CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Turning On Israel

May 24, 2011

US President Obama is clearly no friend of Israel. He can rightly say America is, but he is not. His major speech on the Middle East delivered on May 19 shows that Obama has no regard for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. Indeed, his speech, although said to be in the tradition of US foreign policy, broke all sorts of new – and dangerous – ground.

Obama became the first American president ever to tell Israel to revert back to 1967 territorial lines. And Obama became the first US president ever to tell Israel to halt all settlements, even in Jerusalem. He rightly received a strong lecture from Prime Minister Netanyahu as a result.

As he correctly stated during a press conference, “The only peace that will endure is one based on reality, on unshakeable facts.” He also said, “While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines. These lines are indefensible, because they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes.”

Quite right. As Cal Thomas explains, “In his bold rebuke of President Obama in the Oval Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a history lesson. Ignorance of history threatens not only Israel, but also American interests and ultimately America itself. That’s because Arab intentions to dominate do not end in the Middle East.”

He continues, “It is difficult to say if the president is self-deluded, if he drinks State Department Arabist Kool-Aid or if he’s just a fool. It doesn’t matter. The results are the same. Why does anyone continue to believe that the unsuccessful ‘Land for Peace’ formula can magically persuade Arab states and terrorist groups to lay down their arms and change their minds about a goal they have taught in their schools, preached in their mosques and reinforced in their media since 1948? The president’s peace formulation is as likely to succeed as Harold Camping’s doomsday prophecy.”

Kenneth Levin was not amiss to call Obama’s speech his “Neville Chamberlain Speech”. Appeasement was the order of the day back then, and that is what we are getting now as well from Obama. Says Levin: “The cumulative impact of Obama’s declarations is to chart a course for Israel comparable to that charted for Czechoslovakia in 1938 when Neville Chamberlain endorsed Hitler’s demands of that country.”

“In his May 19 speech on the Middle East, President Obama, in a matter of minutes, abandoned Security Council Resolution 242, which for more than four decades had been the cornerstone of diplomacy in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace; likewise abandoned the Roadmap, adopted in 2003 by the so-called Quartet (the U.S., UN, EU and Russia) as a blueprint for resolving, more specifically, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; committed his Administration to pushing Israel back to indefensible borders; and essentially adopted as Administration policy Mahmoud Abbas’s variation on Arafat’s ‘Plan of Phases’ for Israel’s destruction.”

Mona Charen notes how Obama has long been acting in a less than friendly manner toward Israel: “Since taking office, the president’s actions have been anything but friendly. By publicly demanding in 2009 that Israel halt all settlement activity, he stepped into the role of negotiator for Mahmoud Abbas, who had not, before then, made participating in talks contingent on such a moratorium. (Afterwards, he could do nothing else.) By announcing American demands on Israel at the United Nations – a seat for virulent, Israel-despising despots – the president betrayed his promise to stand by the lonely democracy in the Middle East, and, in fact, contributed to the atmosphere of menace toward Israel.

“The president’s concept of friendship toward Israel was capacious enough to permit him to insult the nation’s prime minister during a Washington visit because Netanyahu had not agreed to stop building apartments for Jews in Jerusalem, and to instruct his secretary of state to engage in a 40-minute dressing-down of the PM for the same offense.

“Now Obama claims to have found a new expression of friendship — the demand that negotiations over a future Palestinian state begin with the assumption that Israel will relinquish all of the disputed territories acquired in a defensive war 44 years ago. Is the president again serving as chief negotiator for the Palestinians?”

Or as Kevin McCullough writes, “Sadly the President seems unable to distinguish for himself any difference between his job as President and his personal political opinion of what he thinks of Israel, her people, and their government. What he needs to understand, and understand clearly, is that we depend upon Israel’s nuclear, military, and economic vibrancy in the region to prevent the entire middle eastern region from turning into one big radical Islamic ghetto. For if Israel was not there, that is exactly what the rest of the world would be facing. But let’s move beyond the geo-political, radical worldview, pro-Palestinian/Islamic activist positions held by President Obama – what about some just plain old common sense?

“If you have a meeting scheduled for the following day with a nation that you may have some differences with, isn’t it far better to address them in private? The result of Thursday’s speech is that the United States and Israel are perceived to be at odds with each other. And while the leaders of those nation’s may be, the people of the United States overwhelmingly love the nation of Israel and wish her success with her own defense, economic vitality, and self determination.”

