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Obama Administration Confrontation with Israel Over Jerusalem

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Submitted by Herbert Roth (United States), Mar 17, 2010 at 12:03

I don't mean to criticize but I was surprised by the mildness of your initial blog in the National Review Online (3/10/2010) about the peremptory demand by the Obama administration for a halt in all preparations for Jewish housing in all parts of Jerusalem under Arab rule from 1948 to 1967.

I was surprised because my own reaction is substantially based, but only in part, on an essay you wrote a number of years ago about the Arab connection to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is vital to the Arabs because it is vital to the Jews. Recognizing the Jewish claim to ancient Jerusalem would be construed among the Arabs, rightly so, as an implicit recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and a step toward explicit recognition. But there is another slippery slope, far steeper and far more slippery in in the test of wills between the Obama administration and Israel. It is about forcing Israel to take a step toward recognizing its own illegitimacy. The slippery slope is not a worn out cliché. It is reality.

Humiliation of the Jews is crucial to the Arab strategy. While the Obama Administration does not want to be perceived as humiliating the Jews, it did adopt, then reject and has now again embraced humiliation of Israel as part of its strategy. If pressed the Obama Administration would probably argue that a halt to processing 1,600 apartment units in Jerusalem is trivial. Important Israelis like Tzipi Livni may second this belief. In practical, on the ground physical terms, the humiliation is small. In terms of the struggle for a Jewish homeland and a Jewish state the humiliation is enormous. To say the right of Jews to live in any part of Jerusalem is subject to Arab consent is an insult and not a small one. It will be the first of additionally graver humiliations, leading to the ultimate humiliation, the virtually complete reversal of the Six Day War and restoration of the status quo ante.

The notion that the humiliations once started can be arrested at any time is wrong. Once Israel steps on the slope of recognizing in any degree its own illegitimacy it will be pushed further and further down the slope. I believe both supporters Israel, including those who gave their enthusiastic support to Barrack Obama in the election of 2008, and opponents Jewish claims in Palestine, have thought that at some point there would be a head to head between the Obama administration and Israel. Postponing that clash is Israeli policy. Some, perhaps Tzipi Livni, would give in on this supposedly trivial point of the preliminary approval of 1,600 apartment units in order to postpone the clash a little longer. The Netanyahu government might also be tempted to give in on at this point. I think this is wrong. The latest reports indicate that the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government are looking for a face saving way to back off from the brink of this confrontation. I wonder if this is in Israel's interest.

Israel's position in American currently is strong. But it is not getting stronger and trends may be in the opposite direction. Israel's opponents are smarter than ever. They have a significant and, I'm afraid, growing cadre of Jewish supporters. I'm not talking about crack-pots like Norman Finkelstein. One prominent Jewish politician, Senator Feinstein, whose support of Israel is at best lukewarm, has already jumped on the Administration's bandwagon and there may be others. I doubt that President Obama has any aspiration at this point to become an American Charles de Gaulle and switch sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict. That's not politically feasible at this time. There may come a time when it is politically feasible.

I believe that now may be better than any conceivable later time for the confrontation with the Obama administration. It would be foolish and stupid for the confrontation to be about any temporary suspension in the processing of new Jewish homes in Jerusalem. It must be about the right of the Jewish state to exist and the inseparability of Jerusalem, in particular the holiest part of Jerusalem, from the Jewish state.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

The mildness of my initial reply is due to the fact that I wrote it before the over-wrought Obama administration response a couple of days later. I subsequently addressed that in a more hard-hitting analysis a week later at "The Worst Crisis in 35 Years?" http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2010/03/the-worst-crisis-in-35-years

