The Right’s Nutty Reaction to Obama’s Middle East Speech

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

President Obama’s middle east speech contained this exact quote: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

So started the insanity. The fact that this has been the U.S. policy over several administrations seems to be lost on the outraged.

Even the NY Times is getting into the act. In one sentence they claim that “using the 1967 boundaries as the baseline for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute” is a first by an American president, and just two paragraphs later quote President George W. Bush using the phrase: “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” another way of describing the 1967 boundaries. Those two statements, by Obama and Bush, convey the same concept.

In 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.

Where was the manufactured outrage then?

In 2008 President George W. Bush, on a middle east trip, said:

I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous.

In 2005 President George W. Bush, at a White House meeting, said:

Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be mutually agreed to.

President Obama is following the same policies put forth by George W. Bush. To claim that Obama’s speech represents some departure from previous U.S. policy is absurd.

Andrew Sullivan notes the immediate hysteria and hypothesizes that “it was the Israelis who immediately got their US media mouthpieces to spin the speech as some sort of attack.”

Anonymous Liberal tweeted:

I never cease to be amazed by the right-wing’s ability to – in unison – decide that a previously uncontroversial position is now anathema

H/T: Kevin Drum, Walter Russell Reed (cool image at bottom), Jeffrey Goldberg, Charles Johnson.

32 thoughts on “The Right’s Nutty Reaction to Obama’s Middle East Speech

  1. Why should the US have a position in the conflict at all? Because we’ve funded both sides of it for decades?

  2. From my local paper:

    ” By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

    Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press
    In the Oval Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu discusses Israel’s issues with President Obama.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to think that America’s role in the Mideast should be to keep quiet while sending huge amounts of aid to Israel and guaranteeing its security no matter what.
    The arrogance is breathtaking. And the lack of gratitude for the sacrifices America has made to protect Israel, with money and political capital, is infuriating.
    In his speech Thursday on the Mideast, Obama restated a policy that has been a basis of American diplomacy through several administrations, both Democratic and Republican — that a final settlement must establish two secure states with a border that roughly follows the lines that existed before the 1967 war.
    After the two men met Friday, Netanyahu responded with a pompous lecture in the Oval Office that distorted Obama’s statement. Israel, Netanyahu said, can never return to the 1967 borders because so many Israelis now live in Jewish settlements on the Palestinian side of the divide.
    But Obama never said Israel should retreat to precisely those lines. Like other American presidents, he recognizes that the only reasonable solution is for Israel to absorb the most densely populated settlements, and to compensate the Palestinians by swapping land that is now on the Israeli side of the line. Given that about 80 percent of Jewish settlers live within five miles of Israel proper, such a compromise is possible.
    Why Netanyahu would distort the president’s position is anyone’s guess. But it’s likely that he saw a tough televised speech in the Oval Office as a chance to throw red meat to restive hard-line members of his coalition in Israel. Republican Mitt Romney, always an opportunist, accused Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus” for political reasons of his own.
    The criticism is entirely unfair. In fact, the last time Israel made a reasonable offer of peace was in 2000, in the waning days of the Clinton administration. At that time, Israel had agreed to precisely the sort of swap that Obama is suggesting.
    No, Israel is not the main barrier to peace. The Palestinians are. They rejected that reasonable offer in 2000, a historic blunder. And Palestinian voters later handed power to Hamas, a terrorist group whose charter calls for the elimination of Israel and whose idea of legitimate military action is to fire rockets into civilian neighborhoods in Israel.
    The Palestinian Authority’s recent embrace of Hamas underscores how dysfunctional the Palestinian polity has become.
    But Israel still needs to leave open a path to peace, and that has to include a willingness to negotiate a map along the lines Obama suggests.
    Territorial compromise is not even the hardest part. The two sides will have to settle the status of Jerusalem, sacred ground to both. The Palestinian demand that refugees from the 1948 war be allowed to return to their homes in Israel, and the Israeli demand to keep troops in the Jordan River valley present huge hurdles as well.
    The truth is leaders on both sides can’t make concessions on those tougher issues until they condition their people to accept them. A territorial compromise might start to build the necessary good will.
    If Netnayahu has a better strategy to achieve peace, it’s time to hear it.”

  3. Anonymous Liberal tweeted:

    I never cease to be amazed by the right-wing’s ability to – in unison – decide that a previously uncontroversial position is now anathem

    Nal,

    …missing the “a” and closing quotation mark…, but it’s the perfect ending.

