The reader comments to my posting yesterday were intense. And in more than one instance I was asked why I don’t tell it like it is regarding Obama’s orientation and motivation, when it’s all so clear. I am not seeking to cover for him in any regard. But I choose not to attribute motivations in instances in which I cannot document them and cannot be certain: Does he act this way because he’s a Muslim, because he is an ideological socialist, because he’s been bought by certain interests, etc. etc. A strong case can be made for some of these positions, but what concerns me is the effect of his policy and actions — and, as I see it, he’s bringing America down.
This said, however, there is one distinction that certainly merits contemplation. Is he messing up with regard to genuine American interests because of naiveté, inexperience, bad advice, etc.? Or, as many of my readers suggest, does he know precisely what he’s doing? Is it deliberate?
I’m not going to return to Obama’s interaction with Iran here, in order to consider this premise. But I do want to consider it in a different context: The “peace process.” And for this I turn to Barry Rubin’s latest column, which is called “Lessons not learned.”
Rubin traces the recent history of the settlement issue, with which you will be familiar if you’ve been reading my material:
When Israel signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, it was made clear by the Israeli gov’t that it considered construction in existing settlements to be consonant with the agreement; the Arabs didn’t object and the US had little to say on the subject.
That is, until Obama came into office and, as Rubin says, “made the construction issue the centerpiece of his Middle East policy: sometimes it has appeared to be the keystone of his whole foreign policy…”
But this approach turned out to be an abysmal failure. First he tried to strong-arm Israel, and when Israel balked, he attempted, without success, to secure some concessions from the Arab world in exchange — wrongly assuming, says Rubin , that they are desperate for a peace agreement.
What happened next is that the PA picked up on Obama’s demands and said they wouldn’t come to the table unless we froze everything. The US then actually secured a large concession from Netanyahu: We would stop building in Judea and Samaria — but not in Jerusalem — after we completed current building.
Hillary Clinton enthusiastically praised this gesture, which infuriated the Palestinian Arabs, who then “threw a temper tantrum,” and followed with all sorts of threats. This, says Rubin, is their core strategy: “Why make compromise peace with Israel when you can just claim everything you want, ensuring the door is kept open for a future struggle to wipe Israel off the map entirely?”
So, what did the Obama administration do? Back down on everything except the PA plans for unilateral independence. “Having made a deal with Israel, having gotten Netanyahu to take an enormous risk, it then pulled the rug out from under him.”
Observes Rubin: “Those who always advocate Israeli concessions as the solution should take note. Once again, we’ve seen that a concession doesn’t lead to a concession by the other side nor does it lead to progress. It just produces a demand for more concessions without any real credit for the last one.”
And, as we all know, the next Obama demand was to cease building in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. Quite a big deal was made of it. (Obama said it “embittered” the Palestinian Arabs.) This in spite of the fact that the construction fell within the understanding that had been reached with Netanyahu and praised by Hillary. “…the administration…[showed] not only that it wouldn’t respect agreements… made [by Israel] with predecessors, but it wouldn’t even respect the agreements it made itself.”
“Obama complained that the Gilo construction…makes it harder to achieve peace…
“Funny, he never said this about: PA incitement to terrorism; failure to punish terrorists; negotiations with Hamas despite its hardline positions; genocidal goals; anti-Semitic views…”
“Moreover, having sabotaged negotiations by highlighting the construction-on-settlements issue, the administration has now escalated even higher: no construction in Jerusalem is the minimum demand.
“Of course, Arab states and the PA will echo this, refusing all talks unless this happens. And since Israel will not stop building in Jerusalem…Obama has just guaranteed a dead peace process for his entire term in office. In fact, he’s probably ensured no comprehensive negotiations will take place.” (emphasis added)
OK. Let’s look at this for a minute. The steps taken by Obama have been colossally stupid. Or so we might say, if his goal — as he’s been insisting — really is a negotiated peace between Israel and the PA. He saw that his demand for a settlement freeze created a hardening, an increased intransigence, on the PA side. And then what did he do? He made another demand of Israel, one he KNEW Israel would never accede to. Obama is a political animal: he understood that even if Netanyahu wanted to stop building in Jerusalem (I don’t happen to believe he does), he could not without risking the breakdown of his coalition. And, at the same time, Obama knew, from immediate past experience, that the PA was exceedingly likely to pick up on this and become even more intransigent, in echo of his demand.
