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Behind the duelling speeches of Obama and Netanyahu

Reader comment on item: Assessing Binyamin Netanyahu's Speech at Bar-Ilan University

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Jun 15, 2009 at 19:36

I think Prime Minister Netanyahu rose magnificently to the challenge posed by President Obama with his demand that settlements be frozen and that Netanyahu recognize the concept of a two-state solution. As much as I have seen of it, his speech was a superb answer, especially with the first point listed by Daniel Pipes, on the biggest threat facing not only Israel but the World..

As far as I can tell he simply ignored the first demand while nominally accepting the more prominent and symbolic second demand. At the same time, he set the bar so high (entirely reasonably) for a limited and permanently curtailed Palestinian 'State' that there is almost no likelihood they will accept it. Nor, given the specifics of his conditions, is there much chance the Palestinian leadership (whoever it is) could give a fake acceptance of peace, as Arafat got away with doing for over 10 years.

But there's one element missing in order to explain the fact that this challenge arose in the first place. In the Washington Post on Saturday (13th), there's a lengthy piece, Obama's Long-Held Views Shape Stance on Settlements, by Glenn Kessler and Michael D. Shear, which clearly explains something that had mystified me, and is missing from Pipes' discussions about Obama's views on Isreal..

For I could not understand how Obama would be making the mistake so many other American leaders have in buying into the 'moral equivalence' view of whose at fault for the 60 or 70 or 100 year dispute between the Israelis and the Arabs. I expected him to be brighter than that.

But it turns out that for two decades or more he has been advised by Chicago Jews, including famous judge Abner Mikva, Rahm Emanuel, and others, who share the view that the US has to be "tough" on Israel rather than on the Palestinians and Arabs, to produce peace.

In other words, it's hard to overblame him if there are large numbers of American Jews who have made themselves part of the existential threat to Israel by a kind of moral neutrality between the two sides, or by failing to realize that the plight of the Palestinians, "deplorable" as it is according to Obama, is 95% due, not to Israel, but to the intolerance and hatred toward the very existence of Israel shown by their own leaders and the majority of other Arab leaders.

Still, given the subversive effect of these Amercian Jews who are irresponsibly oversoliticous of the plight of the Palestinians, and naive with regard to the depth of Arab intransigence, I think both Obama and Netanyahu came off well in the dueling speeches between them. Ron Thompson

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