Why Obama Is Picking the Wrong Fight

(New York Jewish Week) Gary Rosenblatt - I can't help thinking that President Barack Obama, in his desperate search for a way out of the Israeli-Palestinian standoff, is looking deliberately in the wrong places, picking on Israel - not because it makes sense - but because he can. And because it's more expedient than pressuring the Palestinians and upsetting the oil-rich Arab nations. I believe the president wants to broker a peace deal in the Mideast. But based on his actions in attempting to jumpstart negotiations since taking office, he has shown a disturbing lack of appreciation of the complexities of the issue. And in his haste he has weakened his most vital democratic ally in the region and strengthened those most resistant to Western values, compromise, stability and peace. Obama is also guilty of chutzpah in thinking his very public pressure on Netanyahu can force a change of government in Israel that would be more accommodating of the Palestinians. Obama has picked on the wrong party in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Where is the condemnation - or even mention - of the Palestinian Authority for failure to endorse a two-state solution or acknowledge the right of a Jewish state to exist in the region, and for its praise of suicide bombers as "martyrs?" Why should the Palestinian Authority engage in serious talks with Israel, leading to compromise, when Washington is applying all of the pressure on Jerusalem? The rhetoric we hear from Secretary of State Clinton and from the president is painstakingly symmetrical in its praise or criticism of Israel and the Palestinians. But there is little symmetry. Israel is a democratic ally and vital strategic partner that has consistently been willing to make painful sacrifices for peace, and has made peace with Egypt and Jordan. The PA remains a group founded on and still connected to armed struggle, one that has carried out murderous attacks on innocent civilians, demonizes Israelis and Zionists and has refused every peace-making effort over the years. What's needed now is for Washington to step back and heed its own advice: for decades we heard, and agreed with, the message that peace will only come through direct negotiations between the parties themselves, when they are ready. That's how peace was brokered between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and Jordan. But for now, Obama has managed to give the Palestinians every reason and excuse not to negotiate directly, leaving the impression that Israel is intransigent and the Palestinians willing to compromise, when the very opposite is true.

2010-04-01 07:32:55

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