Free Markets, Free People

Israel’s bottom line

If President Obama is actually serious about an Israeli/Palestinian accord, he better review the speech Benjamin Netanyahu gave before a joint session of Congress today.

He said that to reach a deal, Palestinians must agree to live with a Jewish state that would include areas in the suburbs of Jerusalem and around Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem, he said, “will never be divided,” and Israel’s army would remain along the Jordan River.

While some land where Israelis have settled would lie outside its final borders, he said, the borders would not be identical to those of 1967 and before, which he once again called indefensible. Palestinian refugees and their descendants, he said, would have to find their homes outside these borders, limiting their right of return to old homelands — long a sticking point.

That’s the Israeli bottom line and it isn’t going to change much even if Netanyahu is no longer the Prime Minister.  This is it – this is what that state, after years of fighting for its life, has determined is the minimum conditions it must insist on for its self-defense.  Essentially, these particular positions aren’t negotiable.

Obama claims his policy and position isn’t new.  Obviously the Israelis disagree.  There, laid out for everyone to see is Israel’s position.  In the meantime, I’d also add, were I Netanyahu, that until Hamas and the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel, that Israel has no interest in any process.  That’s such a basic requirement I’m surprised it has to repeated endlessly.

Netanyahu says he is willing to make painful concessions on behalf of Israel – including some settlements in occupied lands.  But he’s not willing to concede any of the above – and it it time for this administration to get a clue if it is serious about the peace process.  I simply don’t think it is, and the new conditions laid out by Obama are a way of putting the onus and blame on Israel for being “intransigent” in the face of decades of Palestinian intransigence.  This is Obama’s way of saying “not my fault that the peace process I so highly touted fell apart”.


Twitter: @McQandO


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52 Responses to Israel’s bottom line

  • A good week. Netanyahu not only said the right things and said them well, but enough Americans on both sides supported what he said and backed Israel, as opposed to the fork-tongued, snake-oil salesman currently at 1600 Pennsylvania.

    It’d be in questionable taste and might boomerang, but I’d like to see one of those “Downfall” bunker spoofs with Obama chewing out his staff for allowing Netanyahu to checkmate him in the past week’s match.

    • The speech at the State Department with the “67 borders” turns out now to be a colossal mistake.  Obama so misjudged that Bibi had him off balance in their head-to-head meeting, which was topped off by the speech to Congress by Bibi.
      As I watched the Congressional speech, I couldn’t think of anything but that Obama has “screwed the pooch” and then some.  He put Bibi on the offense.  This will go down as a classic textbook example of how not to conduct diplomacy.

  • “When we say never again, we mean never again.”
    I thought that quite clear.
    It was also clear the Palies have NOT the slightest interest in peace.

  • i am not sure i like it, all things considered. how many painful concesssions were already made? look at what is left of israel compared to the arab world. and were did it all start when the international community  first acknowledged  the homeland of the jews….

  • There will be no peace until one side wins the war between Israel and the Palestinians. Personally, the borders that I would start with is the border with Jordan.
    Everything between Jordan and the sea is Israeli.
    Now…let’s negotiate from there.

    • Seems entirely reasonable to me.
      Which people have the most land?  Raise of hands.  OK, you Muslims, talk to your kin, ‘K???

    • Jordan is more rightly a Palestinian state than Gaza and/or the West Bank. This proposition of returning to the 1967 lines is complete idiocy and I was pleased to see Netanyaha fire back with a massive broadside.

  • “Obama claims his policy and position isn’t new.”

    With one huge exception – the requirement for a contiguous Palestinian State.  A simple look at a map will show anyone with any sense that in order to accomplsihe that it would mean Israel would no long be a contiguous state.  To paraphrase an old movie line “I don’t think it means what you think it does!”

    • True of SO many terms and words in the Obamic lexicon…
      PLUS, the meanings shift like the stairways in Harry Potter…!!!

  • I have yet to understand why anybody thinks that there CAN be peace between the psychotic Palestinians and the Israelis.  I am doubly stumped as to why a succession of US presidents think that it’s any of their business.

    Personal opinion, US policy should be:

    1.  Israel is a friend and ally of the United States, and we will treat (and, if necessary, defend) them just like we would Britain, Germany, Australia, Japan, or any of our other allies around the world;

    2.  Israel and the Arabs must work out their problems in their own way.  Our only concern is if one side or the other gets… em… out of hand.

