After Obama at AIPAC: do his critics have a plan? (And does the President?)
05/23/2011 - 12:09
James Besser

 Numerous Republicans have hit President Obama for his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps - an explicit way of stating what has been implicit in U.S. policy since Bill Clinton's administration.

Which leads to the question: exactly what are the critics for?

Do they support those in Israel and the small minority in the American Jewish community who say Israel has a right to the West Bank and Gaza and should not give them up, period?

Do they believe Israel will someday have to give up the West Bank and Gaza, but that now is not the time, and that U.S. peace efforts should be put on hold until conditions dramatically change?

Do they think the U.S. role in the Middle East should be confined to cheerleading for Israel? (And would their opinion change if Israeli voters elected a government much more interested in pushing for a two-state solution?)

Do they have something else in mind that they are not telling us?

Or is this just a matter of partisan politics, stirring up a constituency already hostile to this president on the eve of a major reelection fight with implied promises – ie “we'll let the Israeli government do whatever it wants to do if we win next year” - everybody knows they won't keep?

Middle East policy is a piece of cake when you can just take political shots from outside; it's not so easy when you actually have to make it, which involves balancing myriad diplomatic interests, all with a risky political overlay.

Lest you think this is partisan, I haven't heard any good suggestions from those Democrats who were critical of President Obama's speech on Thursday, either.

And I'm not defending Obama, not by a long shot. True, he broke no new ground on Thursday and the fuss his comments caused smacked of hysteria or political manipulation, or both.

But the timing of his comments and their purpose remain a mystery to me, and the whole thing suggests diplomatic naivete – a really big problem in this unforgiving part of the world. It also suggests a complete lack of any coherent strategy. President Obama still seems to believe a few well chosen words will change things in the Middle East. You'd think after two and a half years, he'd have learned better.

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Do we have a plan? about not giving away the store before the negotiations start?

Where do you think the Arabs are now going to start, James? The Arab Right of Return? Why not? They have the American President on record saying he supports the Pre-1967 borders, with some "swaps", as he calls them.

There are already TWO Independent Palestinian States in the Middle East, Jordan and Gaza. Why a third?

Jordan is almost entirely made up of Palestinians. Get rid of the Heshimite Kingdom that the British installed after WWI and they should be all set. Jordan is a true apartheid state.

Why shouldn't the people of Jordan, the Palestinians, have the right of self-determination?

Leave Judea and Samaria in Israel, where they have always belonged.

**Do they support those in Israel and the small minority in the American Jewish community who say Israel has a right to the West Bank and Gaza and should not give them up, period**

Hey, you think, as a Jew, you might at least refer to the lands using their proper names, Judea and Samaria, rather than promoting the Arab view and calling them the "West Bank"? Is that really too much to ask, as least from Jewish News organizations?

Do you also refer to the Temple Mount as "El-Kuds", the name the Arabs use?