On May 22, 2011, President Obama followed up his controversial May 19 speech on the Middle East and Palestinian/Israel conflict with an address to the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). Some political pundits assert that he backed down from previous assertions concerning Israel’s boundaries made in his May 19 speech on the Middle East. Though charming and conciliatory in tone when speaking to the 10,000 pro-Israel AIPAC delegates, as I read his speech I cannot agree with those pundits. As far as I can see, he did not back down or change his central assertions that Israel must fully withdraw its military from Judea and Samaria and that Israel must agree to establishing its new borders along pre-1967 borders.
…no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under the current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable. That is why on Thursday, I stated publicly the principles that the United States believes can provide a foundation for negotiations toward an agreement to end the conflict …
That doesn’t sound like backing down to me. That sounds like a defense or justification for those assertions.
Obama’s Justifications Restated
He also restated three reasons/justifications (and added a fourth and very disturbing new justification) for his controversial initiative and push for indefensible pre-1967 borders as a pre-condition for peace. He continues:
First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian territories. This will make it harder and harder-without peace-to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state. Second, technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace. And third, a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
However, it is his fourth and disturbing new justification that really caught my attention.
In his words:
Just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There is a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is impatience with the peace process — or the absence of one. Not just in the Arab World, but in Latin America, in Europe, and in Asia. That impatience is growing, and is already manifesting itself in capitols around the world. …But the march to isolate Israel internationally — and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations — will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. For us to have leverage with the Palestinians, with the Arab states, and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success.
Translation: In other words, though the US is trying hard to stand with you, Israel, you now have to satisfy and negotiate with not only the Palestinians and bordering Arab states but also an alienated and pro-Palestinian “international community”. Israel — can’t you see? The whole world is against you. The Palestinians are unilaterally angling to obtain official statehood status at the UN. They will get it. That would be a disaster for you. I’m just trying to head off that catastrophe. Your only chance is to follow my strategy whether you like it or not. Help me help you!
I believe the President is also inferring that he can’t hold off Arab and international aspirations forever. Though he professes his support of Israel his support was very uncertain in the Gaza Flotilla incident last May. Only at the last second did he veto an extremely anti-Israel resolution by the UN Security Council.
All of this to say that President Obama’s intentions towards Israel , at the very least, remain very uncertain and unclear.
Watch very closely what a leader does–not what he says–to know his true intentions.
God’s promise to Israel in the latter days:
If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you. (Isaiah 54: 14)