    3.  Efforts in the UN to isolate or otherwise punish Israel will always be met with strenuous opposition from the US unless Israel does something that genuinely puts them outside the pale of civlized countries.  Defending themselves against rocket-firing, suicide-bombing, Hitler-was-a-misunderstood-genius lunatics doesn’t rise to that level.

    • I have yet to understand why anybody thinks that there CAN be peace between the psychotic Palestinians and the Israelis.

      Um…maybe because they,as backers of the Palestinians (Note: Palestine is a REGION; like the US South, southerners are not a race) are a bit psychotic themselves?

  • Can someone explain to me what vital strategic interests the United States has in defending Israel? I am bemused that this country seems so committed to defending the borders of a country thousands of miles away while leaving our southern border so open that tens of millions can and have crossed it with impunity.

    • A complete logical disjunction, there, dude.  Is that on purpose, or do you have trouble with logic?

    • First: I do not have a problem defending Democracy wherever in the world it exists.

      Second: So long as Democrats continue to have anything to say about the this country, there will not be any definitive protections along that southern border.

      Answer to both of your comments?

    • What do we “get” from defending Israel?  What do we “get” from defending anybody?  What did we “get” from stationing thousands of troops in Germany or Japan?

      My view:

      1.  Israel is a democracy, and a democracy in a part of the world where those are in short supply.  Supporting democracy is – and has been – something of the default foreign policy of the United States for decades.  I think it’s a worthwhile policy.  I also entertain the doubtless vain hope that people in other ME countries will look at Israel and Israeli democracy and Israeli prosperity and EVENTUALLY wonder, “How can we get US some of that???  Suicide bombings and burqas don’t seem to work.”

      2.  Israel is populated in large part by the survivors of an effort to wipe them out.  If it was up to various regimes, they’d finish the job.  Stopping that sort of thing seems a worthy pursuit for the United States.

      3.  Israel’s enemies are our enemies.

      4.  As Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, Israel and the United States share many core values regarding human rights and, bluntly, civilization.  I regard the fight between Israel and her enemies as very much one of light vs. dark, of civilization vs. barbarism.  It’s clear to me which side of that fight we should be on.

      5.  It is in the interests of the United States to support the rule of law and the right of countries to exist.  By supporting Israel, we support the right of countries to be free from terrorists shooting rockets at them, or sending children with suicide bombs strapped to them, or of thugs telling a people that they have no right to exist.  I note here that I find Israel’s “restraint” exasperating: if (for example) Mexico was routinely shooting rockets into El Paso or Brownsville, or Canada was routinely shooting rockets into Niagara Falls or Seattle, I’d want to kick some serious ass, not lodge a protest or launch a p*ss-ant “retaliatory strike”.

      As for the disgraceful state of our southern border, we are in accord.  However, the two issues are not related… except by the fact that (as SShiell notes) the same people who want to throw Israel under the bus are much the same people who want to have an open door policy on the Rio Grande.

    • One doesn’t imply the other.
      The second is “because the Democrats need the votes” and “the Republicans need the cheap labor”, though the R’s are realizing that they’ll get corporate “donations” for the cheap labor, but they’ll lose hundreds of thousands of votes.
      On that note, legal Hispanics are losing patience with the illegals. Last I heard, less that 30% of Hispanics favor illegal immigration.

      • Huh?

        My in-laws are legal hispanics, and support the illegals to some extent. Mostly, the support is an emotional reaction to the idea of families being uprooted and sent to Mexico, and to a general feeling that the motiviation to stop illegal immigration is rooted in racism.

  • Define “defend” Pangur.  There are no US troops over there, we have not put boots on the ground there – ever. 

    But maybe the US SHOULD step aside and let the Israel set the border they want.  If I were Israel I would set my boundries out a lot further, drive anyone left on my lands into neighboring countries, and nuke any country who complained too loudly. 

    The bottom line is if the entire world let everyone there duke it out, Israel would be covering a lot more territory, not less than it has today.

  • Whatever-
    I was responding to DocJim’s assertion that “we will treat (and, if necessary, defend) them just like we would Britain, Germany, Australia, Japan, or any of our other allies around the world.” Why should we do this? What vital strategic interest of the United States is served by this proposition? Let me put it another way: what justifies any policy of intervention recommended above? We’re on three interventions right now, and I am hard pressed to call any of them a success.
    Second, not sure exactly what the amount of foreign aid is to Israel right now, but I’m pretty sure it’s substantial. This — like all foreign aid — is a budget line that needs to be zeroed out. Giving a country billions of dollars allows itself to defend itself in a lot more ways than it would be able to without, yes? Weapons systems, sophisticated drone technology, and the like are not cheap. Again, what vital interest justifies this investment, and what return do we get from it? (Please don’t say “spreading democracy” or some other such rot. That neocon stalking horse is dead.)

