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Facts and Logic About the Middle East

March 15, 2016

President Obama considering new Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal—at Israel's expense?

Dear Friend of FLAME:

The President's failures in the Middle East are legion—even if you accept his Iran Deal as a success (which, of course, millions of Democrats and Republicans, including we at FLAME and many members of Congress, do not).

First, notwithstanding the nuclear restrictions placed on Iran by Mr. Obama's Deal, the Islamic Republic continues to flaunt its nuclear ambitions, most recently by breaking a U.N. Security Council resolution barring it from testing of ballistic missiles, whose only purpose could be to carry nuclear weapons.

Next, in 2012 Mr. Obama laid down a "red line, forbidding Syria's use of chemical weapons—then backed off when Bashir Assad started using them—which discredited the U.S. immeasurably on the world stage.

The President also abandoned long-time ally, Egypt's Hosni Mubarek—admittedly no paragon of democratic rule—in the face of the so-called Arab Spring uprising, which showed the U.S. to be a disloyal, fair-weather friend. Unfortunately, the disaster that followed Mubarek's overthrow has been incalculably worse for Egyptians.

Then Mr. Obama badly misread the danger of Islamic State (ISIS), calling them a "jayvee" team of terrorists. What's more, despite mounting global terror sown by ISIS and other Muslim groups, the President refuses to use the phrase "Islamic terror" to describe it.

But perhaps most troubling have been Mr. Obama's inept dealings with Israel and his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The President's shabby treatment of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can only be called disgraceful—and bitterly ironic given the President's frequent repetition of his commitment to the "unshakeable bond" between our two countries. The leader of the free world seems to have allowed a personality conflict to shake this commitment, to say nothing of the simple courtesy owed the leader of one of our strongest allies.

Most importantly, Mr. Obama's efforts to bring the Palestinians to the peace table in 2013 were embarrassingly fruitless—especially after Israel agreed to a cessation of new construction in the disputed territories. The Palestinians walked out shortly thereafter.

Now rumors are flying that the President, in order to dress up his tattered Mideast legacy, is entertaining a renewed effort to bring Israel and the Palestinians to the bargaining table—or at a minimum, to establish parameters for a peace deal. If the latter, this might take the form of a U.N. Security Council resolution—a plan that neither Israel nor the Palestinians are likely to welcome.

This week's FLAME Hotline featured article exposes the folly of Mr. Obama's renewed efforts to force peace on the two parties, especially since his previous efforts have completely ignored the unwillingness of the Palestinians to take even the most basic steps toward peace—starting with an acceptance of the Jewish state.

This brief piece, by Commentary's stalwart columnist Jonathan Tobin, outlines Mr. Obama's ongoing disconnect with reality in Israel's Middle East neighborhood and the futility of such an effort to salvage a hopeless legacy in the region. I guarantee this article will help you be a smarter, stronger advocate for the interests of Israel—and the United States.

In addition, I hope you'll also review the P.S. immediately below, which describes FLAME's hasbarah campaign to explain how the mainstream media unfairly fail to make the obvious connection between Islamist terrorism in France, the U.S. and worldwide with terror attacks in Israel.

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Executive Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)


Just a few months ago, the world was shattered by the attacks against innocent civilians in Paris (and then again in San Bernardino), just as we Israel advocates continue to be unnerved by the so-called "knife intifada" being carried out against innocents in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel. Yet the press has been unable to connect the dots between this tale of three cities. That's why FLAME is now publishing a new position paper in media nationwide—which explains how the Paris terrorists' motivation is precisely the same as that of the terrorists in Israel. I urge you to preview this outspoken hasbarah message today: "Paris. Jerusalem." This hard-hitting paid editorial appears in magazines and newspapers, including college newspapers, with a combined readership of some 10 million people. In addition, it has been sent to every member of the U.S. Congress and President Obama. If you agree that this kind of public relations effort 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 donate now. 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 people.

As of today, more than 15,000 Israel supporters receive the FLAME Hotline at no charge every week. If you're not yet a subscriber, won't you join us in receiving these timely updates, so you can more effectively tell the truth about Israel? Just go to free subscription.

What's Obama's real Mideast legacy?

by Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, March 10, 2016

Today's front-page story in the New York Times on President Obama's plans to promote Middle East diplomacy was about as ill-timed as an article could be. It was published on the day after a horrifying murder spree by Palestinian terrorists including an attack in the Old City of Jaffa that took that life of an American tourist who was also a veteran of the U.S. Army. That Vice President Joe Biden was dining not far away when the incident took place only highlighted the indiscriminate nature of the surge in Palestinian terrorism. It also was a reminder that Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority that President Obama has lauded as a champion of peace, is, in fact, a major source of the incitement that has created the current violence.