  4. Correction to my correction…

    Nal,

    It’s missing the “a”… (Forget the quotation mark.)

  5. From the article eniobob quotes:

    “If Netnayahu has a better strategy to achieve peace, it’s time to hear it.”

    Netnayahu has no interest in peace is a huge part of the problem. His interests are solely in the neocon definition of victory. A victory which in no way allows for a Palestinian state.

  6. “History is a myth agreed upon.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)

    Most of what I read is obviously meant to convince rather than to inform. Presenters, so intent on finding points to support their side, will quickly bury a piece of truth that doesn’t fit their position.

    What I do know for certain is that archeologists have found hybrid Emmer wheat at Jericho dating from before 8,000 B.C., making it one of the oldest sites of agricultural activity in the world. Many peoples have fought each other to control this pile of dirt … the Israelis and Palestinians are simply the latest contenders.

    Quite frankly, the Israelis won a long time ago. It’s been 44 years since the 1967 6-day war and no one has come up with a suitable plan as to what to do with the displaced Palestinians.

    Perhaps if all concerned spent even 1/2 the energy on solving the problem as they do on building the myth around the problem, peace could be reached.

    Until the next set of dirt contenders appears …

  7. “and no one has come up with a suitable plan as to what to do with the displaced Palestinians.”

    That’s the heart of the matter.

    Nobody wants them. Israel does not and is not willing to accept a 2 state solution, and from there springs all the rhetoric. The surrounding Arab countries already have some numbers of Palestinians living among them, but nobody wants roughly 4 million mostly uneducated and agricultural Arabs.

    I would like those Palestinians to move to the U.S. I reckon it would cost less than we’ve already spent our godawful wars, and be the spring from which all sorts of goodness flows.

    Even if Israel were to accept a 2 state solution, the geography of the land that would be given to the Palestinians would be the junk part. Israel is both tiny and 55% desert.

    Here’s a good documentary in torrent format. It’s 2GB and free. Both Jews and Palestinians are given a voice, and there are some jewels in the things they say in bringing light to the matter.

    http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/4494217/Route_181_-_Fragments_of_a_Journey_in_Palestine-Israel_(2002)

  8. Obama: ’67 borders reflects long-standing policy

    AP – President Barack Obama arrives to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention …
    By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press – 36 mins ago
    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama warned America’s pro-Israel lobby on Sunday that the Jewish state will face growing isolation without a credible Middle East peace process. He defended his endorsement of a future Palestine based on Israel’s 1967 boundaries but subject to negotiated land swaps as a public expression of long-standing U.S. policy.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110522/ap_on_re_us/us_obama

  9. You know, if this were uttered by an actual conservative, the reaction would be much howling, rending of garments, and gnashing of teeth over the RAAAAAAACIST! sterotyping and lack of trans-national, multi-cultural, sensitivity.

    But since it’s deployed in service to President Obama? Well, that’s different; as always, by any means necessary…

    Mr. Obama’s pronouncement was completely incongruent with what Bush said. All of Bush’s statements stress adjustments to the armistace line agreed to by all parties, taking current realities into account. Mr. Obama simply referred to the 1967 border with some territory swaps. No matter how much they are parsed, spun, or massaged after the fact in order to assert they are the same, they are not.

    And the assertion of some Jewish cabal in the media is insulting to all Americans who support Israel, and object to the treatment of our closest allies in the middle east by this administration.

  10. rending of garments?

    biblical hyperbole may only be used in support of israel.

    pres bush
    All of Bush’s statements stress adjustments to the armistace line agreed to by all parties, taking current realities into account

    pres obama
    simply referred to the 1967 border with some territory swaps

    too bad pres bush couldn’t have been that eloquent on his own

    so how are they different?

  11. It is obvious that Obama spake twice to AIPAC, with the expectation that they will fill up his coffers to finance the continuation of his failing presidency.

    As to the Israelis, they knew all along that they have to violate Biblical(1) and International laws and “establish facts on the ground.” Now, that they stole from the Palestinians the bulk of their lands, the have the khuzpah to claim that the “border settlement(s)” have to recognize the “new situation” where Jewish settlers (i.e. -squatters) and their need to have “territorial continuity” with mainland Israel.