    • (Please don’t say “spreading democracy” or some other such rot. That neocon stalking horse is dead.)

      >>> Really?  Because even Baracky trotted out that line, so now what you got?

      What do we get from Israel?  Hey, we need at least 1 friend in the region.

      But if you want to zero out Israeli aid, that’s cool – as long as you zero out any aid we give to any arab nation.  After all, money we give them for food is money the regime can spend on guns

    • Why should we do this? What vital strategic interest of the United States is served by this proposition?

      For the same reason we don’t wait until the criminals rob OUR home, so we establish police patrols.

  • Shark,
    “Really?  Because even Baracky trotted out that line, so now what you got?” So now because  we have bipartisan support for a failed policy (Bush and Obama, spreading democracy, if you want to call it that). Unpersuasive. A bad policy endorsed by two mediocrities instead of one is still bad policy.
    Read what I wrote. I’ll quote it for you: “This — [b]like all foreign aid[/b] — is a budget line that needs to be zeroed out.” What’s not to understand?
    You say we need a friend in the region. Why? This gets to the nut of my question: what strategic interest does the US have here? What returns are we getting for our aid to Israel? Are they justified? (I’m waiting, by the way to be called an anti-Semite for even raising the question . . . who’s going to be first?)
    “money we give them for food is money the regime can spend on guns” Hey, your last sentence made sense.

    • The problem I have with your logic is very simple – we are not spreading Democracy here.  We are maintaining it.  And as i said previously, “I do not have a problem defending Democracy wherever in the world it exists.”  So it has nothing to do with a “failed” policy and everything to do with your problem with defending da Joooooooooooos!

    • You say we need a friend in the region. Why? This gets to the nut of my question: what strategic interest does the US have here?

      If you don’t know why the Middle East is strategic, I cannot help you

      • I suspect he doesn’t understand the differences between “strategic” and “tactical”.

  • Why have a friend in the region, and Israel in particuler?

    US strategic interests in the region include Oil reserves and the Suez Canal. 

    Pulling out all US aid to foreign countries would lead to a vacuum that others would gladly fill.
    -Capitalism in the US relies on an international economy, and the larger the better.

    The U.S. government still hopes  that the U.N can be used as a positive infleunce (perhaps incorrectly, but that’s a different argument). In order for that to happen, the most high-profile decision the U.N has ever made must be respected. 

  • Phil,
    How much oil does Israel produce per annum?
    As far as the importance of foreign aid, I’d say our return on investment is very poor on that front. The endless hostility of countries like Turkey and Pakistan — both recipients of US largesse — is a bad outcome. As far as Israel’s foreign aid, well, that hasn’t even stopped them from spying on us, has it? Foreign aid is essentially either a soft imperialism, or Danegeld, take your pick.
    Also, I suspect you overrate the importance of the Suez canal. The US had a strategic interest in the Panama Canal as well . . . despite Carter’s idiocy in giving it away, the world has not come crashing down since that event.
    Not sure I agree with Phil that international capitalism is an unalloyed good. You seem not to be considering the effect of globalism on the American worker’s real wages (stagnant or deflationary for a generation).
    The UN should be bulldozed into the Hudson.

    • You asked why have a friend in the region – Israel is in the region. There is also great strategic value in showing that the U.S. can be counted on as an ally.

      The U.S. has used international capitalism for far more than a generation, and taken action to ensure it – the response to the Barbary pirates or the Great White Fleet are quick examples. Foreign aid has been much smaller in the last generation than it was in the 50’s and 60’s. The returns aren’t usually direct, but the U.S economy has benefitted from having a peaceful international trading environment  .   

      They aren’t ideal allies, but Pakistan and Turkey have both allowed the U.S. to use bases in their countries.

      You seem to confuse losing control of the Panama Canal with losing access to it.  Economically, the direct benefit of control is much smaller than the overall benefit of shipping access. While it wouldn’t make economic sense for Egypt to cut off our access, a regime that was truly hostile (like the Taliban) wouldn’t really care.

      The government doesn’t officially share your opinion of the UN (yet), and politically it makes sense to pick one solid point to make its’ lack of usefulness painfully undeniable to the rest of the world.

    • Not sure I agree with Phil that international capitalism is an unalloyed good. You seem not to be considering the effect of globalism on the American worker’s real wages (stagnant or deflationary for a generation).

