The Israelis had been invaded in three major wars and in countless border skirmishes because those pre-1967 borders were indefensible. They cannot go back to what is really the Armistice Line of 1949.
Stung by criticisms from some of his most loyal backers in the American Jewish community, President Obama quickly backtracked. He began to emphasize the 1967 borders “with appropriate swaps.” For him, Mideast politics may be a swap meet, but for Israel, it’s survival.
What if Benjamin Netanyahu had countered in their famous May 20th White House face-off: “Okay, Mr. President, Israel will return to the 1967 borders when the U.S. returns to its 1898 borders.”
“After all,” the Prime Minister might have argued, “the United States was a continental power in 1898. Your territory stretched from sea to shining sea then and was wholly defensible. Of course, the 1898 U.S. borders would have excluded Hawaii, and made your long-form birth certificate invalid, Mr. President, but America’s borders in 1898 made a lot more sense than Israel’s borders in 1967.”
That would have been an encounter even more entertaining than the Ultimate Fight Club match the president actually had with the Israeli leader.
It’s only partly a joke. What right did President Obama have to dictate to the Israelis what their negotiating posture must be? He reportedly reacted angrily to Netanyahu’s on-camera geography lesson.
Some questions arise: Why should any of the Mideast’s tribes with flags choose democracy? How has the Obama administration treated the one unquestioned democracy the region has produced? When this administration ceases bowing to Arab despots and stops kicking the Mideast’s only democracy around, then their appeals for liberty will have a basis in realism.
Woodrow Wilson, that other Nobel Peace Prize laureate, took America into World War I. He eloquently said, America must shed her blood “to make the world safe for democracy.”
Because of his impracticality and stubbornness, he failed even to make democracies like France and England safe. Will Barack Obama follow the same dangerous path?