By: Morton A. Klein
September 29, 2009
ZOA Agrees With Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton On Obama’s U.N. Speech: “This Is The Most Radical, Anti-Israel Speech…Any President Made”
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Obama links supporting Israel to
Israel fulfilling Pal. “claims”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized President Barack Obama’s U.N. General Assembly speech given on September 23 as “deeply worrying and indicates a major shift in America’s long-standing, pro-Israel position. This gives further credence to ZOA’s previously stated belief that Obama may become the most hostile U.S. president to Israel, ever.” In fact, not only did former U.S. Ambassador the U.N. John Bolton call this “the most radical anti-Israel speech I can recall any [U.S.] president making” ever made, but when asked in an interview, “Did we sell out Israel today?” Bolton replied, “I think it’s very close to that.” He also said that the Palestinian leadership “have Barack Obama [as] their lawyer, in effect” In response to the question, “are we changing our policy toward Israel almost 100%, Bolton replied, “Dramatically.” Bolton added “I was shaken and disturbed by Obama’s speech.” Furthermore, when asked, “Do you think [Obama] could sit in a church with someone who is as anti-Semitic as Reverend Jeremiah Wright is and not come away with anti-Semitic views?” Bolton answered, “At a minimum, Obama was either asleep for 20 years or we need an explanation which we never got during the Campaign.” (‘Glenn Beck Clips 09-23-09 Seg5- John Bolton: Obama Speech to UN Most Radical Ever by Pres.,’ Youtube, September 24, 2009).
The ZOA was particularly troubled by President Obama’s “coupling” American commitment to Israeli security with Israeli fulfillment of the “claims and rights of the Palestinians” and the absence of any context to his call for ending “the occupation that began in 1967,” thereby airbrushing the fact that the Arabs started the 1967 war by throwing the UN peace-keeping force out of Sinai and sending in hundred thousand Egyptian troops into formerly demilitarized and closed the straits of Tiran, thereby blockading Israel’s port of Eilat, an act of war. Equally troubling was President Obama’s statement that the U.S. does not accept the “legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” indicating he wishes that no Jewish communities exist in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and proclaiming that he holds them to be illegal. It’s one thing to say one opposes settlements; it’s quite another to say they’re “illegal”. Furthermore, he failed to mention continuing Palestinian Authority (PA) promotion of terrorism, refusal to arrest terrorists, or make a major and serious issue out of continuing Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder against Israel, and their naming schools, streets, and sports teams after terrorists contrary to all past signed agreements. He also ignored the recent Mahmoud Abbas’ recent Fatah conference, which praised terrorists by name and promoted terrorism.
Extracts from President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly and ZOA’s commentary & response:
· “The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians” [ZOA: This is perhaps the most astonishing and frightening statement on U.S.-Israel relations uttered by President Obama. In previous speeches, including when he ran for President, he spoke of U.S.-Israeli bonds being unbreakable and U.S. commitment to Israeli security as unshakable. Now, however, President Obama is stating as publicly as he can that U.S. support for Israel is now qualified by Israeli adherence to what he calls the “legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians” – presumably, setting up an unreconstructed Palestinian terror state on its doorstep, as he is pressuring it to do. Presumably, if Israel fails to agree to President Obama’s diktat, U.S. support will be withdrawn. Quite apart from the moral bankruptcy and cynicism of this statement, it reveals President Obama to have been insincere when he spoke about an unbreakable U.S. bond to Israel and unshakable commitment to its security.]
· “We continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” [ZOA: In addition to his on-going fixation on stopping any additional Jews moving to and building in these territories, President Obama has now actually gone one further and asserted that America does not accept the legitimacy of “continued Israeli settlements.” What can that possibly mean except that he has embraced the racist Palestinian demand that no Jews and Jewish communities should exist in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria? This goes beyond his hostile and racist construction freeze demand and basically implies that all Jews already living there must go – or else what can be meant by speaking of these communities being there illegitimately? It is one thing for President Obama to oppose them or state that they are unhelpful, which is one point of view; it is quite another thing to say that they are illegitimate, which carries with it legal implications. Many reputable U.S. and Israeli legal scholars have said that Jews have every legal right to live in these territories. Even if the PA had been truly reformed and now accepted peaceful co-existence alongside Israel, it could never be a condition of a meaningful peace that Jews, because they are Jews, must stop living in these territories. We note too that he is saying this even before negotiations begin. Whatever concessions Israel may make one day if genuine prospects of peace emerge, we are speaking of the religious, historical and legal homeland of the Jewish people. We understand that those who would destroy Israel demand this, but it is an impertinence coming from an American president. Ambassador Bolton was therefore correct to observe that “The most significant point of the speech was how the president put Israel on the chopping block in a variety of references, from calling Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegitimate to talking about ending ‘the occupation that began in 1967.’”]
· “… the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people” [ZOA: President Obama, alarmingly, does not address Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, rendering any such vision nugatory. Moreover, he speaks purely of “the occupation that began in 1967” but not of the series of wars, terrorist assaults, boycotts and hateful rejection of Israel of preceding decades that led to the 1967 war. This is simply an Orwellian version of history that removes from the record the reasons that Israel entered these territories in the first place. It fails to inform listeners that the 1967 war was called for and enthusiastically welcomed by Arabs, commenced when Egypt imposed a blockade, an act of war, on Israel and later joined by other Arab powers including Jordan, which was specifically asked to stay out of the conflict. These territories, therefore, in addition to being the religious, historical and legal homeland of the Jewish people, were conquered inn a war of self-defense and the return of these territories for a negotiated peace rejected by the Arab states at the Khartoum Conference later that year. By speaking purely of “the occupation that began in 1967,” President Obama adopts an Arab propaganda approach that implies that Israel seized these territories illicitly by aggression, rather than legally in self-defense. By demanding contiguity for this proposed Palestinian state, President Obama conveniently ignores the point that such a state would break up Israeli contiguity. It justifies former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton’s comment that President Obama, in this speech, that the Palestinian leadership “have Barack Obama [as] their lawyer in effect.”]