      All things balance out in time. Wages in China will rise as they are in India. Our company has found that our outsourced software development to India is narrowing the cost/benefit gap to the point of hiring Americans again.

      This is a problem of the modern generation that wants instant gratification. sorry charlie, it doesn;t happen that way.

  • Navtechie,
    I’m not certain that all things balance out in time. The primary goal of any US administration should be the economic prosperity of the middle class as well as similar support for good quality blue-collar jobs. Globalization has, in many areas, worked directly against this goal. I hear arguments like yours pretty frequently, but tend to believe that once a job is gone to India, it’s gone for good. Glad your company was able to save a buck exporting jobs, though, as the bottom line is after all the most important thing.
    The government, as far as I can tell, actively hates the middle class and is doing it level best to shed what’s left of us. Also, the days of being able to support a family on a good-quality blue collar job are long gone. This goes back at least in part to our own borders, rather than Israel’s. I suppose we can comfort ourselves that the military will have plenty of job opportunities for people who can’t find other work.

  • Finally , I have yet to hear many good reasons from commenters here as to why we should be supporting Israel. I encourage you to read Michael Scheuer on the topic:
    Thanks for the discussion.

  • Well, nothing persuasive, Shark. Still waiting for something other than 1) they’re our friends (a debatable proposition at best), 2) they’re a democracy and we need to spread democracy (a bipartisan lie), and 3) oil (Israel produces none). Got anything else?
    By the way, are you happy that Obama is now parroting the neocon line, or not?

    • Which part of ‘defending’ democracy do you think is ‘spreading’.
      Spread doesn’t equal defend.
      Isolationism isn’t an option, unless you think North Korea really IS an isolationist paradise.  Isolationism is a fantasy that would only result in our ultimate demise if it were seriously attempted and adhered to.

      And as for the Israelis being friends, yeah, well, they’re certainly better friends in that region than any other country you’re likely to name.   And you should wonder what kind of friends WE are, given this last offer to go back to the 1967 borders.

    • Well, nothing persuasive, Shark

      >>> LOL thanks for proving my point exactly

  • Looker,
    Equating ending armed involvement in the Middle East (which I advocate) isn’t the same thing as isolationism (which I don’t). Look, the world economy is a fact, we must participate in it. That doesn’t necessarily mean we neec to act as guarantor of Israel’s borders.
    The  notion that nations should act on the basis of “friendship” is, to put it mildly, laughable. Nations act out of fear, honor, self-interest, or a combination thereof. This goes back to my main point. What does the US get out of our not-insubstantial investment in Israel? What do we get out of brokering this ludicrous “peace process” (euphemism at its finest, by the way) between two tiny, strategically insignificant places? To put it another way, what’s our interest there?
    I can only conclude that our Israel policy has been, is and will be tied directly to our interventionist tendencies in that region because our leaders believe some combination of the factors offered by other commenters here. Americans apparently love mucking around in other countries’ business without thinking about the consequences. Three wars in the region, started by bipartisan efforts. The real question is, could our Middle East policy be handled any more incompetently?

    • Then Honor – you answered your own question.  We have made commitments in the past and now we honor them.  And self interest – as Shark pointed out – until we go off petroleum, we have a self interest in the Middle East and Israel is a stable BASE, even if they don’t produce drop one of oil – that’s right, in the event we should have to do something military to a collection of, say, muslim brotherhood ruled states.   Sort of like a modern day England to Hitler’s Europe.   But you ignored that one because you don’t think we have a strategic interest in the Middle East I guess, or you think maybe, I don’t know, Yemen would be a better strategic friend, or Lebanon, or Syria, or…gee, just not working is it?
      Why don’t you just get down to the point I think you’re trying to make – you have no interest in making sure the Jewish state survives and you’re beating around the bush trying to provide reasons for it that sound, well, they don’t sound very lofty anyway, but at least they’re reasons beyond you don’t give a rat’s what happens to the Jews if we leave them completely to the mercy of their obviously loving neighbors.   Maybe someone else in the world would care that another holocaust could take place after we abandon them, I don’t know, maybe Sweden, or Ireland, or Lichtenstein,  but who else could bring the necessary force to bear before the nation of Israel was swallowed up completely?
      I realize it would be off topic here, but surely when we next discuss Europe, or Japan, you can ask why we have bases in those places as well and why we get snotty and defensive when North Korea fires missiles across the Japanese mainland, for example.
      I look forward to seeing that.
      And your link site was headed for Isolationism – so, if that’s the guy I should listen to that you direct me to, I have to conclude you agree with the isolation thing as well, if not, find another writer to link to who’s site isn’t interested in pretending we go back to the gold old days of 1870 before the Israel First Fifth Column controlled us all.

