Obama’s Speech to Aipac

Take away the inevitable bouquets to his audience, and the President’s message to Israel could not have been much clearer. I would paraphrase it as “time is running out, we cannot play this game much longer, it’s time to sit down and get serious about peace.”

I think it was Saeb Erekat who coined the metaphor of the pizza: this most articulate of Palestinian spokesmen said, in effect, that we Arabs keep talking about how to divide the pizza, and all the time the other side is eating it. It’s true, successive Israeli governments have been talking about peace for decades now, while the settlements create ever more intrusive ‘facts on the ground’. All the evidence points to their strategy as one of stalling for more time, while blaming their adversaries for the apparently endless delays. And on present form, they seem to think they can continue on this course indefinitely.

Israeli rationalizations have become threadbare and transparent, to the point where every nation everywhere, outside our borders, sees through them. The point is fast approaching where Israel will become as isolated by world opinion as South Africa ever was before apartheid ended. This is a historical inevitability, unless Israeli leaders rise to the occasion and say enough, we’ve taken as much as we can, we recognize it’s time to stop, and deal with the Palestinans and the world on the basis of what we have right now.

I ask all Americans to stop at this point and consider whether the President may actually be right on this call, which he knows runs up against a powerful lobby and a conventional wisdom widely shared in our country. Do we really want our country to be dragged into the status of world pariah by association? Are we willing to face the unpredictable strategic and economic costs this could entail? Are we convinced that our fraternal bonds with Israel are so strong that we must follow them even when a strong case can be made that a serious nudge from us would be in their own interest?

The President has made a cautious effort to apply such a nudge. He deserves support from thinking Americans of all political persuasions, as well as from the rest of the world, including the millions of Israelis who can see the handwriting on the wall.

CSC 5/22/2011

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3 Responses to Obama’s Speech to Aipac

  1. Thoth says:

    Are there any votes coming up in Congress that we should lobby our representatives in congress to support related to this? There’s a vote coming up in the U.N. in September calling for a Palestinian state–a vote which Obama says he doesn’t yet support–but should we lobby Obama, the democrats, or the state department to actually support that vote in the face of Bibi’s opposition to anything constructive, and in face of some Republicans saying they should follow Bibi’s example of obstinateness in everything coming from the President?

  2. Carl Coon says:

    Good suggestion. I don’t have the means to answer it but maybe someone else will.

  3. Thoth says:

    CNN’s Fareed called Bibi on his games with a blunt piece today and a video of Bibi’s earlier statements from years ago about being opposed to a two state solution. Here’s the quote and the link:

    Fareed’s Take: Netanyahu doesn’t want a deal

    The real revelation, which has been picked up by many in the Israeli press, is that it shows finally that Netanyahu simply doesn’t want a deal. He always has a new objection, a new problem, a new delaying tactic because, at core, he has never believed that the Palestinians should have a state.

    Here is the young Bibi, 33 years ago, at a forum in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

    “I think the United States should oppose the creation of a Palestinian state for several reasons, the first one being that it is unjust to demand the creation of a 22nd Arab state and a second Palestinian state at the expense of the only Jewish state. There is no right to establish the second one on my doorstep, which will threaten my existence. There is no right whatsoever.”

    Prime Minister Netanyahu’s references to the indefensible borders of 1967 last week also reveal him to be mired in a world that has really gone away. The chief threat to Israel today is not from a Palestinian army. Israel has the region’s strongest economy and military by far, complete with an arsenal of nuclear weapons.


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