Tragically the Left has always tended to see Israel as the enemy, not the solution, to the mess that is the Middle East. Israel is by no means perfect, but given that it is the only free and democratic nation in the area, it deserves far more support from Obama than he has been giving her thus far. But we won’t expect to see a change of heart on his part anytime soon.

townhall.com/columnists/calthomas/2011/05/24/betraying_israel
frontpagemag.com/2011/05/23/obama%E2%80%99s-neville-chamberlain-speech/
www.nationalreview.com/articles/267899/some-friend-israel-mona-charen
townhall.com/columnists/kevinmccullough/2011/05/20/why_israel_neutralizes_usama_for_obama

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22 Responses to Turning On Israel

  • A quite helpful – and brief – video to watch on this can be found here:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Yes, it’s once again this concept of “peace” that is so often slung around by so many Western “liberals”! Their concept of peace comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition that produced Western Democracy. Do they not realise how completely foreign and meaningless such a concept – mere words – is to the Arab/Islamic mind? The only thing that could be achieved that would come anything near to what we mean by “peace”, for them, would be the complete and permanent destruction of Israel and all Jews. Do not Western “liberals” even begin to understand this? Or do they understand, and know the truth, reality, only too well, but prefer to hide it, cynically, under this “peace” talk.
    John Thomas, UK

  • See also ‘Three Cheers for Terroristine’ by Daniel Greenfield

    Why do we need Terroristine? Peace. There can be no peace without a terrorist state. Not a chance of it. The only way we’ll ever have peace is to give the terrorists a country of their own. A country dedicated to terrorism. Only then will the Terroristinians finally give up on all the killing, and dedicate themselves to medical research, quantum physics and the arts. It hasn’t happened yet to. But it’s bound to.

    … We know the Terroristinians want their own state. Every time they walk out of negotiations or end them with a round of terrorist attacks, it shows their deep and abiding passion for a state. They want it so badly they aren’t willing to make a single concession for it. So committed are they to Terroristine. And who can blame them?

    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2011/05/three-cheers-for-terroristine.html

    Damien Spillane

  • Hello Bill

    A knowledge of history is essential if one is to begin to understand the ongoing problem in the Middle East. No doubt Jews have a claim on the land of Israel owing to their long and continuous presence there – just as Australian Aborigines have a claim to land rights because of the same reasons. Most Australians have no idea of the history of this area and indeed no idea that the area (Israel) that we are talking about is very small. One can fit three Israels into Tasmania. Also it is true that Israel does not have clearly defined international borders as these have changed during the four major Arab attacks it has suffered in the first 25 years of its existence. I am certain that if more Australians knew a few basic historical and demographic facts of present day Israel and the Arab attitude toward it they would not hold the views they do. Of course it is no use looking in the mainstream media for such information.

    Bill Spence

  • Why should Israel go back to old boundaries and trust its adversaries to behave themselves thereafter? They are totalitarian States subscribing to an Islamic doctrine that approves of lying to non-Moslems for the purposes of furthering Moslem interests. Has there ever been a totalitarian regime that has been honourable? As for Obama, since he is keen on giving up territory, let him return some of his to Mexico. And wasn’t Puerto Rico seized from Spain not that long ago?
    John Snowden

  • Return to 1967 borders? Why isn’t the president consistent and demand that Europe return to 1944 borders? I think Germany owned most of western Europe at that time, and a good bit of eastern Europe as well. Nasty evil England, France and Russia for taking all that land away from Germany! They should redraw those borders!
    John Symons

  • Bill,
    Bob Dylan tells it best about the lonely abandoned ‘bully’

    Neighborhood Bully
    by Bob Dylan
    From the album Infidels

    Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
    His enemies say he’s on their land
    They got him outnumbered about a million to one
    He got no place to escape to, no place to run
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
    He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
    He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
    He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
    He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
    Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
    He’s always on trial for just being born
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
    Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
    Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
    The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
    That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
    ’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
    And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    He got no allies to really speak of
    What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
    He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
    But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
    They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
    Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
    They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
    Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
    He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
    In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
    No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
    He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
    Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    What’s anybody indebted to him for?
    Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
    Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
    They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
    He’s the neighborhood bully

    What has he done to wear so many scars?
    Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
    Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
    Running out the clock, time standing still
    Neighborhood bully

    Barry Koh

  • Indeed, Obama has made his stance perfectly clear that he is anti-Israel. He has proven to be a prudent liar who speaks one thing in regards to Israel and his actions prove otherwise. It is no brainer that the 1967 borders that Obama speaks of makes Israel completely indefensible.