    •  Three wars in the region, started by bipartisan efforts

      >>>  I assume you mean Iraq,  A-Stan and Libya, correct?

      Well, in TWO of those wars, we weren’t the ones that started it.  You may want to get those facts straight.   And even in the third, the most dodgy one….I’ll give that one to you for the sake of argument, but even there the terrorist in charge of that country had it coming

  • “Korea fires missiles across the Japanese mainland, for example.”

    Home Islands, not Japanese mainland.  We won’t discuss when Japan had Mainland holdings, but it was in an era when we weren’t concerned enough about other people’s borders to do anything either.

  • Ah, finally the charge of anti-Semitism. Surprised it took this long.

    • If the shoe fits . . . .

    • Nah, for once I was bold enough to say it without dicking around – it had already been implied.
      Several times people explained our strategic interest in the Middle East and more or less gave the understanding Israel is a lynchpin in it.  You seemed to ignore that.  Wanting to bull doze the UN into the Hudson actually puts us behind the controls of the same CAT D9, but I don’t think we’re on the same side, from the way you kept coming at subject.   If you want a different answer, at some point you need to ask a different question.  You could have shifted the argument to any country, any aid, any place as your subtext implies is your problem, but that wasn’t what you did.
      When people keep hammering the same point that’s already been addressed and answered several times, I smell agenda.  Was your plan to keep on it until one of us did what I did so you could pull moral indignation out of your kit and parade it about a little?
      We get spied on by our allies, we spy on them.  If I was Israel I’d be watching us constantly too, because as Baracky demonstrates, our policy changes like the wind direction in Texas.  All things considered I’d be very guarded about trusting ANYONE if I was an Israeli.  But I suppose we can just pretend 70 years ago never happened and the jews should just move on.  And we can pretend that the people around Israel didn’t dance in the streets when the WTC and everyone in it united to become the same pile of rubble, and we can pretend a large number of the inhabitants of the region don’t carry schadenfreude for us around with them in their trouser pockets like I carry my wallet.  Israel was ‘with us’ on that day while many of the people in neighboring countries were celebrating and that ALONE to me is worth something.

  • From the “About” page of the site Pangur linked to:

    “At present, the only war that falls into the necessary and unavoidable category, in my view, is our war against al-Qaeda and the growing Islamist forces it leads and inspires.”
    Guess what, Hamas and Hizbollah are Islamist forces. So while Micael Sheuer rails against support for Israel, he acknowledges that the U.S. should be fighting against Israel’s enemies.

    “Nations act out of fear, honor, self-interest, or a combination thereof.” – Barring hostility from the other nation (which Israel has not shown to the U.S.), it is both honorable and in our self-interest to support a country that shares the same  foe.

  • “Barring hostility from the other nation (which Israel has not shown to the U.S.)”
    The sailors on the USS Liberty might like a word with you on that. Well, at least the ones who survived.
    Thanks for the comments and enlightening discussion.

    • Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!

    • Ah, I wondered when USS Liberty would come up.
      As an aside, did you know the Israeli air force bombed an Israeli armor column the day before the attack on USS Liberty?
      Do you have any more recent incidents of Israeli armed hostility to the US?

    • That may reduce or eliminate the honor factor, but does not trump the fact that it is in the U.S.’s self-interest to support countries with common enemies. In the years since the Israelis killed 34 Americans on the Liberty, Islamists have killed over 3,000 Americans on U.S. soil. Palestinians have killed nearly 700 Americans since 1968.

      Could our policy in the Middle East be any more incompetant? Yes, we could be completely uninvoled and unsupportive to Israel. Even with the US suppoting Israel, its largest enemies still feel free to use proxies to launch terrorist attacks. Several of Israel’s neighbors have repeatedly proven they will try to destroy Israel if they think they might get away with it.  A major war between involving Israel would be counter to our interests no matter who wins. Israel’s destruction would be a victory for our enemies. Without our support, an Israeli victory may only be possible by doing severe damage to some of the world’s largest producers of oil.

  • Not going anywhere, thanks. I’ve commented here in the past and will do so again in the future; I do seem to be upsetting your hugbox, though.

    • You’re fine, Pangur – dissenting voices are always welcome here.

    • It’s a free country and opposing voices are always welcome but if you expect to be received with hugs and kisses, then you need to adjust your meds – and soon!

      I look forward to watching your ass get handed to you in the future.