· “… all of us – must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we will only lend it lip service” [ZOA: This is an appalling piece of inaccuracy and moral equivalence. After recognizing the terrorist Yasser Arafat and his PLO, setting up the Palestinian Authority, ceding half of Judea and Samaria and all of Gaza to Palestinian control, as well as assets, funds and even arms, and even offered Palestinian statehood in 2000, only to receive terrorism and blood-curdling hatred in return, President Obama has the gall to suggest that Israel may be a party lacking in seriousness about making peace. He has thereby placed Israel on the same moral level as the Palestinian leadership, which has, only recently at its Fatah conference in Ramallah, reaffirmed its refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. It also glorified terrorists and the “armed struggle,” insisting on the so-called ‘right of return,’ and rejecting an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel. About this blatant demonstration of Palestinian extremism and hostility to Israel’s existence, let alone to making peace with it, President Obama had precisely nothing to say.]
· “We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It’s not paid by politicians. It’s paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It’s paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own” (‘Remarks by the President to the United Nations General Assembly,’ September 23, 2009) [ZOA: President Obama engages here in false moral equivalence. The failure of the PA, or now Hamas in Gaza, to maintain water works and sewage plants, despite the world’s highest per capita infusion of humanitarian aid, has nothing to do with the absence of peace except in the negative sense: the Palestinian leadership is much more interested in acquiring weaponry and building luxury apartments for themselves than in serving their people. In contrast, the thousands of rockets fired into southern Israeli towns like Sderot are all the direct result of Palestinian aggression and willingness to terrorize Israelis. It also ignores the fact that the absence of a Palestinian state is directly the result of a Palestinian refusal to refuse the 2000 Clinton peace parameters that would have resulted in an eight year old Palestinian state today. Morally, there is simply no analogy between an Israeli girl fearing that a rocket fired deliberately by a Palestinian terrorist might land on her house and kill her and her family and a Palestinian boy lacking clean water or a Palestinian state. The absence of both is not the result of Israeli choice, but Palestinian decisions.]
· “Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world … The violent extremists who promote conflict by distorting faith have discredited and isolated themselves. They offer nothing but hatred and destruction. In confronting them, America will forge lasting partnerships to target terrorists, share intelligence, and coordinate law enforcement and protect our people” [ZOA: President Obama, as is his practice, never identified these “violent extremists” as Islamist terrorists, murdering in the name of their conception of Islam. Accordingly, he conveyed a message, both at home and abroad, of fear, weakness and lack of purpose, seeing he is unwilling to even candidly identify the foe who, he admits, are so dangerous.]
· “Nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security” [ZOA: While we welcome this sentiment, we regret that this declaration would have possessed more persuasiveness if the parties actually doing most of the demonizing – Arab states – were named as such. Like so much else when President Obama speaks of what Arabs must do for peace and regional well-being, the offending parties – Islamist terrorists, rogue regimes like Syria – are never mentioned by name. This suggests that President Obama is merely paying lip-service to these matters, while not incorporating them into his foreign policy. ]
· “We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel” [ZOA: We welcome the fact that President Obama called for an end to Palestinian incitement. Unfortunately, however, this call is devoid of content that would have made it powerful and meaningful. First, President Obama did not even briefly describe “incitement” – the systematic inculcation of hatred and vitriol against Jews and Israel and encouragement to suicide terrorism and other forms of violence that permeates the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. But left as a mere word, “incitement” doesn’t tell anyone much. Incitement to what? Second, President Obama, who has been so outspoken and focused on making an end to Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria a precondition for diplomatic progress, did not make an actual end to Palestinian incitement a precondition for progress, though this is nothing other than a prerequisite for peace. He did not say that Palestinians need to do this before anything could be reasonably expected of Israel. In addition to being a prerequisite for a genuine peace, ending incitement is a signed Palestinian obligation under previous agreements and the 2003 Roadmap, so President Obama, had he demanded compliance of Palestinians, would be merely insisting on fulfillment of a pre-existing commitment, not creating new demands, as he has with respect to Israel on the issue of Jewish construction. Regarding the other outstanding Palestinian obligation – to disarm and arrest terrorists – President Obama said nothing at all. President Obama spoke only of Palestinian improving “security” which is vague and may not even refer to anti-Israel terrorism so much as to effective PA control in particular areas. The fact that the PA still promotes terrorism, pays terrorists and maintains the very militias that carry out terrorist attacks against Israel – like the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – would be completely lost on anyone dependent for their knowledge on President Obama’s speech.]
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply concerned and strongly critical of President Obama’s UN speech, which further signals a deliberate distancing from Israel. It even foreshadows a major shift in which the U.S. indicates it may not support Israel’s security needs unless Israel tows Obama’s and the Palestinian Arabs’ preferred line. This speech also indicates that Obama is embracing the Palestinian claims, while minimizing the Jewish state’s rights and needs.
“President Obama seems oblivious of the irony that he himself has stymied the possibility of the talks he so strongly urges upon the parties by introducing his demand on Jewish construction. As renowned Middle East scholar, Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Center’s Professor Barry Rubin writes, the ‘only reason there have been no negotiations for six months – a point the media never points out – is that Obama introduced the demand that Israel freeze all construction on settlements. This issue had never prevented talks before but once Obama raised the anti, well the Palestinians couldn’t be less militant than America’s president.’
“We urge all Jewish organizations and indeed all supporters of Israel to make their voices heard against Obama’s new – and dangerous – policy towards the Jewish state of Israel.”