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Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
(415) 356-7801

July 22, 2009

Obama meets with American Jewish leaders, explains why he's so cozy with Arabs and so tough on Israel. How well did it work?

Dear Friend of FLAME:

President Obama met with a group of 15 Jewish leaders on July 13 to address their (justifiable) concerns with his administration's overt pressure on Israel, while taking the opposite approach with the Arab world.  Naturally, some of the more right-wing Jewish organizations were excluded from the meeting, while the very left-leaning organization "J Street" was included. 

There was no official transcript of the meeting released by the White House, but several participants confirmed some of the President's comments.  In an article in the LA Times, Peter Wallsten wrote that "Obama, according to participants, said his approach would build more credibility with Arabs, and he criticized the Bush administration policy of unwavering agreement with Israel as ineffective."

Considering the many sacrifices Israel made during the Bush presidency, including a full withdrawal from Gaza and a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians, why shouldn't President Bush have unwaveringly supported our strongest ally?  His strong support heavily influenced Israel's decisions to make these sacrifices, while the Palestinians have given up nothing. 

What has Israel received in return for her sacrifices and willingness to negotiate?  The election of an anti-Israel terrorist organization in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, continued attacks by suicide bombers, and thousands of rockets fired across her borders.  And now President Obama wants to move away from unwavering support.  Does the President really believe that this more "balanced" approach will increase Israel's willingness to make sacrifices? 

The fact that President Obama and his administration seek to approach the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as though both sides have equally valid interests is extremely troubling.  There is no moral equivalency here.  In fact, Israel wants peace . . . and the Palestinians want Israel.

As if we needed more proof, just this past week the deputy head of the Jerusalem chapter of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction broadcast the true nature of the Palestinians' intentions on Palestinian Authority TV.  Kifah Radaydeh stated that "it has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but our goal has never been peace. Peace is a means; the goal is Palestine."  By Palestine, of course, she means the land from the river to the sea---all of Israel.

In Rick Richman's "Contentions" blog article (from Commentary magazine's website) below, he reminds us of Israel's attempts to form a lasting peace with the Palestinians while President Bush was in office.  It is unclear how President Obama determined that there had been no progress under his predecessor.  Perhaps he should also focus on ensuring that there is no "daylight" between the United States and Israel.  It is very likely that real progress would soon follow.

Best Regards,

Dave Nogradi
FLAME Hotline Contributor


If you believe the American administration is putting too much pressure on Israel and not enough on the Palestinians to achieve peace, and if you believe the U.S. is over-emphasizing the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the keystone for Middle East peace, I urge you to read FLAME's latest position paper---The Two-State Illusion: Would it solve the Middle East problem?.  The answer, as you'll see, is a resounding "no."  This recent public relations editorial begins running this month in magazines and newspapers, including college newspapers, that reach more than five million U.S. readers.  In addition, this editorial is mailed to every U.S. Senator and Representative.  Most of all, if you agree that this kind of hasbarah (clarifying message) on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs, especially from the political leaders of the United States.

Averting Their Eyes: Did Jewish Leaders Tell Truth to Power?
by Rick Richman, Contentions, July 14, 2009

[Contentions Blogger] Jennifer Rubin's important post on the meeting yesterday of 14 Jewish organizations with President Obama included this excerpt from a JTA report:

[Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm] Hoenlein said that peace progress was likelier when there was "no daylight" between Israel and the United States. Obama agreed that it must always be clear that Israel has unalloyed U.S. support, but added that for eight years there was "no daylight and no progress."

The following would be my summary of the progress over the past eight years — which Obama apparently ignored in his response to the group:

After the Palestinians rejected an offer of a state at Camp David in 2000, rejected the Clinton Parameters in 2001, and conducted a terror war against Israeli civilians from September 2000-2002, Israel nevertheless agreed in 2003 to the "Performance-Based Roadmap" for the creation of a Palestinian state, despite reservations about the manner in which that plan would actually be implemented.

In 2003 and thereafter, Israel ceased all settlement activity — as it understood that Phase I Roadmap obligation (no new settlements; no building outside settlement boundaries; no financial incentives for Israelis to move to settlements) — and believed American officials agreed with its interpretation of that obligation.

In 2004, after the Palestinian Authority failed to meet its own Phase I Roadmap obligation (sustained efforts to dismantle terrorist groups and infrastructure), Israel nevertheless proposed to dismantle every existing settlement in Gaza (not just "outposts"), remove every Israeli soldier, and turn over the entire area to the Palestinian Authority — in exchange for a written American commitment to defensible borders and retention of the major settlement blocs necessary to insure them.

In 2005, after receiving the American commitment, Israel proceeded to carry out the Gaza disengagement, despite the political and social upheaval within Israel it caused, including the break-up of the ruling party and nationwide demonstrations, and - at State Department insistence - further dismantled four settlements (not just "outposts") in the West Bank as well, to demonstrate the disengagement would be "Gaza First," not "Gaza Last."

In 2006, after the Palestinians elected their premier terrorist group to control their government, Israelis nevertheless re-elected Kadima on a platform of "convergence" (the new name for withdrawal from the West Bank), and would have carried it out but for the attacks by Hamas from Gaza and Hezbollah from Lebanon that caused two wars and finally convinced Israelis further withdrawals were insane.

In 2007, despite the Palestinian failure to carry out its Phase I dismantlement obligation, and its categorical rejection of Phase II (a state with provisional sovereignty before Phase III final status negotiations), Israel agreed to proceed immediately to final status negotiations once again under the "Annapolis Process."

Throughout 2008, Israel negotiated with its "peace partner" under the accelerated process, and offered 100 percent of the West Bank (after land swaps) for a state, with concessions on other major issues, all of which were rejected.

During this eight-year period, the Palestinian concessions (aka reciprocal "progress") can be enumerated more briefly:  zero.  The "peace partner" still demands "every inch" of the West Bank, the entire Old City of Jerusalem, and a "right of return" to Israel for every Palestinian "refugee."  It refuses to negotiate without the immediate and continued cessation of any Israeli population growth in areas Israel will keep in any conceivable peace agreement.

Obama told the group yesterday there is "a narrow window of opportunity" that demands Israel engage in "serious self-reflection" because the Bush administration's approach "was not helpful in advancing the peace process."

Was there no one at the meeting yesterday prepared to challenge Obama's claim about the absence of "progress," or articulate which side has repeatedly rejected an eight-year "window of opportunity" (and consequently needs some "serious self- reflection"), or ask how the continued refusal to endorse the April 14 letter is consistent with any confidence in the president's assurance yesterday of his "unalloyed support," or even back up Hoenlein's suggestion that daylight between the U.S. and Israel is not the path to peace?  No one?

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