The Reckless Rhetoric Designed to Rattle Obama

The rhetorical campaign to smear Obama continues. Remember Obama only said that some sort of two state solution would involve the 1967 borders. Very few people who do not have an ax to grind thought anything about these comments. Almost all discussions of the two state solution or final agreement on boundaries involves the 1967 borders. The 1967 borders provide a discussion framework and it has always been assumed that adjustments will result in accordance with the needs of both sides. Again, no serious discussion of two states, by serious I mean considered genuinely by both sides, assumes a return to the 1949 Armistice lines.

Those of you who have enjoyed walking around the old city having a coffee while the great rich mixture of life passes by, need to remember that if Israel returned to 1967 borders you would be enjoying that cup of coffee in Jordan not Israel. That’s all Obama said, but those who do not want to make any concessions or who simply do not consider Obama a friend of Israel want to delegitimize him rhetorically. Listen to Caroline Glick below as reported on Isranet. She claims that Netanyahu was blindsided by Obama after Netanyahu spoke softly about concessions and settlements. She attacks Obama for not accepting assurances and then trashes him for it.

For two and a half years, the Obama administration has refused to recognize and reaffirm these assurances. Then last week in his State Department speech, President Obama definitively trashed them. He declared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should indeed be resolved along “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Here is Glick again but claiming Obama to be soft on Arabs and the Arab world. Same old phony charge about liberals being weak. Tell it to Mubarak and Osama bin Laden.

Since he assumed office, Obama has been traveling the world apologizing for America’s world leadership.

Next is Charles Krauthammer in his regular drumbeat of Obama criticism. He is not even correct. Obama came forward and said the whole thing means nothing more than the parties themselves will negotiate from the 67 borders and agree on any changes. This sounds sensible. Listen to Krauthammer’s harsh rhetoric. The two sides do not go back to 1967 borders just because one side does not agree. That’s what mutually means. Both sides have to agree. Obama says in the quote below that by definition the two sides will negotiate a border different from 67. How much clearer does he need to be?

Nothing new here, said Obama three days later. “By definition, it means that the parties themselves–Israelis and Palestinians–will negotiate a border that is different” from 1967.

It means nothing of the sort. “Mutually” means both parties have to agree. And if one side doesn’t? Then, by definition, you’re back to the 1967 lines.

Here’s Krauthammer making statements about the status of the negotiation that are inconsistent with everyone. His rhetorical ploy here is to assume that this is what Obama believes and it is therefore dangerous. What is the evidence that Obama has moved the goalposts with respect to the right of return? Does Krauthammer really believe that Obama supports allowing millions of Palestinian refugees for the last three generations to return to Israel? This just is not going to happen. It is well accepted in both Israeli and Palestinian circles that a group of people called the Palestinians were disadvantaged and displaced during Israel’s war of Independence. Some sort of reconciliation or compensation is necessary. It is an issue in the negotiations. Moreover, most Palestinians did flee and were not driven out, although a small amount probably where as Benny Morris reports. This is the demographic issue and of course if millions of Palestinians flowed back into Israel then Israel would cease being a Jewish state.

Obama also moved the goal posts on the so-called right of return. Flooding Israel with millions of Arabs would destroy the world’s only Jewish state while creating a 23rd Arab state and a second Palestinian state–not exactly what we mean when we speak of a “two-state solution.” That’s why it has been the policy of the U.S. to adamantly oppose this “right.”

Krauthammer is being nothing but provocative by claiming that Obama holds positions that he doesn’t and extreme ones at that. Krauthammer cares little about nuanced argument and more about demonizing his opponent.

Walter Russell Mead likens Obama to Charles II.

“Here lies our sovereign king,” wrote the Earl of Rochester about King Charles:

Whose word no man relies on.

Who never said a foolish thing

Or ever did a wise one.

It turns out that all you need to know about Walter Russell Mead is his quote below. Again the interest is in character assassination and describing the other as so extreme as to be unacceptable. There is very little argument here.

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more.… As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.…

Once you make the argument from exceptionalism, the conversation is over. What else is there to say? What argument can be made? After all, we are exceptional and the normal rules don’t apply.

About Donald Ellis

Professor Emeritus at the University of Hartford.

Posted on May 30, 2011, in Israel. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Reckless Rhetoric Designed to Rattle Obama.

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