Three Republican primary candidates for President had a bad May. Senator Rick Santorum called Senator McCain out on torture. That is ill-advised.
Governor Romney has not yet found a good way to escape the albatross of Romney Care in Massachusetts.
Congressman Newt Gingrich self-imploded shortly after leaving the starting gate. Gingrich has an excuse; it’s genetic. He’s a congenital flame thrower, who confuses personal rhetoric with principled disagreement. He forgot President Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican. He called Representative Paul Ryan’s proposed Medicare reform plan “radical” He continued “I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the far left is a good way for a free society to operate.” He compared right wing social engineering to left wing social engineering.
These statements were personally harmful, but only affect their Presidential ambitions.
Statements of the President of the United States are different. When the President speaks, he changes the official policy of the United States.
President Obama delivered a speech at the State Department on Thursday, May 19. The first half laid out his goals and aspirations for the always volatile and byzantine Mideast. His Wilsonian goal is a peaceful, Democratic Mideast.
The second half of his presentation placed at risk the future of America’s most steadfast and reliable ally, Israel, as well as America’s national security in the Mideast.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was flying to the United States when the President unleashed his anti-Israel broadside, blindsiding the Prime Minister, who had less than a day’s notice. President Obama presented it evenhandedly, but it was anti-Israel. The speech was broadcast in English, Arabic, and Farsi.
The next day at a joint conference in the Oval Office, the President referred to the Prime Minister as a friend. As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? They met as friends, but the President’s conduct towards Israel has been one of petulance, treating Prime Minister Netanyahu as the satrap of an American province. The two world leaders are equals, both elected leaders of independent democracies.
The President abruptly left a White House meeting with the Prime Minister in 2009 to have dinner with his family. The President had presented the PM with a list of 13 non-negotiable demands, including a halt to new settlements. The Prime Minister rejected the non-negotiable demands.
Vice President Biden was earlier 90 minutes late to a dinner with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem. The VP was purportedly insulted by Israel approving the construction of 1,600 homes in east Jerusalem.
Most attention in Thursday’s speech focused on President Obama’s statement that “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreeable swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Less attention has been placed on his statement that the Palestinian state, i.e. Gaza and the West Bank, should be contiguous: “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.”
Netanyahu referred to the President’s proposals for the 1967 borders with negotiated land swaps as a non-starter. He essentially rejected the President’s proposals as unrealistic. He disclaimed a “peace based on illusions.”
The President appeared before AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, on Sunday. He backdown somewhat by recognizing that Israel would not retreat to the 1967 boundaries, but that land swaps between the Israelis and Palestinians “must be central to any deal.”
He stated that America’s support for Israel is “ironclad,” but tell that to President Mubarak of Egypt.
The Prime Minister clearly restated Israel’s long established position that no negotiations can occur without the Palestinians acknowledging the right of the Jewish state to exist.
The Prime Minister’s subsequent speech two days later before a joint session of Congress received a bipartisan 29 standing ovations. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of Israel, as did Senate majority leader Harry Reid. The President is out of step with even his Party on the Israel issue.
The President made his remarks when the Palestinian government is negotiating with Hamas, which is sworn to the destruction of Israel, for a joint power sharing arrangement. The Prime Minister responded that no negotiations can take place until the parties recognize the right of Israel to exist.
People hear what they want to hear. The Palestinians are no exception. They echo the call for a return to the 1967 borders, as well as the right to return for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the dispossessed Palestinians during the Israeli War for Independence.
Israel is justifiably concerned about its security. It is surrounded by enemies and probable enemies. Its secure border with Egypt is now history with Egypt opening the gates to Gaza. Syria has never been friendly. Fatah on the West Bank may join with Hamas in Gaza in a unity government. Both Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon are sworn to the destruction of Israel. Iran is supplying arms and funding to Israel’s sworn enemies. Only Jordan is quiet – at least for now.
Israel has suffered through three wars and two Intifadas, with possibly a third materializing. “Land for Peace” is a proven failure for Israel.
The country deals with harsh reality. It cannot risk Wilsonian Democracy.
The Arab Spring is not directed at Israel. It reflects the human spirit seeking freedom from oppressors. It is not directed at Israel, although, depending on how it turns out, anti-Semitic fanatics, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, may gain control of a country, and direct terrorist activities at the small country.
Only one democracy exists in the Mideast today. It is Israel. The odds are that when the Arab Spring works its way out, Israel will remain the only democracy in the Mideast.
The United States has only one true ally in the Mideast, Israel. Our erstwhile allies, such as Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, either have deposed their leaders, or under pressure by the Obama Administration to do so. Yet, the President has been strangely quiet on Iran, and is treating Assad, the dictator of Syria, with kid gloves and benign neglect. Tell me again why we are bombing Libya and attempting to kill Colonel Kaddafi?
Some White House aides started the standard silent campaign against the Prime Minister by claiming he was arrogant and treated the president with contempt. Only a few commentators echoed that Netanyahu is arrogant and should reach agreement with the President.
They forget that the Prime Minister is not speaking for himself. He represents the people of Israel, the people who elected him as a worthy successor to Ariel Sharon – a leader who places Israel’s security above all else.