Tuesday, March 03, 2009

President Obama: Messiah or Naïf

Clinton: US to support Palestinian state.

Headlines and news like this make me wince. I say that fully knowing that this has been US policy for years. President Bush was the first to actually advocate a two state solution. I also understand that it is the only realistic solution provided that Islamist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah will be defeated to the point where they will be unable to do any harm. And I fully believe that the Obama administration understands that caveat.

So why do I wince if nothing has really changed? It is because the emphasis has changed. The US is shifting its focus from Israeli security as a precondition - to the goal of a two state solution. Secretary of State Clinton said in Israel this morning that the US will 'vigorously' promote peace efforts.

That leads me to believe that there will be more pressure than ever on Israel to make dangerous concessions. This has been kind of hinted at by President Obama with statements about building trust with our enemies. It is the reason he has given for seeking dialogue with Iran. There is no doubt that he realizes the danger Iran poses to the world. I am convinced he understands it at least as much as former President Bush did. Obama is a far more analytical President than Bush ever was. But that doesn’t make him any wiser.

He believes that building trust will create a more favorable climate that will lessen their motivation for terrorist attacks. He used this same argument for closing down the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. He thinks it will show Muslims that we are not anti Arab at all. And that will spur better relations with the entire Arab world.

But what he dosesn’t seem to understand is that while he might mollify the Arab leadership and to a lesser extent the Arab street, such gestures are completely meaningless to the Islamist terrorists he will be releasing. They are hell bent on creating a world ruled by Islamic law – starting with the destruction of Israel and replacing it with the Islamic State of Palestine, then spreading Islamist rule to the rest of the Middle East, and eventually - the world. What ever it takes. It’s all ‘L’Shem Shamyim’ for them. They see it as a religious obligation tantamount to a Yehoreg V’Al Yaavor - to die for! And when they say ‘die’ they mean not only Jews but themselves and even other Musilms. That should be at least one painful and obvious lesson learned from all those suicide bombings in Iraq where mostly Muslims were killed.

When the new administration emphasizes a two state solution they gloss over this very important caveat. I heard Mrs. Clinton this morning talk about a commitment to a viable Palestinian State with only a passing reference to Israel’s security concerns – saying that the United States will do everything it can to insure Israel’s security. What exactly they mean by that is completely unclear. Will they send American troops to protect Israel’s borders? I don’t think so. At least I hope not.

This was one of the reasons I supported President Obama’s opponent in the election. He always put Israel’s security first – sending a clear message to Palestinians that if they want their own state they know what they must do first. I’m not getting that message– at least not as strongly – from the Obama administration.

It remains to be seen whether this new emphasis will have any impact on Israel or on the so called peace process – whether for good or bad. Prime Minister designate Benjamin Netanyahu opposes a two state solution. He has correctly pointed out what giving up Gaza has led to. He does not want to make that mistake in the West Bank. Will there be a clash between the two governments? What will the fallout be? Will the US consider withholding foreign aid as a hammer? Will Netanyahu succumb to pressure? Should he? Or will Obama somehow succeed in eliminating terrorist attacks and forge a genuine peace between Israel and its neighbors? If he does that he may actually be the Messiah.