Ron Radosh

Some Must Read Articles on the Impasse Between the U.S. and Israel

I’m on my way for a few days to New York City, but before leaving, I wanted to call your attention to a few important articles on the real issues on the discord now in place between Israel and the United States.

First, Steven Rosen, Director of the Washington Project at Dan Pipes’ Middle East Forum, has written a comprehensive article about the history of Israeli building in the East of Jerusalem and its relationship to any peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Rosen shows definitively that when Barack Obama made its cessation an ultimatum to Israel, it was his action that in fact made any forward movement impossible.

Had Bill Clinton followed what Obama now has done, he points out,  and “taken Obama’s position and issued an ultimatum demanding that all construction in Jerusalem stop, and had Arafat made that American demand a precondition to begin negotiations, the Camp David Summit of 2000 and the Taba talks in January 2001 would not have occurred.” He says near his conclusion: “The record is clear and consistent: The United States has never liked Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, and frequently stated that it complicated the peace process. But until Obama, no U.S. president had made its cancelation a precondition for negotiations, and until Obama, Palestinian leaders including Abbas did not make it a precondition either.” The result is that we have no peace negotiations, and Obama has given the Palestinians a perfect excuse to do nothing at all to make meaningful ones take place.

Second, and equally important, is the article by Alan Dershowitz, who at the Hudson Institute New York website, writes that “No one in their right mind believes that Israel has any obligation to give up the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in the world, despite the fact that it was recaptured during the 1967 war.” Palestinians know this, he emphasizes, and never protested about it before. But, he notes, The bellicose response came from the American leadership, which refused to let the issue go. Once this piling on occurred, the Palestinian leadership had no choice but to join the chorus of condemnation, lest they be perceived as being less Palestinian than the Obama Administration.”

Dershowitz is correctly angry about what he calls “the phony arguments” attributed to General David Patraeus and Vice-President Joe Biden that Israel is a danger to American troops, that have “now taken on a life of their own,” despite the denial by those cited that they ever made any statements of that nature. He cites the usual suspects, people for whom facts never get in the way of an anti-Israeli argument. The list includes Joe Klein, Roger Cohen, Pat Buchanan and others. About this false argument, he writes: “ By seeking to scapegoat Israel for the death of American troops at the hands of Islamic terrorists, this argument blames those who love America for deaths caused by those who hate America.”

His final conclusion is the basic one, and Dershowitz states it well: “ when the Palestinian leadership and population want their own state more than they want there not to be a Jewish state, there will be a two-state solution.”

And finally, from Israel, an important editorial appears in The Jerusalem Post. Its editors take up the issue of the importance of ending the dispute with the United States, whose support and alliance is necessary to keep intact.  The editors of this supposedly hard-line paper note they fully understand that Israel has to make compromises. All of Israel agrees, they argue, that there has to be a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that accepts Israel as a Jewish State, and that is willing to live alongside it in peace. And they note that what they call “illegal outposts” by some settlers have to be taken down.

But, they write in their major point, “it seems obvious from here that US pressure on Israel is distancing the Palestinians from substantive compromise, since they see no need to give ground when Washington is doing their bargaining for them. But the Obama administration thinks differently, and that requires a pragmatic Israeli approach.” Therefore  “it is vital that Israel not allow itself to be misrepresented as an obstacle to peace, and that it enable the present US administration to discover on its own the nature of Palestinian rejectionism, as a first step toward reversing it.”

The problem they do not address is rather obvious: What will it take for the Obama administration to realize what we all know. The editors do not address what people like Ed Koch have said- as he did yesterday on Neil Cavuto’s program on Fox News, that President Obama obviously accepts the Palestinian narrative, and is not about to pressure the Fatah leadership, leaving his attempt to put pressure on Israel alone. That is why what the Post editors want, a “profound Palestinian shift – toward true recognition of the Jewish state,” is not likely to take place any time soon.