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Reader comments (57) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Muslim Jerusalem ? [196 words]BamagujeMar 30, 2010 18:06170787
Thumb in the eye [188 words]Jay1Mar 19, 2010 22:51170427
No such thing! [527 words]Irredentist PalestiniansMar 17, 2010 20:44170326
Obama Administration Confrontation with Israel Over Jerusalem [693 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Herbert RothMar 17, 2010 12:03170288
Has Sec. Clinton lot her mind ?!?!?!?! [43 words]jerraissyMar 17, 2010 05:42170276
Yes Hillary has lost it - But she is still the darling of the American Jewish Community [193 words]Abba McDonaldMar 18, 2010 12:37170276
Self-Defeating [107 words]Edward HalperMar 15, 2010 21:53170190
Israel [11 words]Jon PurizhanskyMar 15, 2010 20:42170187
The Visitor [225 words]Arlinda DeAngelisMar 14, 2010 17:28170140
The Visitor Biden [184 words]Kiel HesselmannMar 15, 2010 18:24170140
collective suicide [68 words]Bill NarveyMar 14, 2010 16:41170138
On "Collective Sucide" [118 words]Warren BrunchMar 15, 2010 07:42170138
Typical Canadian Israel hater - living on stolen Indian land that was colonized by Europeans [186 words]Abba McDonaldMar 15, 2010 08:46170138
Kudos for Another Islamofascist [240 words]Arlinda DeAngelisMar 15, 2010 16:47170138
Collective Suicide [88 words]Bill NarveyMar 19, 2010 06:15170138
Hundreds Of Christians Killed In Nigeria While Biden Was In Jerusalem-Yet Media & Obama Spoke Only Of Jerusalem [48 words]SimchaMar 14, 2010 12:07170130
What Israelis think [98 words]Edward L.Mar 13, 2010 14:45170063
Demoncrats stink now but in November they will reek [394 words]Abba McDonaldMar 14, 2010 09:20170063
"despised by the Clintons..." [24 words]Andrew SwatMar 15, 2010 07:27170063
Settlements [34 words]Carolyn K. DinofskyMar 12, 2010 17:19170032
Keeping Friends Close, Enemies Closer [315 words]M. ToveyMar 12, 2010 15:17170021
Democrats are Anti Semites with a smile [398 words]Abba McDonaldMar 12, 2010 14:39170019
A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing [299 words]Jerrold L. SobelMar 12, 2010 11:26170015
????? [22 words]cwwMar 13, 2010 19:09170015
Make them understand [70 words]Doug CorriganMar 12, 2010 11:11170014
"Israel needs ... to win its war against the irredentist Palestinians of both Fatah and Hamas." [89 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Pål-André HaugenMar 12, 2010 05:29170008
biden's visit [97 words]AndriaMar 11, 2010 22:45170000
No big deal if US asks Israel to stop [70 words]Maham KhanMar 11, 2010 21:20169998
Israel & the Cry For a Two-State Solution to be Accomplished by the Obama Administration [106 words]Renee BouvierMar 11, 2010 21:00169997
Huhh!! [77 words]James DMar 16, 2010 03:09169997
James D Wants Proof; James D Does Not Want Criticism of One's Country or People [1361 words]Renee BouvierMar 16, 2010 19:03169997
no more of this . . . please!!! [150 words]James DMar 18, 2010 02:39169997
More BS [391 words]James DMar 18, 2010 04:58169997
Biden-------Stay out of Israel's business! [20 words]Jean OvertonMar 11, 2010 18:29169992
Let's call it a red herring [87 words]Richard FeinbloomMar 11, 2010 17:18169990
Why should Israelis trust Biden at all? [49 words]MDMar 11, 2010 16:18169986
" Trust " Israel has earn trust many times over, Israel has kept every peace agreement .. 2010 Mar [171 words]Phil GreendMar 11, 2010 15:51169985
JOE BIDEN [58 words]MannyMar 11, 2010 15:44169984
On Biden in Israel. Obama administration says one thing does another. [387 words]Anne- USAMar 11, 2010 15:15169982
Comment [84 words]Dannel R. BallesterosMar 11, 2010 14:58169981
Biden on Israel [89 words]AyashaMar 11, 2010 14:13169975
Israel should stop trying to please the Arabs [34 words]Allan UngerMar 11, 2010 12:49169972
1Obama is pro-Arab, and therefore is anti Israel [289 words]Carmen Waggoner, Ph.D.Mar 11, 2010 10:49169970
MidEast Reality [443 words]Arye ShamirMar 11, 2010 10:11169969
Biden and settlements [481 words]Harry LiebermanMar 11, 2010 09:25169967
What's Goin' On? [142 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
John W. McGinleyMar 11, 2010 08:19169966
Surreal [219 words]Mladen AndrijasevicMar 11, 2010 07:19169964
Biden on settlements? [95 words]Laura KernMar 11, 2010 07:16169963
Israel [59 words]2outspokenMar 11, 2010 05:58169962
Commitment to Israel may be a ruse [72 words]Gamaliel IsaacMar 11, 2010 05:57169961
Correction [12 words]Gamaliel IsaacMar 12, 2010 14:23169961
Obama Lied to AIPAC [205 words]anthonyMar 16, 2010 21:36169961
Sometimes a true friend needs to apply tough love [160 words]Ben ClarkeMar 11, 2010 05:00169960
UN Era is a joke [215 words]Peter HerzMar 12, 2010 21:53169960
Tough Love? Surley You Joke! [203 words]Ben WankerlinMar 16, 2010 20:26169960
Ben lets support Muslims who oppose extremism not lump them together with the radicals [217 words]Ben ClarkeMar 17, 2010 22:05169960
Losing a winning war [202 words]kamekishMar 11, 2010 04:55169959

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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