    President Obama’s decision to support the enemy’s political and economic crisis in the Middle East and North Africa has certainly marked the beginning of an anti US-Israeli relation. What the Western world needs to grasp is the evil tactics of these so-called “Palestinians”. They have become masters at manipulating the media with false peace offerings. Their war is not only on the battlefield, but also with world opinion. Unfortunately, western society is credulously being led down a road of evil and destruction by the cleverest deceiver ever to sit in the White House. In the meantime Israel desperately needs our prayers and our blessings. Shalom!

    Panage Kontos

  • Some folks need to learn their history

    http://www.carolineglick.com/e/2011/05/the-legal-borders-of-israel-un.php

    David Skinner, UK

  • Thanks guys

    Here is the full text of Netanyahu’s speech delivered just recently in Washingon:

    http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=52541

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, normally I am in full agreement with your comments, but not this team. I agree with you that Israel has every right to exist. I also agree that Israel needs protection from the hostile forces that surround her. However, the Palestinian people also need to be treated with justice. The illegal settlement by Israel of large parts of the West Bank has destroyed Palestinian lives and unless reversed make a viable Palestinian state impossible. Compromise is needed on both sides and the 1967 borders provide a good starting point for negotiations.
    Peter Scott

  • Thanks Peter

    But as I already mentioned in the article (and as is graphically illustrated in the video link I mention in a comment above), for Israel to go back to 1967 lines would be complete national suicide. Thus if you believe that this is the way to go, then you clearly do not believe that “Israel has every right to exist” or that “Israel needs protection from the hostile forces that surround her.”

    And Israel is constantly offering compromise here, only to be rejected by her enemies. Indeed, your comment is therefore not only incorrect, but it is already out of date. Just yesterday (our time) Netanyahu did in fact say in his Washington speech that he was willing to dismantle some of the settlements in the West Bank. That sure sounds like compromise to me. You evidently have not listened to his speech, which I have linked to in the above comment.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Peter, you seem to have lost sight of an important point – there is no national or ethnic group known as Palestinians.

    Following the various conflicts, there were many Palestinian Arabs (a descriptive term for arabic people in the Palestinian territories) who were ‘stuck in the middle’ in captured territory, but only because when they tried to move to (trans-)Jordan, they were refused entry (see stuff on UN Resolution 194 – parts never implemented).

    Thus they became refugees – political pawns in the West Bank and Gaza territories – and now they have been escalated in status to a “nation deserving territory”.

    John Angelico

  • Peter Scott, you seem to be assuming that Israel’s adversaries are rational and stable. They are not. Look at Lebanon. Its wobbly government does not even control its own territory. It is unwilling host to a foreign-controlled terrorist army that it cannot get rid of. Likewise the authorities in Gaza cannot effectively manage their area. And look at Egypt and Syria, in the throes of revolution. They may well be taken over by extremists of unknown reliability when it comes to honouring agreements.
    John Snowden

  • Though I am great supporter of Israel and am compelled to love what God has chosen, we must look at the greater picture and Gods plan for His chosen.
    Part of that plan is a final chastisement exceeding all previous chastisements in order to bring his chosen people to the point of repentance, not only for their rejection of their Messiah but for the thousands of years of their violation of the covenant.
    There will and can never be peace for them until this issue is resolved and of course the instruments used of God for this chastisement are the nations that surround them.
    So on the one hand there is a divine right to the land but on the other it is not unconditional.
    I am fully confident that our God knows exactly what He is doing, though his ways may not meet our own expectations and in fact may offend us way beyond measure because we don’t know Him as we ought.
    As one divine comments if we don’t know Him in His judgements and severity we don’t know Him.
    Rob Withall

  • G’day again Bill,
    I’ve just spent another three weeks in Israel, and have seen the situation first hand, deliberately staying in and visiting both Palestinian and Jewish areas. I’ve talked to Muslims and Jews; and experienced both points of view, seeing the fear in young Israeli soldiers, and the irritation of Palestinians during a three hour wait at a west Bank to Israel crossing. My considered position is that whatever we might think is the best way to peace, it’s a political nightmare of gigantic proportions on which opinions may legitimately differ. However, Christians, and Australian Christians should have a partiular concern for any Christians in the land. We should support evangelistic and charitable work going on, by local churches and Christians. And there are Christians there, working under great difficulty. It’s a tough call, trying to reach Jews, both secular and observant, and it’s tough trying to reach Muslims. And there are local Christians and churches in both areas that need our support. The solution for Christians is not taking sides in this tragic conflict, but supporting gospel work. That’s the only way real peace will come. Jesus and Paul showed little interest in taking up the issue of slavery. They undermined it (and ultimately destroyed it) by inviting people to accept the truth of the gospel. This time, in our visit, we didn’t meet some Christians trying to evangelise Jews, but there certainly are some. But we did meet Arabic speaking Christians from Ramallah who are on the ground trying to share the gospel. We intend to support them, not because of their ethnicity, but because they’re in there, trying to point people to Jesus, the only hope for the Middle East, and Australia.
    Andrew Campbell

