by Thomas Rose 3 Mar 2014
In a bombshell interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg, President Obama issued his most direct public threats ever against Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
'Bibi’, the President all but said, ‘if you don’t accept the peace plan that my Secretary of State hasn't even released yet, you will ruin your country.’ The interview was released for publication almost the very moment as Netanyahu’s plane departed to meet with Obama in Washington.
In addition to droning on about the growing dangers posed by increasing Israeli settlement ‘expansion’, the "rights" of Palestinian refugees, the historic "moderation" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the reasonableness of the Iranian regime, President Obama used the interview with Goldberg to issue ominous new threats and dire warnings against the Jewish state if it did not agree to accept his plan to shrink Israel back inside the 1949 armistice lines.
Obama tells Goldberg that it isn't really the Palestinians who need to change. It is Israel. Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians is essentially the result of steps Israel takes to prevent such terrorism. The best way to change the Palestinian Authority's incitement to – and celebration of blood curdling violence against Jews – is for Israel to change its housing policy.
Nothing new here. This has been the President Obama's basic position since long before he ever ran for public office; and a position shared by most of the international community.
What is new about Obama's latest interview are his threats. If Israel doesn't do what Obama decides Israel should do, then Israel should no longer expect the U.S. to support it: “If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction – and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the past couple of years – if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguously sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the fallout is going to be limited.”
If Israel accepts that Obama knows best, that his proposed solutions to Israel's problems are superior to its own, then Israel will faced increased isolation and threats. On supporting Israel, Obama says: "It is getting harder every day". He explains that Israel faces 'increasing international isolation' because there is a "genuine sense on the part of a lot of countries that this issue continues to fester and that nobody is willing to take the leap to bring it to closure."
Back in January, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was forced to publicly apologise for comments he made to an Israeli newspaper stating his belief that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's all-consuming efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian "peace agreement" might be born out of a "misplaced obsession and messianic fervor". His comments provoked an unusually ferocious firestorm of outrage from both the White House and State Department. It was outrageous, the State Department and White House told the world in strikingly harsh language, for anyone to question the wisdom of John Kerry's unshakeable belief that "solving" the Israeli-Palestinian still remains the foremost challenge of U.S. foreign policy. Rarely, if ever, have administration officials used such sharp and pointed language towards the actions or statements of Iran or North Korea.
In the past four days, Russian forces have seized the Crimean Peninsula, another 150,000 troops are mobilizing on Ukraine's eastern border. North Korea successfully test fired two medium range ballistic missiles. Hundreds of Christian civilians in Nigeria have slaughtered by Islamist terrorists that Obama and Kerry have pressured the Nigerian government to 'accommodate'; UN nuclear inspectors reported that Iran is accelerating development of its nuclear program thus violating last November’s agreement with America. In our own hemisphere, Venezuela's leftist regime escalated its brutal crackdown against opposition protestors, Russia announced plans to establish permanent basis in Venezuela and Cuba. In response, President Obama intensifies his rhetoric against Israel.
Maybe it is time that somebody important demand that Moshe Ya'alon retract his apology? If anything, Ya'alon’s "misplaced obsession and messianic fervor" comments might now subject him to charges of 'understatement'.
The source of all this foolishness is much harder to accept than it is to identify. The Obama-Kerry (i.e. established Western) approach to peace in the Middle East is doomed to fail because it is built upon a false premise. It isn't Israel's current size, nor is it Israel's current housing policy, nor is it even the current Israeli Prime Minister that is the source of the problem. The problem is Israel itself. It shouldn't exist, argue its enemies. Until those who reject that existence either die off or genuinely accept the Jewish people's right to a Jewish and sovereign state of their own, there is nothing Obama, Kerry, the UN or even Israel itself can do to "fix" the "problem."
The Middle East "Peace Industry" is much too vested to allow itself to see any perspective other than the one it has spent 60 years constructing. Since it wants peace (and most of it does), then obviously everyone else must want peace too. Since President Obama and Secretary Kerry want peace, (and they almost surely do) then obviously the Palestinian people and the PA and Hamas who claim to represent them must want peace too. Since the Palestinians want peace, their continued resorts to violence must be the result of something Israel has forced upon them. War can not be a goal in itself for Israel's enemies because it is not a goal for the Peace Industry.
Like Ptolemists struggling to defend geocentrism after Galileo, Obama can't focus on Palestinian media incitement for the same reasons none of his predecessors did. Focusing on Palestinian incitement or terrorism would make those doing the inciting and the terrorising look bad. That might drive them away from the negotiating table. Without negotiating partners, there is no need for negotiating tables and the UN, the EU and the US have bought far too many negotiating tables to turn back now.
Obama can't remind himself, let alone the world, that it was President Abbas who urged Arafat to reject Israel's acceptance of nearly every Arafat demand in 1999 with a gruesome terror war against Israeli civilians because that would expose the falsity of his premise that the Palestinians truly want peace. He can't point to opinion poll after opinion poll that shows an overwhelming majority of Palestinians reject the two state solution because that might undermine the carefully crafted image created by the West that Mahmoud Abbas represents a people who Obama says "yearn for peace with Israel."
The President is hardly alone. Nearly the whole world has now developed an interest in ignoring Palestinian incitement. None more so than the world's media. Focusing on Palestinian incitement would make the media look not just foolish but dishonest. It would threaten the entire foundation upon which Middle East peace making has been built over the past 60 years. Jettisoning the current approach to 'Middle East peace making' would upend an entire industry. It would spell the end for lavishly funded Washington peace institutes; it would mean no more glamorous global conferences, no more UN confabs and worst of all, perish the thought, no more Nobel Prizes for Middle East Peace Making.
The late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov all but predicted the consequences of the UN's infamous 1975 "Zionism is Racism" Resolution when he said: "It will only contribute to anti-semitism by giving it the appearance of international legality".
Even years after its repeal, the sentiment that resolution validated lives on. It created a moral and legal justification for those who seek to destroy the very state created as a consequence of genocide and an antidote to future race-murder.