Weekly Commentary: Some quick observations regarding President Obama's Cairo
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 4 June 2009
Some quick observations regarding Obama Addresses Muslim World in Cairo
#1 Obama's insult to Saudi Arabia?
After visiting Saudi Arabia, where it is against the law for Christians to
worship freely, Obama says the following in Cairo:
"The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom. Islam
has a proud tradition of tolerance.I saw it firsthand as a child in
Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly
#2. Absence of pluralism in thought on Arab-Israeli affairs
When President Obama ponders every and any other issue in the world there is
the traditional pluralistic approach that entertains the possibility that
one doesn't have a monopoly on wisdom. But when it come to the "two state
solution" religion, there is no place and no space to consider alternative
views that do not embrace this dogma.
the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through
two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true. "
Is Mr. Obama asserting that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is a figment
of our imagination?
#3. Equivalence of rights to exit
"At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to
exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. "
And what if they are mutually exclusive? Oops.
And where is it etched in stone that a Palestinian "autonomous state", where
Palestinians enjoy self rule but are denied the means to destroy the Jewish
state is not acceptable?
#4 The big lie - settlements violate agreements and undermine peace process
". Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and
undermines efforts to achieve peace."
Palestinian complaints about settlement activity cite Article XXXI Paragraph
7 of the Interim Agreement: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step
that will change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip pending the
outcome of the permanent status negotiations."
The meaning of "status" means "legal status". A violation of the agreement
would take place if Israel annexed part of the West Bank or Gaza Strip or
the PA declared an independent state in the area before the negotiations
were concluded. Israeli settlement activity is no more a violation of the
Agreement than Palestinian construction. Many Palestinian officials
recognize this and instead argue that the settlements are not "in the spirit
of Oslo". But the agreements are legal documents, and as legal documents
what counts is what is written - not some amorphous "spirit".
Israeli settlement activity is the only action from the Israeli side which
threatens the Palestinians with the prospect that the deal they may refuse
today may be considerably better than the deal that Israel will be able or
willing to offer tomorrow. Even if the negotiations are bogged down due to
Palestinian intransigence and Israeli redeployments are postponed, all of
this is temporary in nature. A short blip in the century old Arab-Israeli
conflict. But settlement activity is quite another story. Growing
settlements define areas which the Israeli national consensus will never
support returning. Settlements stretching on key roads turn the tables on
future possible solutions, ending the isolation of Israeli settlements and,
in turn, isolating Arab villages.
Besides encouraging the Palestinians to lower their demands and
expectations, settlement activity, if properly packaged, can be used as a
prime tool in the battle against terror. Historically, settlements were
considered the "Zionist response to terror." A look at the map of modern
Israel finds it sprinkled with the names of settlements named in memory of
the victims of various Arab attacks. Today's terrorists are popular folk
heroes in Palestinian society. The cost to the Palestinians of terror, in
the form of restrictions on movement and commerce, may be painful, but the
pain is temporary in nature. Large terrorist attacks may postpone Israeli
redeployments and talks, but, again, these are temporary setbacks.
Terrorist attacks may, in fact, be viewed in the long run by the
Palestinians as serving their interests by softening Israel's resolve. When
one well known Israeli Leftist declared in an interview on Israel Radio
after the bus bombings in Jerusalem that "we celebrated the day that the
wall dividing Jerusalem was torn down in 1967 and we will celebrate the day
it is erected again" this was not lost on the Palestinians.
But what if the Netanyahu Administration returns to the "Zionist response to
terror"? Sure, the Palestinians won't be pleased to learn that the "Shchunat
Munk" neighborhood is being built in the memory of the Munk family recently
murdered in a drive-by shooting. But will the murderers still be the same
heroes they were before their action lead to the building of yet more Jewish
The "Zionist response to terror" has another benefit. Besides deterring Arab
terror, it would serve to bolster the morale of the Israeli public by
offering it a positive emotional outlet through which to respond to Arab
terror. By establishing living memorials, Israel would be effectively
saying: "We are on the map. Terror will not vanquish."
It is said that the Arabs decided to make peace with Israel when they came
to the conclusion that they could not destroy the Jewish State on the
battlefield. By the same token, settlement activity today may very well
convince the Palestinians that they must compromise now or face the
prospects of a considerably worse deal in the future.
5. The Pope was sorry Israel needed security measures - Obama just wants
Consider this contrast:
The Pope recognizes that Israel needs to carry out security measures:
"One of the saddest sights for me during my visit to these lands was the
wall. As I passed alongside it, I prayed for a future in which the peoples
of the Holy Land can live together in peace and harmony without the need for
such instruments of security and separation"
The Pope's deporting remarks - 15 May 2009
President Obama doesn't mention Israel's security needs:
"Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can
live, and work, and develop their society. "
So Israel should let the trucks carrying cement and rebar into Gaza so that
Hamas can build more reinforced positions for its war against the Jewish
State? Roadblocks should be dropped even if it means dead Israelis from
6. Obama's vision of open Jerusalem is here today - not under other
"when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and
Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully
Mr. Obama describes the situation today in Jerusalem. The only restrictions
on access are security related. The more solid the "calm" the broader the
access to all.
Only those who are profoundly blinded by an ideological-religious commitment
to removing Israeli sovereignty from Jerusalem can argue that some
house-of-cards arrangement can replace Israeli sovereignty and still have
Jerusalem as "a place for all of the children of Abraham" - including
Jews - " to mingle peacefully together."
It takes absolutely no imagination to come up with a score of scenarios in
which the various "solutions" proposed lead to restrictions and ultimately a
ban on Jewish prayer at places also held holy by other faiths.
It should be noted that the true model of "a place for all of the children
of Abraham to mingle peacefully together" is the Tomb of the Patriarchs (aka
Ibrahim Mosque) in Hebron where not only do Jews and Moslems pray within
close proximity, there are even arrangements to enable each faith to use the
entire facility on their special holidays.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
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