And so we must ask: Is he simply very foolish, very innocent and almost totally devoid of diplomatic skills? Is he simply so arrogant that he assumes he can condescend to Israel and make demands of us, at the same time that he stretches himself to show the Muslim/Arab world how sensitive he is to Palestinian Arab feelings? And has he thus inadvertently — and very obtusely — gotten himself into a bind?
Or, does he have ulterior motives, and has he consciously sabotaged what he claims to be seeking? Quite a statement that Rubin made: “Obama has just guaranteed a dead peace process for his entire term in office.”
One of the things that gives pause is the fact that Obama focused on Gilo. I asked, many here asked, why Gilo? Gilo? People were aghast at his approach. Indeed it seemed that his demand was very maximalist. He didn’t pick on demolition of illegal Arab housing or purchase of housing by Jews in Arab neighborhoods (all of which is legit but controversial). He picked on a solid and well-established neighborhood that is totally and thoroughly integrated into the Jerusalem municipality, one built on Jewishly-owned land without even a hint of it being on Arab land, one that is not even to the east of the city, as, say, Har Homa is.
Maybe he’s really so foolish (which is worrisome in itself) that he isn’t aware of all this, and just randomly picked a neighborhood that was doing some building to make a fuss over. But there is sufficient bewilderment ove
r what he did to make one wonder.
I would like to thank those readers who shared with me information on Muslims of dubious or clearly inappropriate background who have been given positions in Homeland Security in the US. There are two of particular note:
Arif Alikhan was appointed by Obama several months ago to be Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security. Responsible for developing policy to secure the nation against terrorism, he killed an LA Police project for monitoring terrorist activities in local radical mosques. He has also referred to Hezbollah as a “liberation movement.”
Kareem Shora was appointed by Obama to Homeland Security’s advisory council, which directly provides advice and recommendations to the Homeland Security Secretary. He was formerly executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which refers to jihadists as “heroes.”
This is from http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2009/nov/devout-muslims-key-homeland-sec-posts and checked out.
A similar item sent to me with regard to Fort Hood terrorist Hasan turned out to not be quite accurate: According to Snopes, he attended one or more meetings organized by George Washington University’s Homeland Security policy institute, but was never actually an advisor to Obama’s Homeland Security Team.
You might also want to see Charles Krauthammer’s piece, “Travesty in New York,” about the Obama government’s plans to grant Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who plotted 9/11, a civil rather than a military trial. One more reason to worry about America.
The rumors are flying fast. I’m always reluctant to spend much time focusing on such rumors, which often turn out to be unfounded. But it’s time to at least mention them here: It is being said that a deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit is almost completed.
Reportedly, the Hamas demand for 1,000 prisoners — including some who perpetrated major attacks — has not changed, but there are conflicting reports as to whom the Netanyahu government might be willing to release, and where (that is, they might not be permitted to return to Gaza or Judea and Samaria).
It chills the heart, and enrages, to imagine that terrorists responsible for the deaths of many innocent Jews might be released. Not to speak of the fact that it puts us all at increased risk and encourages more kidnappings. (I understand that Hamas is offering a considerable amount of money to any Israeli Arab who captures a soldier.)
Netanyahu, referring to the release of these terrorists as a “serious dilemma,” told the Likud faction today that a deal is not close. When the time comes, he said, there will be a debate in the Knesset and a vote in the Cabinet.
Aside from reports from Arab sources, the rumors have been fueled by a trip by President Shimon Peres to Egypt, at the same time that some Hamas officials were known to enter Egypt, and a visit here by German officials (Germany being involved along with Egypt on negotiations.)
Speaking of terrorists in our prisons, there is news about Marwan Barghouti. Serving five life sentences for his involvement in terror attacks, he is frequently touted as a potential savior, who –if he is released from prison– can unite the Palestinian Arabs and bring a peace deal. Well, you can scratch that.
Barghouti has been quoted in Al Hayat Al Jadida newspaper, via a message carried by his lawyer, as saying that Palestinian factions should lead “popular resistance” (violence) to combat building in settlements and the Judaizing of Jerusalem.
“I have always called for creatively combining negotiations with resistance and political, diplomatic and popular activism,” he was quoted as having said. “I warned against relying exclusively on negotiations, but some were late to discover this.”
“Creatively combining negotiations with resistance…” (aka, if you don’t give me what I demand at the table, I’ll come after you and you’ll be sorry). This is pretty much the Palestinian Arab credo and does NOT lead to peace.