Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel visited the White House as a guest of President Obama. The President, as is his way, once again managed to frame a major address on a controversial subject in direct rebuke to the guest for whom the subject matter has most cause. President Obama, on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit pointedly undermined 40 years of carefully crafted American diplomacy by declaring the Arab demand for Israel retreat to its pre- 1967 borders as the appropriate basis for Israel’s participation in a peace settlement. Having recently set up Representative Paul Ryan for an uncalled for slap down on a national stage regarding health care, the President attempted this subtly arrogant technique on Netanyahu, but this formidable opponent was not about to allow historical distortion to stand. Mr. Obama, whatever else his intellectual gifts, tends to show an understanding of history that projects as if he learned it on the back of a cereal box. Prime Minister Netanyahu determined to take the opportunity of a post meeting press engagement, to take the President to school and teach a course on Middle East History 101. The accompanying video has rapidly spread across the internet, and perhaps shows once again, why amateurs who dabble in stratospherically difficult historical questions, can look fairly silly:
The questions of the arab israeli conflict have proved resistant to the most dogged and talented of diplomats. The apocalyptic nature of the jewish holocaust of World War II led to the world finally coming to grips with its role in preventing a deserving place for the jewish people in the human story, and the partition of the land of Palestine into Israeli and Arab states was accepted by United Nations Resolution in 1947. Israeli acceptance of the resolution followed, but the Arab powers rejected it. The result was Israel declaring nationhood on May 14, 1948, and the Arab governments of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq attacking the land of Israel the day after in an effort to eradicate it. Israel fought them off, and has been fighting on and off for its existence ever since, under a whithering blizzard of anti-israeli retoric, pre-mediated terrorism, and at times outright war for the next 60 years. The Six Day War of 1967, established Israel as the region’s significant military power in a stunning victory against a three front enemy that led to expansion into Syria, Gaza, Sinai, and the West Bank. Since that time, the faux arab argument has been to state there can be no peace and no acceptance of Israel without the retraction of Israel to its pre-1967 borders. In the interim and several more wars, Israel has withdrawn from Sinai, portions of the West Bank and Gaza. It has declared the need for defensible borders in any collective settlement, but has known in its heart, that the only acceptable border to the region’s arabs is an Israeli border that would exist only in history. The eradication of Israel as an ultimate goal of arab nationalism has always been the cause celebre, and has certainly pre-existed the establishment of the 1967 borders. A telling video from 1958 with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, the profoundly erudite Abba Eban, shows clearly that the issues have not changed much in 50 years, and it would behoove the President to take a little more objective look at history, before he shows himself to be an historical fool in his efforts to surmount history.