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Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
When Obama pressures Israel to stop settlements, he ignores the facts and lessons of history
Friend of FLAME:
As President Obama has talked with Arab leaders, they have all told him that
there can be no negotiations as long as Israel is building or expanding
settlements. Obama has taken them at their word and promised them that he will
Unfortunately, our President is unaware that these same leaders always have
some justification: Today it's settlements, before it was the return of Palestinian
refugees, or the issue of Jerusalem, or something else. Why was there no negotiated
agreement in 1948 or at any time prior to 1967, when there were no settlements?
The answer of course is that no concessions, other than the elimination
of a Jewish state, will be satisfactory to the Arabs.
So our President and Secretary Clinton have decided to be tough on Israel.
They have listened to the Arab leaders, as well as anti-Israel groups in the
US, including the Jewish ones (J Street, Israel Policy Forum, Tikkun), and
concluded that the U.S. must be the tough parent and force the recalcitrant
child (Israel) to do what will eventually work to bring about peace.
Unfortunately, neither our President nor any of those pushing him in this
direction, are aware of history. Worse, there is an arrogance in the belief
by the circle around the President that they know better than the Israelis who
actually live in the region, and who have lived with constant rocket attacks,
suicide bombers, and repeated warfare.
Obama seems to believe that history began when he took office, in his claim
that Israel must finally reach out with peace gestures.
History tells us that a Jewish state in that part of the world is not only
a reaction to the Holocaust, (as Obama seems to believe) but much more. History
tells us how various plans have collapsed under the weight of Arab intransigence.
History tells us of the many times (contrary to Obama's Cairo speech) that
Israel has reached out to its neighbors and offered peace. History tells us
that the one time that part of the Arab world (Egypt) listened, they
received all of their land back, even though much blood had been expended in
a defensive war that resulted in that land coming under Israeli control.
We are faced with a blindness to the lessons of history, an arrogance and
self-righteousness that serves no one's interests. There is a lack of recognition
that only one factor prevents peace, and that is Arab rejection of a Jewish
state in the Middle East. In all the cries for Netanyahu to say the magic
words (two states), no one is calling for the Palestinians to say they will
accept that one of those states will be a Jewish state. Neither Fatah nor Hamas
have shown any willingness to accept this, but have specifically said no.
And then there is Iran. A nation racing to develop militarized nuclear weapons,
who have denied the Holocaust while threatening another one. While Iran is
vowing to obliterate Israel, our President sees no need for serious
time restraints. He tells us he will give it to the end of the year, then consider
sanctions. Yet with the settlements, he tells us "time is of the essence".
Indeed, Obama's new, so-called evenhanded approach ignores which party has
historically reached out, and which has consistently rejected any serous peace
negotiations. Israel has much to lose by angering the U.S. But the time
may come when there is no choice, when the national interest of Israel means
that peremptory and dangerous orders from the US must be ignored.
The excellent article below, by commentator Charles Krauthammer, exposes Obama's
recent Middle East overtures as unrealistic in leading to peace and patently
unfair to Israel.
So why is Obama leaning on Israel? Simple. Because he can. Read on.
Lawrence W. White,
If you agree that Israel should not be pressured to make concessions
unfairly to Arabs who freely admit they want nothing more than to obliterate
the Jewish state---and who have demonstrated this consistently for the
last seven decades---please review the recent FLAME position paper---"The
"Root Cause" of the Middle East Turmoil: Would peace descend if the Arab-Israeli
conflict were resolved?" While the Obama administration seems to believe
that an Israel-Palestinian agreement is the linchpin of Middle East peace,
history---and this powerful FLAME position paper---tell us otherwise. This
editorial piece has run in national media delivering more than ten million
impressions, including to college students and all U.S. Senators and Representatives. We
also recently posted another excellent article on the subject of U.S. pressure
on Israel, called "Don't
Blame Israel," by Alan Dershowitz, which appeared in the New
York Post. Please check it out. Above
all, if you agree that FLAME's outspoken brand of public relations on Israel's
behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's ability to
influence public opinion---including the administration's tendency to hold
Israel solely responsible for peace in the Middle East---comes from Israel's
supporters 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 http://www.factsandlogic.org/make_a_donation.html.
Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support
it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American
|| President Obama has asked for input from U.S. citizens on his
Middle East policies. To give him yours, please go right now to write
Dispelling the Myth that Israel's Settlements Are the Key to Middle East
By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 5, 2009
President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy be conducted
with modesty and humility. Above all, there will be no more "dictating" to
other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating
solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told
al-Arabiya, America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too
often the United States starts by dictating."
An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone—Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria,
even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a
stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth
What's the issue? No "natural growth" means strangling to death
the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of
Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel
retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if
you have babies, no housing for them—not even within the existing
town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out.
No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and
destroy these towns—even before negotiations.
To what end? Over the past decade, the U.S. government has understood that
any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining some of the close-in
settlements—and compensating the Palestinians accordingly with land from within
That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations
in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. After all, why expel people from their
homes and turn their towns to rubble when, instead, Arabs and Jews can stay
in their homes if the 1949 armistice line is shifted slightly into the Palestinian
side to capture the major close-in Jewish settlements, and then shifted into
Israeli territory to capture Israeli land to give to the Palestinians?
This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both Democratic and Republican
administrations for the past decade, but was agreed to in writing in the letters
of understanding exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004—and
subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.
Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to endorse these agreements
or even say it will honor them. This from a president who piously insists that
all parties to the conflict honor previous obligations. And who now expects
Israel to accept new American assurances in return for concrete and irreversible
Israeli concessions, when he himself has just cynically discarded past American
The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. Is
the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem
is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren? It is
perverse to make this the center point of the peace process at a time when
Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and
when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert's peace offers,
brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode—waiting for Hamas to become
moderate and for Israel to cave -- before he'll do anything to advance peace.
In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo yesterday,
Obama declared that the Palestinian people's "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed
it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people
corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership
that for three generations rejected every offer of independence and dignity,
choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied
by the extinction of Israel.
That's why Haj Amin al-Husseini chose war rather than a two-state
solution in 1947. Why Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in 2000.
And why Abbas rejected Olmert's even more generous December 2008 offer.
In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over
to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals,
none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people's
suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and
terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into
their Swiss bank accounts.
Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of
that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one
concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not
accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing
the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel
and the settlements.
Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may
curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the
Arab states to do like Abbas: Sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on
a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.
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