The Spectacle Blog

Just How Dumb and Damaging?

By on 5.19.11 | 5:50PM

How dumb and damaging was President's Obama speech on the Middle East?

1. Just when everyone was focusing on how Arab states could get their internal politics in order, Obama shifts the attention back to Israel.

2. Just when everyone was focusing concern about the role of Hamas and Iran in shaping the future of Palestinians, Obama shifts the attention back to what Israel has to do.

3. Just when the addition of Hamas was undermining the case for the UN "approving" of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, Obama legitimizes the effort to go to the UN by unilaterally supporting the 1949 borders, which happen not to include East Jerusalem.

4. By defining Israel's position about borders (like its position on settlements) as a sign of obstructionism, Obama shifts more responsibility and pressure on Israel, giving the Palestinians another in a series of Obama-manufactured free passes.

5. By coming out in favor of pre-'67 borders Obama has undermined Israel's ability to resolve Jerusalem. And by talking about "the fate of Palestinian refugees" as if this were something that took place today as opposed to 64 years ago as a result of an Arab rejection of the pre-'67 border, Obama has given this grievance more leverage and new life. 

6. By making his speech all about Israel (with promises to finance shopping malls and graduate school education in Arab countries), Obama ceded diplomatic control over the Middle East to countries that would be happier if Israel disappeared. (That's called leading from behind.)

7. By telling -- the day before his speech -- Eli Wiesel and others that America's commitment to Israel is unshakeable and sending his Deputy Secretary of State Jamie Steinberg to tell Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister that Israel shouldn't worry about Obama's speech, the President has once again demonstrated his rare talent for mendacity and his belief that this signal characteristic of his presidency can be forgiven because of how "transformational" he is.

8. By all these actions and pretensions, Obama has, as Chamberlain and Europe with Czechoslovakia, delivered a nation it called a friend and ally into the hands of its enemies.

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