But just as important, the juxtaposition of the leak to the Times of President Obama's possible plans to promote a resolution laying down the framework for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians at the United Nations with the latest terrorist attacks illustrates everything that is wrong with the administration's Middle East policy. Having come into office determined to create more daylight between Israel and the Palestinians in the mistaken belief that doing so would promote peace, apparently Obama is determined to exit the White House pursuing the same course. Though virtually everything that has happened in the region during the last seven-plus years has proved that his thesis was dead wrong has had no impact on the president's thinking.

As the Times reports, the goal of the lame-duck Obama initiative is nothing less than to "save" the two-state solution, which the president and his foreign policy team believe is dying on their watch. While the details were not laid out in the article, the implication would be that the U.S. would insist on Israeli territorial withdrawals with the 1967 lines as the starting point for discussions, the creation of a Palestinian state and some sort of division of Jerusalem along with security guarantees. In other words, this would be what the foreign policy establishment has spent the last two decades telling us is the solution that "everyone knows" must be implemented.

In theory, some form of this effort might be the ideal solution to the intractable problem of two people struggling over one land. But rather than a gesture for the future that sets out principles that the two sides must point toward, the administration effort is very much mired in the reality of the present. And that is why it would be a colossal mistake that could serve as the starting point for even more violence rather than peace. Indeed, the proposal is a microcosm of all the mistakes made by Obama since January 2009 that exacerbated an already bad situation and set the stage for the very bloodshed that Biden was forced to deplore during his visit.

What's wrong with another UN Security Council resolution on Middle East peace? Some Israelis and others in the foreign policy establishment aren't that worried or impressed by the idea. But the problem with Obama's Middle East diplomacy is that it is resolutely out of touch with the reality on the ground in such a way as to encourage the most destructive impulses within Palestinian society.

After all, the absence of peace isn't due to lack of plans for it. Such plans are a dime a dozen and have been floating around the region for decades. Israel has even agreed to some of them, as evidenced by its offer of peace and independence to the Palestinians in 2000, 2001, and 2008 that would have given them their own state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem. But Yasir Arafat and then his successor Abbas turned down each one. Even the supposedly "hard-line" government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed not only to a two-state solution but also to far-reaching withdrawals from the West Bank. But Abbas not only refused to negotiate seriously but also blew up the talks by making a deal with Hamas and executing an end run around the U.S. to the UN, lest he once again be forced to say no to peace.

Abbas has made it clear he will never say yes to any peace deal because to do so he must recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn. Nor is this mere posturing. It reflects a deeply held consensus within the political culture of Palestinians in which any compromise that forces them to end their century-long war against Zionism is seen as unacceptable. That this intransigence has been a disaster for the Palestinians is not in doubt. But it is one that has persisted in spite of the obvious benefits that might be obtained from peace. But instead of diplomatic efforts being focused on convincing them of the cost of persisting in this position, the U.S. has spent the past several years confirming their belief that sooner or later, the Israelis will be forced to bow to their demands without requiring them to end the conflict for all time.

That is why Biden's statements about the PA having to condemn the Jaffa attack are welcome but too little and too late. After years of beating up the Israelis and treating them as the obstacle to peace, the Palestinians believe the Jewish state is increasingly isolated. With both the U.S. and its European allies continuing to send aid to a PA that continues to praise terrorists as martyrs, so-called "moderates" like Abbas have no incentive to change their policies or even to attempt to begin the work of convincing their people to accept peace. Indeed, Abbas's lies about Israel harming the Temple Mount mosques—a cynical ploy taken right out of the playbook written by the pro-Nazi Haj Amin al-Husseini—was aimed at provoking violence in the home of creating more U.S. pressure on Israel.

The only thing the Obama framework would accomplish is to create more such pressure and, in turn, more incentive for Palestinian terrorism, since both the PA and Hamas, believe, with good reasons, that the international community will never make them pay a price for either their support for terrorism or their refusal to make peace.

If the overwhelming majority of Israelis no longer believe that the two-state solution is viable (a consensus that now united both Netanyahu's Likud and the leading left-wing opposition party), it is because they know that any withdrawal would lead to more terrorism. They also know that the model for an independent Palestinian state is not the utopia envisioned by Obama but the very real entity in Gaza run by Hamas as a terrorist caliphate.

Peace plans that don't take changing this reality as their main focus and starting point are pointless. Worse than that, they convince the Palestinians that they need only wait for the West to abandon Israel. Sadly, President Obama has done much in his time in office to encourage them in that belief. His real Middle East legacy isn't a peace plan but a framework for violence that Israelis and now even American tourists continue to pay for in blood.






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