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June 6, 2009: Revisiting Obama

July 16, 2009

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

A deluge is the proper word, I think, for the amount of commentary that is being produced with regard to Obama’s speech (with much of it being forwarded to me). Here I will provide key insights and background that I have not yet covered, and then, in the next few days, I hope to turn to other issues.

Please my friends, unless you uncover commentary with a whole different perspective, or news that is startling, do not send me anything else with regard to Obama’s talk.


In his talk, Obama spoke of the Holocaust, and the suffering Jews endured. In practically his next breath, however, he said:

“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people…have suffered in pursuit of a homeland….”

And, following this observation, he went on to say:

“For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history…”


This is deeply troubling — offensive! — and must be challenged at several levels.

There is, first, the unacceptable moral equivalency of his statement: The Jews suffered in the Holocaust…the Palestinians suffered the “nakba” — as if the historical experience of pain of the Palestinians in being “dislocated” is as great as what we endured in the Shoa (Holocaust) when six million died.

Within this formulation is a libelous implication: That just as we endured the Holocaust, we then brought commensurate suffering on another people. But I won’t go in that direction now. For there is more that is unacceptable:

What is also implied in Obama’s statement is that we are entitled to a Jewish state BECAUSE there was a Holocaust. And this too, fits with Palestinian mythology. See, they say, it is because of the Holocaust that they suffered dislocation — the Jews who had nowhere to go came here and pushed them out. Obama doesn’t say, as the Palestinians do — when they lament that they shouldn’t have to suffer because of our problems — that we are not entitled to a state, but his approach leans in this direction.


What Obama misses, when he focuses on the Holocaust as the reason we have a claim to a state, is the entire religious and historical basis for our claim here.

He says not a word about this land as divine Jewish inheritance, and this is critical. From the time of the Patriarchs, we Jews have been tied to this land. But the Muslims say today that we have no religious connection here. They have written us out in their falsified version of things, they have attempted to destroy ancient archeological evidence, and they call this land a Muslim wakf (trust) for eternity. It has gotten so bad that they call the Kotel (Western Wall ) an exclusively Muslim site: the place where Mohammad tied his horse or something. (Arafat denied there was a Temple on the Mount, ever, and Abbas has made similar statements.)

Make no mistake about it. The battle for the Land of Israel is at heart a religious battle, not a political one. By not acknowledging the Jewish connection to the land, Obama has left room for the Arabs to continue to make their claims.


Obama said not a word about our ancient presence here, going back 3,000 years at least: The City of David, the Temple of Solomon, the Machpelah — the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and much more, well before there even was Islam.

And he failed to mention our devotion to the land over the millenia, and our continued presence.

In short, he failed to acknowledge this land as our traditional homeland.


Beyond all of this, he ignored our modern Zionist history and the legitimacy of our claim to the land that is founded in international law.

It was in 1922 that the League of Nations granted to Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine, which charged Britain with “secur(ing) the establishment of the Jewish national home,” which meant, in the words of the Mandate, that Britain was to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land.”

Wording in the Mandate was actually drawn directly from the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. This was a letter that had been written by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, which said, in part: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”


This is still a matter of international law that has never been superceded. The responsibilities born by the League of Nations were assumed by the United Nations. When the UN General Assembly, in 1947, voted for partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, this was only a recommendation, as GA resolutions carry no weight in international law. In any event, the Arabs relinquished all claims by rejecting the recommendation.


To this day, at the very most, Judea and Samaria, which represent the very heartland of the ancient Jewish presence here, can be said to be unclaimed Mandate land. By no stretch of the imagination is it a given that this is “Palestinian” land or land which is destined, either morally or legally, to be a Palestinian state. This is yet another myth that the world has bought.

The Green Line was an armistice line from the end of the War of Independence in 1949 — it is not the demarcation of our border. In fact, when Israel and Jordan signed an armistice agreement, written into it was the understanding that future negotiations on a final border for Israel would not be prejudiced by the armistice line.

We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, “occupiers” in Judea and Samaria. This is land to which we have a most legitimate claim (a claim enhanced by the fact that in modern times we re-acquired it in a defensive war). Legally,”occupation” occurs only when one sovereign nation moves into the land of another sovereign nation. This is simply not the case here.


Egypt moved into Gaza, and Jordan into Judea and Samaria, in 1949. In 1964, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded. In its charter was a statement that the PLO made no claim against either Egypt or Jordan. That is, there was no claim that Gaza and Judea and Samaria had to be turned over to the Palestinians for a state. It was only Israel within the Green Line that was to be “liberated.”

Only after Israel acquired control of Gaza and Judea and Samaria in 1967 did the PLO claim that it had a right to these areas for a state. But in point of fact, UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the Six Day War, does not even mention either the Palestinian people or a Palestinian state.

It speaks about pullback of Israel from “territories” but not “all territories”: It was never the intention of the framers of this resolution that Israel should return to the Green Line. Withdrawal from whatever territories would not, in any event, take place until Israel was also provided with respect for her sovereignty and territorial integrity, and her right to live in peace within secure borders was acknowledged. This was all to be accomplished concurrently. Under no conditions was Israeli withdrawal conceived of as a precondition, something to be done absent the other stipulations of the resolution.

Israel is absolutely not in non-compliance with the resolution because she hasn’t withdrawn from territories. It was not expected that Israel would move from one inch until secure boundaries for Israel were accepted by all belligerents.

There is no legal reason for us to not have settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Even Oslo in no way restricted our right to these settlements.


How different this legal reality is from the way the world has come to perceive the situation. This is information that every Jew and every lover of Israel must possess.

We must publicize the realities of the situation continuously and energetically in every possible forum. We must speak out, finally, to tell our narrative and claim our rights.


According to news yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beitenu) told reporters in Washington, after meetings he held with government officials and members of Congress, that “Israel won’t give up on the continuation of construction in settlement blocs. “Even if it results in a harsh response from the American administration and tension with Washington, it will ultimately dissipate.”

Right on!


Israel’s official response after Obama’s talk was appropriate and also demonstrated strength:

“The Government of Israel expresses its hope that this important speech in Cairo will indeed lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Moslem world and Israel.

“We share President Obama’s hope that the American effort heralds the beginning of a new era that will bring about an end to the conflict and lead to Arab recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, living in peace and security in the Middle East.

“Israel is committed to peace and will make every effort to expand the circle of peace while protecting its interests, especially its national security.”



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