On the question of Israel, Obama supporters will have to decide whose side they’re on.
Years ago a man with a history as a careful investigator told me on the basis of his research into his own family tree that I was probably Jewish. He reached that conclusion because his research found that Italians with place names were usually descended from refugees of the Jewish diaspora who had taken the name of the place where they finally settled.
Ferrara is the name of a town in northwest Italy, an old mining town that came to be dominated by Marxist mining unions, unfortunately. Ferraro is the equivalent of Smith in Italian, a name denoting a profession as a blacksmith. But Ferrara is the name of the town of origin of my father’s side of the family. My mother’s side hails from Sicily, which culturally more suits my personality.
I was delighted to consider the possibility that I may, in fact, be of Jewish heritage. For as a Christian, I had read a lot about the history of the Jewish people in the Bible, and easily identified with them.
That detailed Biblical history documents the life of the Jewish people in the Holy Land almost two thousand years before the birth of Mohammad.
Obama’s Trap Door for Israel
It is from that perspective that I approach President Obama’s call for Israel to return to the so-called 1967 “borders.” The 1967 lines were never borders in any formally recognized sense. Those were the armistice lines at which Israel stopped the advance of the attacking Arab armies in the 1948 war at Israel’s birth. Neither Israel, nor any Arab nation, nor even the UN ever recognized those lines as the official borders of Israel.
UN mandates and resolutions have called only for Israel to negotiate a final border with a Palestinian state for the region’s Arab refugees, which Israel has agreed to do. These refugees were never expelled from Israel. They originally fled from the area upon the order of the invading Arab armies. Nearly a million Arabs live within Israel today with all of the standard rights typical of citizens of western countries, equal to the rights of Jewish citizens.
It is only decades of repetition of sophisticated propaganda that leaves us today referring to the West Bank as occupied land. The historic name for those West Bank territories is Judea and Samaria. I will leave you to ponder the etymological roots of that name “Judea.”
President Obama’s 1967 borders would divide Israel’s original historical capital of Jerusalem, returning Arab control over East Jerusalem. That would include the Old City where King David ruled in 1000 BC.
Jewish settlements in the West Bank are legal under international law since the land was won in a defensive war, after Israel was attacked in 1967. Those settlements consequently are not illegal occupations of Palestinian territory. Those settlements are presently subject to further negotiation, as is the rest of the West Bank.
For these reasons alone, President Obama’s call for Israel to return to its 1967 “borders” should be rejected out of hand. And I am glad to see that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already done precisely that.
As Netanyahu said in the White House last Friday sitting next to Obama with the cameras rolling, regarding the President’s 1967 borders proposal, “It’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen, and I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen.” Netanyahu further explained that Obama’s proposed 1967 borders were indefensible, saying, “Remember that before 1967 Israel was all of nine miles wide, half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace: They were the boundaries of repeated wars—because attacking Israel was so attractive.” Those 1967 lines also “don’t take into account demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years,” as the Jewish population has teemed over the 1967 lines in extensive nearby settlements.
Then there is President Obama’s “contiguous state” problem. Obama said in his speech last Thursday at the State Department, “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves…in a sovereign and contiguous state.” For those unfamiliar with the geography of the region, the Palestinian settlements in the West Bank are on the eastern border of Israel, and the Palestinian settlements in Gaza are on the western border of Israel. For those who don’t yet see the obvious problem, Charles Krauthammer explained it in his column last Friday, “How do you get contiguity with Gaza? Does Obama’s map force Israel to give up a corridor of territory connecting the West Bank and Gaza? This is an old Palestinian demand which would cut Israel in two.”
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the brilliant columnist Bret Stephens noticed that in President Obama’s speech to AIPAC on Sunday, the President claimed credit for boldly “choosing the hard road to Mideast peace” with his path-breaking and controversial 1967 borders proposal, while insisting “there was nothing particularly original in my proposal,” claiming it had long been the American position on Mideast peace negotiations. As Stephens explained, “Yet assuming Mr. Obama knows what he’s talking about, he knows that’s untrue: No U.S. president has explicitly endorsed the ‘67 lines as the basis for negotiating a final border.” He noted that in 2009 Obama’s own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called this position “the Palestinian goal.”
In his AIPAC speech the President tried to suggest that his formulation of his proposal, for Israel to return to the 1967 lines with “mutually agreed swaps” only means negotiations over the final border. But that is not what those words mean in plain English. What they mean is that Israel can keep any of its settlements in the West Bank only if it gives up enough of its original land within Israel to get Palestinian consent. But as explained above, Israel has the right under international law to its West Bank settlements and should not have to buy Palestinian assent to them with its own land, effectively giving the Palestinians a veto over those settlements. That has not ever been the U.S. position before, and Netanyahu was quite right in already rejecting it.
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