  • I agree to the essay written here however being a Lebanese Christian and currently in Lebanon the biggest issue at hand in the Middle East which does not take much of a mention is the survival of Christianity in this region. We are caught in a time in our history where the Islamic time bomb is going to overwhelm us. Christain Iraq is gone and we and the Copts and the Syrian Christians are left. If the Assad family go then the Sunni Muslims will destroy us. This is an SOS for the Christain Middle East which has been here since the time of Christ. Long live the People of God.
    Tony Khawaja

  • Thanks Andrew

    Yes and no is how I would reply to your comment. Yes Jesus is the only ultimate answer to not only this but to anything and everything. And yes the Middle East problem is huge and complicated. And yes preaching the gospel is always crucial. But to stop there as you seem to suggest does not seem all that helpful.

    One could say all that you said about the world just prior to and during the Second World War: Jesus is the only answer, things are really complex, preaching the gospel is the key, etc. But to stop there would have been quite irresponsible, and even unchristian. Taking sides in other words was also crucial, and defeating an aggressor who sought to destroy the free world was a noble and just cause – even a Christian cause.

    In the same way here it is rather unhelpful to say we should not take sides. We have a number of nations who have vowed to drive Israel into the ocean, and a tiny nation seeking to defend itself against such aggression. I reject the notion of moral equivalence here, and the idea that we should do nothing to protect Israel.

    The same with your remarks about slavery. Yes preaching the gospel and so on is part of the answer. But also part of the answer was for dedicated Christians like Wilberforce to fight this with all their might in Parliament for half a century. They rightly knew that simply preaching the gospel or just praying was not going to liberate the slaves. In the same way merely preaching the gospel would not have liberated the prisoners at Auschwitz, and just preaching the gospel will not spare Israel from total annihilation.

    Yes there are deep and complex problems in the Middle East, and part of your proposals are part of the solution. But if we took only your advice, I think matters would be far worse to be honest.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Israel has got God’s divine authority to exist!!!
    Islam is an ideology built on lies and propaganda, and encourages it’s adherents to do so!!!
    Barb Hoc

  • It is really appalling that post-LBJ Democrats actually invite God’s wrath (as specified in Gen 12:3 against those who curse Israel–note that not even descendants of Abraham who cursed Israel were spared, as we read of the Midianites in Judges but never afterwards) especially when they have as model a nation which for 45 years refused to acknowledge Israel with diplomatic relations (in a fallacious idea of pleasing its rather large–over 200 million now–Muslim minority), specifically India.

    From Partition until 1991/1992, India’s economy largely stagnated–but after Prime Mininster Narasimha Rao unintentionally (he was an idolater, quite corrupt and adulterous to boot) activated the “blessing” spoken of in that verse by extending recognition to Israel (and this was done in order to “pip at post” the Opposition BJP, who had made this a strident promise), India advanced economically to where it is a much-sought-after trade-partner.

    To favour “Palestinians” as Carter (especially post-2002, with his book of pure anti-Israel twaddle) and Clinton did, and 0bama is doing even more so (the definition was invented in 1929 by Haj-amin Husseini when he found out he could not merge the Balfour mandate to his ancestral Syria–to codify his own vitriolic hatred of Jews) is inviting on this nation God’s curses!

    Srinivasan Varadarajan

  • Thanks guys

    A very good article on all this can be found here:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2011/05/28/five_simple_truths_about_the_mideast_conflict

    Says Michael Brwon, “at no time before 1967 did these Arabs identify themselves as ‘Palestinians,’ nor did they seek to achieve any kind of statehood there. As expressed by former terrorist Walid Shoebat, ‘Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?’”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I cannot see how President’s Obama’s speech cannot be anything but giving aid and comfort to our enemies. Benjamin Netanyahu’s response and demeanor reflected a deep-down dignity and respect for the truth that Obama can only dream of, even as he mimics and mocks it. I am more worried about the security of a United States who would re-elect such a leader than I do of the nation Israel.
    Steve Swartz

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