Sunday, April 18, 2010

Advice to President Obama: Listen to Candidate Obama

(AP) — An unidentified Israeli official has confirmed that private discussions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu included an urgent request from the President that the traditional closing refrain “next year in Jerusalem” be deleted during the upcoming Passover holiday, calling the ancient passage provocative and unhelpful for the future of peace talks. Calling it “an easy fix,” Obama strongly urged the Jewish People to replace it with “next year in peace” or “next year in Tel Aviv,” leaving the exact wording to final status talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu is said to have balked at the request, indicating that the refrain dates back well before the UN Partition of 1947 and well before the U.S. Declaration of Independence, for that matter. The Prime Minister reportedly attempted to diffuse the situation by offering to remove it from the conclusion of the lesser-known Yom Kippur service, and suggesting the phrase was defunct anyway since Jews have controlled all of Jerusalem since 1967. However, a visibly irritated President Obama flatly rejected the compromise, adding it was another indication the “stiff-necked” Prime Minister did not appear “serious about peace.”

Shortly after the meeting, both sides issued a terse statement saying that no agreement had been reached on the matter.

Thus reads a satire being passed around Internet.

That such a satire would even be distributed is a sad commentary on how much distrust President Obama has generated with his shabby treatment of Israel, our only real friend and the only true democracy in the Middle East.

Even more telling is that many people, including a very astute college professor I know, at first thought it was authentic!

In 2008, Candidate Barack Obama insisted "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

In 2010, President Barack Obama is not only insisting that Israel negotiate about dividing its capital - even while the Palestinian Arabs refuse to negotiate but get a free pass - but insists that portions of Jerusalem be off-limit to Jews.

As a senator in 1995, our current vice president co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which, among other provisions, stated it is the policy of the United States that "Jerusalem should remain an undivided city" and "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel."

Perhaps Obama's complete reversal and his actions in conflict with officially legislated American policy could be justified if they had a chance of promoting peace, but the reality is otherwise.

A few days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted: "The status quo is unsustainable for all sides."

The status quo consists of the United States continually pressuring Israel to make concessions, even as the Palestinian Arabs continue to reject peace regardless of the incentives.

With his newly-acquired phobia of any construction of homes for Jews in the disputed territories, even while there is massive construction of homes for Arabs in the same disputed territories, President Obama engineered a lost year. 2010 was the first year since the start of the failed Oslo Process during which there were no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

With his temper tantrum over the possible future building of a handful of homes in the predominantly Jewish, northwest Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, President Obama has torpedoed even the indirect talks Abu Mazen had seemingly condescended to.

For many years, we have rewarded the Palestinian Arabs for their obstruction, rejectionism and even for their terrorism while penalizing Israel for its eagerness to make peace. We have not been an honest broker.

It's time to heed the implications of the words of Secretary of State Clinton and change course.

To promote peace, we need to start showing the Palestinian Arabs there will be a price to pay if they keep obstructing efforts to bring about peace.

Perhaps the most effective way to get that message across would be to start encouraging Israeli construction in the disputed territories and to make it clear that the longer the Palestinian Arabs put off coming to terms with the existence of Israel and refusing to make peace, the less territory they'll eventually get.

An appropriate start would be the implementation of the key provision of the legislation Vice President Biden co-sponsored in 1995 and move our Israeli embassy to the city it belongs, the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.

That would be a change we could believe in.

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