The president gave a speech billed as a major policy address last Thursday. In it he made a major change in the U.S. stance on Israel/Palestine. According to the Israelis, it showed that he knows too little about why the region finds itself in this predicament in the first place. The president also promised billions in aid to countries that have yet to produce any form of democracy, too much when the U.S. is facing a debt crisis at home. And the president finally embraced democratic movements in Bahrain and Yemen, too late for those who have already died at the hands of America’s “friends” in the region.
The president’s insistence that the 1967 borders be the starting point for any negotiations on the boundaries of the future state of Palestine served to drive Israeli politicians and commentators absolutely mad. Watch this FoxNews video with former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Dore Gold, who is adamant that the 1967 borders leave Israel in an indefensible position.
Here’s former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. Dan Gillerman saying that, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the U.S. today, President Obama’s speech was like inviting a guest to dinner and then telling him that he’s allergic to everything on the menu.
The plan has been roundly rejected by both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Hamas, the party leading the Palestinians in Gaza. Netanyahu said, “The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel’s existence.” The leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist in the first place, making a reversion to the 1967 borders unlikely to satisfy his people. So it would seem that America’s young, neophyte president has hit a hornets’ nest of which he knows little about.
Even members of the president’s own party have taken him to task for his seemingly inexperienced and ham-handed attempt at jump-starting the peace process. Former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman was reported by the Wall Street Journal as saying, “As in the case of the President’s counterproductive demand for a settlement freeze two years ago, unilateral statements of this sort do nothing to bring the two parties back to the negotiating table and in fact make it harder for them to do so. They also damage the relationship of trust that is critical to peacemaking.”
Earlier in his speech, the president promised billions to Egypt and Tunisia, some in debt forgiveness, some in new loans and aid. Where will the president get this money? More American dollars will be spent on infant movements toward democracy that may or may not succeed. These dollars will be borrowed from communist China and paid back with interest Americans can little afford.
It was right for the president to stand up for freedom in his speech. The American ideal of democracy is something every president should champion. But President Obama dithered while America’s “allies” and “friends” in the region were beating and killing protesters. In fact, the U.S. reportedly gave Saudi Arabia the go-ahead to send troops into Bahrain to help crush protests, in exchange for Arab League support for a no-fly-zone over Libya.
So the president’s speech has turned out to be too little knowledge of Israel/Palestine, too much money sent abroad when the nation can’t afford it, and too late for supporting democracy–and even possibly giving the go-ahead to crush it in Bahrain. So much for the Arab Spring speech.