Obama's speech: where's the followup?
05/21/2011 - 21:03
James Besser

Days after President Obama's big Middle East speech at the State Department, the Jewish left is caught between skepticism and hope, the right is on the warpath – and I suspect most American Jews are wondering what the fuss is all about.

Yes, President Obama uttered the words “1967 borders” on Thursday along with “mutually agreed swaps,” all of which has been more or less U.S. policy for a long time even though that particular rhetorical formulation hasn't been used.

What both sides seem to be missing is that President Obama didn't say a word about how he plans to follow up on his words. And I suspect that's no accident.

I”m reminded of something former U.S. peace processor Aaron David Miller, who has a habit of being right a lot more than most Middle East commentators,  told me a few weeks ago.

Increasingly concerned about growing European support for the Palestinian scheme for winning UN support for a statehood declaration in September and feeling international pressure to respond to changes sweeping across the Arab world, but also convinced Israeli and Palestinian leaders are nowhere near ready to compromise, Miller suggested the administration might try to “park the issue with a dramatic speech..

“They may see that the best strategy now is to try to cordon off this problem – just as President Bush gave his 'Palestinian statehood' speech in 2002, which was an attempt to 'park' the Israeli-Palestinian issue until the Iraq war was over,” Miller said then. “When you don't have a policy, the pressure goes up to give a speech.”

It looks to me like that's exactly what happened last week: a speech meant to get the attention of the Arab world, but with no diplomatic followup, no plan to turn last week's words into reality.

Comments

Obama said "1967 lines" not "borders". There is a big difference.

I wonder how many of the Hollywood Liberals are still going to support Obama in 2012. I enthusiastically voted for him in 2008 but cannot do so again. I do not care one iota for Netanyahu but I strongly believe that what Obama is demanding of Israel is not at all in Israels best interests and that it will bring war and disaster closer to Israel. I am sixty years old and never voted for a Republican before but this time I will and I hope that some of the affluent members of our community who donate money to the Democratic Party will think twice before doing so in 2012. What we are seeing now is the most anti Israel American President in history and as a liberal Democrat this is not a good feeling to have.

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