    The UN’s General Assembly seems to be the only Body / Organization which indeed understood the perennial “foyle shticks” (foul tricks) of the Israelis, issuing almost annually, in the past 40 years resolution upon resolution demanding Israeli withdrawal from the occupied areas AFTER 1967.

    The US is now ripping what it sow by encouraging Israel, no, strike that, by assisting and abetting Israel to pillage the Palestinians for so many years. This open, pussy wound is the cause of US hatred in the Middle-East.

    (1)Hast thou killed and also taken possession?

  12. President Obama reiterates his previous statement in Remarks by the President at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011

    Now, that is what I said. And it was my reference to the 1967 lines — with mutually agreed swaps — that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.

    By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people — (applause) — and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people — each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. (Applause.)

    If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance.

  13. “Netnayahu has no interest in peace is a huge part of the problem. His interests are solely in the neocon definition of victory. A victory which in no way allows for a Palestinian state.”

    Buddha,

    I agree with the overall thrust of your statement, with some quibbles. Clearly Bibi does not want peace. He is driven by two political imperatives, that are not necessarily mutually inclusive. The first s the support of the Ultra-Orthodox, who want to annex all lands as fulfillment of what they think is Torah imperatives. This drives the settlement movement as an attempt to create a fait accompli and s supported by many Fundamentalist Christians who want to establish the conditions for the End Times.

    The second is that Bibi is a Corporatist and so is supported by the US Corporatists. While Corporate interests don’t necessarily
    include keeping the territories, the Fundamentalists help keep intact the coalition keeping Likud in power.

  14. Mike,

    I’ll accept your quibbles as stipulations. The Neocons are indeed corporatists who use fundamentalists to their own profit driven ends (as opposed to being “true believers”).

  15. From last Nov. 11:

    A Joint Statement From Clinton And Netanyahu

    The Prime Minister and the Secretary agreed on the importance of continuing direct negotiations to achieve our goals. The Secretary reiterated that “the United States believes that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state, based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”

    What a bald-faced liar Bibi is; and how pathetic that so many fell for his hissy fit yet again.

  16. NAI-

    It is widely accepted in Israel that Netanyahoo is an inveterate liar.

    It was quite embarrassing to behold our Congressmen / women, and Senators, defying their rheumatism, jumping up and down their seats, clapping hands enthusiastically while knowing exactly who Netanyahoo is.

    But hey, after our Imperial President went to Canosa /AIPAC, hoping to fill up his coffers, those 550 infirms to fill up their coffers too, by faking enthusiasm in front of the cameras.

    Dis I mention that “the Medium is the message?”

  17. What Benny and the Jets refuse to acknowledge is that they are a minority in their own country and, as the expand their country against the will and in the destruction of the majority, they are becoming an even smaller minority. This can not end well. It may have started with a Palestinian refusal to accept Israel but it is the wingnut faction of Isreal’s refusal to accept the reality that the end result will either be an country dominated by Muslims or an apartheid plagued world outcast that even the US can stand by that will be the death of the country.

  18. Mr. Netanyahu’s comments are designed to satisfy the right wing of his party and to remind that upstart Pres. Obama that Israel can do what it wishes because it controls political debate in the United States on all matters relating to Israeli interests. Unfortunately, his take is largely correct. Several days ago I posted a comment on Huffington Post criticizing Israeli settlement policies as a form of imperialist expansionism. After it received a number of favorable responses, my comment disappeared, erased by an anonymous (of course) “moderator” as violative of HuffPost’s rules. I have had no response (of course) to my request for an explanation.

    It is time to remind Israel that friendship does not entail the toleration of intolerable policies. But it is virtually impossible to convey that message when policy determinations are controlled by a coalition of AIPAC and the Christian right. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

  19. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/05/24/israel/index.html “Great American Patriots”

    For his part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ran to AIPAC to undercut (and rebuke) his own President and the leader of his own party on Israel, something that — as Andrew Sullivan correctly observed — would be inconceivable on any foreign policy issue other than Israel.

    In sum, the same faction that spent the last decade demanding fealty to the Commander-in-Chief in a Time of War upon pain of being accused of a lack of patriotism (or worse) now openly sides with a foreign leader over their own President. The U.S. Congress humiliates itself by expressing greater admiration for and loyalty to this foreign leader than their own country’s. And because this is all about Israel, few will find this spectacle strange, or at least will be willing to say so.

    (end excerpt)

    And there’s an update, for those who may have read this yesterday.

Comments are closed.