I'm still reeling at the chutzpah of President Obama to make a major statement about Israel, putting out his own determination of what Israel should do, just hours before the Prime Minister of that land was due for an official visit. Apparently Hilary Clinton let Benjamin Netanyau know about Obama's verbal bombshells shortly before they were dropped, and the prime minister's efforts to soften and modify Obama's declarations were ignored.
Seems like major disrespect to me. And yet, when he got to the White House, Netanyahu behaved graciously, with measured and logical response. No, Israel can't scale its borders back to the "the 1967 lines" to give away whole cities--400,000 residents' homes--to a new Palestinian state. What was Obama thinking?
Why would Obama usurp the content and purpose of Netanyahu's planned state visit by creating something so controversial and unexpected that it had to be mopped up? It's certainly audacious to just propose on TV "that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."
Chutzpah to impose his own "should." In his speech, Obama said he understood the difficulty in resolving what has been a stalemate for decades. Then why start negotiating on TV?
Remember in 2005 when Israel turned over Gaza to the Palestinians? What did they get for that? Daily rockets showered upon nearby towns. What Israel got was the destruction of Gush Katif, a successful hydroponic vegetable growing center from which Israel had received perhaps the majority of its fruits and vegetables. The greenhouses were immediately destroyed by their new caretakers, replaced by rubble and launching pads--that were now closer than they'd ever been. Nice trade.
I fear the "two state solution" would be, for Palestinians, and certainly Hamas (which won't officially come to the negotiating table, but retains its presence) simply Step One in an ongoing press to eliminate Israel. Once again, the launching pads will come closer.
I'll be visiting Israel soon, and I'll find out if my viewpoint from afar is validated by people living there. And I'll be eager to see if our president back-pedals or continues his chutzpah in the face of the international community's reaction.
I was very impressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu's response to his meeting with Pres. Obama, but after reminding him of the 4,000-year history of the Jewish people in Israel, enduring "expulsions and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions," he said he undertook his role in "fashioning a peace" with humility and little "margin for error...because history will not give the Jewish people another chance."
Every time I visit Israel, as I will over the next few days, I have been impressed that history has not measured the Jewish people by "chances." In fact, the survival and thriving of the Jews despite repeated attempts at genocide could not be by chance. Seeing the high-tech cities, innovations in medicine, computer science, communications, and the stylish, cosmopolitan rush of that tiny nation shows the energetic productivity of people whose basis remains their religious heritage--one that values women, and encourages questioning and exploration. Israel's success reminds us that God is an active party in its determination, and that a president's chutzpah won't do much more than provide fodder for a few days' columns and blogs.