Instead, it would seem that the Palestinians are the innocent victims of a modern-day system of apartheid, and that they bear none of the blame in these disputes.  Are the Israelis perfect?  No.  I would still support some limits on new settlements, considering what the rest of the world thinks of them.  The government should do more to boost the Palestinian’s economy.  And I do hope that one day the Arabs get a state, but under more reasonable terms.

However, I expect better from Obama.  He is consistently betraying not only a nation that needs his support, but his own constituents, who sympathize with Israel.