ZOA: Obama’s Remarks Show No Change In Old Misunderstandings Of Arab War On Israel
July 23, 2008

 The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has described Senator Barack Obama’s remarks yesterday in Jordan regarding the Arab war on Israel as showing no change in the old, repeated misunderstanding and misinterpretations of the continuing Arab war against Israel thinking which shows little insight into the nature of that war.


Senator Obama’s remarks in Jordan:


·         It is my firm belief that it is in the interest of both the Israeli people and the Palestinians to arrive at a peaceful settlement. It is a very difficult process. There is a lot of history that exists between those two people. That history is not going to vanish overnight. People’s memories are long. There has been bloodshed and disputes that date back generations.” [ZOA: By speaking about long memories and squabbles between two rigid, disputant parties, Obama engages in moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet there can be no moral equivalence between two parties when one party is bent on the destruction of the other. Arabs have attacked Jews even before Israel was established: in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-39. Palestinians have been offered statehood by the Pell Royal Commission in 1937, by the UN partition plan in 1947 and in the Clinton peace plan of 2000 – yet they have refused statehood on all occasions in preference for attempting to eliminate Jewish statehood.]

·         “… I think it’s unrealistic to expect that a U.S. president alone can suddenly snap his fingers and bring about peace in this region. What a U.S. president can do is apply sustained energy and focus on the issues of the Israelis and the Palestinians. And I do believe that an ultimate resolution is going to involve two states standing side-by-side in peace and security and that the Israelis and the Palestinians are going to both have to make compromises in order to arrive at that two-state solution” [ZOA: Presidential energy and focus directed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel can achieve nothing so long as the Palestinians remain dedicated to the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state – as President Bill Clinton discovered after eight years of vigorous diplomacy].

·         Now, one of the difficulties that we have right now is that in order to make those compromises you have to have strong support from your people. And the Israeli government right now is unsettled [ZOA: The weakness of the Israeli government is hardly the nub of the problem; the absence of a genuine Palestinian leadership and public interested in peace with Israel is the problem. This is the reason why Israelis do not support the Olmert government’s concessionary policy of negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA). Some recent polls show this clearly: 1. A March 4, 2008 Maagar Mohot Survey showed that 54% of Israelis prefer war against Hamas over a ceasefire deal, with 36% disagreeing; 2. A May 2007 Dahaf Institute poll for the Knesset Channel found that 53% oppose withdrawals from Judea and Samaria even in return for a “real peace”; 3. A May 2007 INSS (previously the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies) poll showed that 58% of Israelis reject the ‘land-for peace’ formula].

·         The, you know, the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas. And so it’s difficult for either side to make the bold move that would bring about peace the way, for example, the peace between Israel and Egypt was brought about. Those leaders were in a much stronger position to initiate that kind of peace [ZOA: The violent split between Fatah and Hamas is not the reason Palestinians cannot move forward towards making peace; both groups oppose accepting Israel as a Jewish state, as officials of both organizations have made abundantly clear. The two are therefore divided on issues of power and control, not anti-peace goals like eliminating Israel, on which they are united. Political accord and unity of Fatah and Hamas would not produce peace – witness the 2007 Mecca Agreement, in which the two united on an explicit platform of non-acceptance of Israel and more terrorism. Even the strong Egyptian leadership that permitted a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 did not result in popular Egyptian acceptance of Israel, a real peace of societies or the commitment of the Egyptians towards working for peace and stopping terror. Those failings are bad enough in the case of a treaty with Egypt; these results would be far worse in the event of an agreement with the Palestinian leadership]

·         So one of the things, I think, the United States is going to have to do is to help build capacity, make sure that Israel feels secure. And obviously the tragedy that happened with the bulldozer does not help with their security. That breeds a sense of insecurity” [ZOA: Israel needs to be secure, not made to feel secure – it is an objective requirement, not a subjective desiderata and its absence indicates that peace cannot come at present. A strategic lull only favors the Palestinian terrorists, not the prospects of peace.]

·         And that’s why terrorism is so counterproductive, as well as being immoral, because it makes, I believe, the Israelis want to dig in and simply think about their own security, regardless of what’s going on beyond their borders. I think the same would be true of any people, when these kinds of things happen, and innocent people are injured.” [ZOA: Terrorism can and should induce caution. That is a natural reaction to be welcomed; not a complication that needs to be finessed. Senator Obama preoccupies himself with eliminating obstacles to diplomacy instead of concentrating on eliminating obstacles to peace].

·         On the other hand, I think that the Palestinians have to feel some sense of progress in terms of their economic situation .You know, whether it’s on the West Bank or Gaza, if people continually feel pressed, where they can’t get to their job or they can’t make a living, they get frustrated. And it’s hard for them, if they see no glimmer of hope, to then want to take that leap in order to make concessions.” [ZOA: The Palestinians economic well-being has never been the issue. In neither 1948 nor 1967 did Arabs go to war with Israel on account of economic issues. Moreover, the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were in better economic shape under Israeli rule. Their economic well-being slid steeply under PA rule, and even more so after the PA unleashed hostilities in 2000. The priority Palestinians have given and continue to give to eliminating Israel means they have been willing to sacrifice stability and prosperity to achieve their aims. By implying otherwise, Senator Obama indicates he has not understood this cardinal fact about the Arab war on Israel and suggests that he believes that economic privation lies at the root of terrorism – a misconception that has been rebutted by numerous studies. To name four: 1. A 2001 report by Nasra Hassan, a Pakistani relief worker, based on 250 interviews with aspiring Palestinian suicide bombers and their recruiters concluded that “None were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded or depressed … They all seemed to be entirely normal members of their families.” 2. A poll the same year by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research indicated that Palestinians with more than 12 years’ education were far more likely to support terror attacks than illiterate Palestinians. 3. A 2002 study by Alan Krueger, the distinguished Princeton University economist, showed that members of the Lebanese terror group Hizballah were less likely than other Lebanese to come from poor homes and more likely to have received a secondary school education. & 3. A 2004 study by Dr. Marc Sageman, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and a former CIA case office in Afghanistan during the late 1980s, concluded that “Most Arab terrorists … were well-educated, married men from middle-or upper-class families, in their mid-20s and psychologically stable.”

·         Sometimes I think there’s a tendency for each side to focus on the faults of the other instead of looking in the mirror and seeing what can be done to improve the situation (Transcript: ‘Obama Remarks From Jordan,’ Washington Post, July 22, 2008). [ZOA: Senator Obama shows that his thinking is little different from that of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who argued in November 2000 that each side should not act as “as the singularly aggrieved party waiting for others to respond,” indicating that she had discarded the need for compliance with the terms of the Oslo agreements, something that the PA has never done. Here, too Senator Obama is already foreshadowing that he does not accord any priority to compliance. Not coincidentally, Senator Obama said nothing in his remarks about the key issues that make the attainment of peace impossible under current conditions: the PA’s failure to fulfill its commitments under the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, including its failure to take even minimal steps to combat terrorism; its failure to ban and disband terror groups, jail its members and confiscate their weaponry; its incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feeds terror, including the glorification of terrorism and the honoring of suicide bombers by naming schools, streets and sports teams after them; and the PA’s consistent refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state. While these conditions persist, there is no prospect of peace, yet Senator Obama has not made real change on the ground in these vital areas the cornerstone of his thinking which would indeed signal change and a fresh approach. Instead, unfortunately, his words simply show the old and misconceived policies of papering over differences, ignoring Palestinian malfeasance and pressuring Israel into more concessions that have done nothing to bring peace].


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